In starting a full circle pro-life ministry at your church, you may have questions or concerns. Leading others to Christ and helping them grow in a greater love for Him is the main focus of church, and the message of life is a powerful tool to that end.
I don’t want to offend people at our church
The reality is, many women have had abortions and many men were a part of it, intentionally or not. Abortion is a controversial topic, but it is one that has to be discussed. If you believe abortion is murder, if you believe women are killing their children, if you believe men are coercing their wives, girlfriends and friends to kill their children, then you have an obligation to speak about it.
Pastors speak not only on what the Bible says to us as children of God, but also as a society. Abortion is an issue that we cannot compromise on as Christians.
The reality is, people are going to be offended, you can’t do anything about that. What you can do is help them understand why the church is defending all life, including the pre-born.
I can guarantee you that during the times of slavery, pastors were concerned about offending people in their congregations. I pray that they spoke for the slaves regardless of the situation. Back then, human beings were treated as property, treated inhumanely and disposed of in-justly. What happens to the pre-born is very similar.
Pastors speak not only on what the Bible says to us as children of God, but also as a society. Pastors have a responsibility and a duty to speak for God on all issues, not just those issues that make the congregation feel good. Omission of discussing important topics like slavery and abortion would be a sin. Also, since 70% of people who have abortions call themselves Christians, pastors have an opportunity to educate and comfort women and men who are struggling with unwanted pregnancies. Pro-life efforts are as legitimate as any ministry, including sharing the gospel or feeding the hungry.
People come to church to find healing and forgiveness, what better way than knowing a church can offer resources to find that healing from abortion? There are men and women that are thinking about abortion right now in your church. They need the hope that only Jesus can provide.
People have had or have been involved in abortions in my congregation
This is a reality you’re going to have to deal with. You will want to make a statement acknowledging the post-abortive members of your congregation when you introduce your pro-life stance to them, and you will want to offer counseling and support for men and women who have been involved in abortions.
If you say nothing, more abortions will happen and more lives will be destroyed
You have to speak on the life issues frequently, perhaps every month or quarter-year. If you don’t, not only will members of your congregation not know how you and the church feels about this topic, they are likely to consider having an abortion if they have an unwanted pregnancy. Seventy percent of women who have had abortions call themselves Christians.
Pastor, silence is not an answer. If it were, we wouldn’t need the Bible. God gave us the Bible so that we may understand how he feels about things, including life. That’s why in his wisdom he gave us the Commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”
I don’t want to offend those who have been affected by abortion
It is possible a person or couple may confront you about discussing abortion with the congregation. They may feel justified either by supporting the issue or by having had an abortion themselves. Obviously, you don’t want to attack a person or couple who have been involved with an abortion. You do however want to defend your views and the views of your church. We can be compassionate and empathetic while speaking for the pre-born.
People come to church to find healing and forgiveness. Your church can offer resources to help them find healing from abortion. There are men and women who are thinking about abortion right now in your church. They need the hope and wisdom that only Jesus can provide. If you are silent, that will only keep them in the dark.
I don’t want to get involved in politics
Speaking on the life issues or having a life ministry does not require you to do fundraising for politicians or even campaign for them. Too many people avoid speaking for the pre-born because they are afraid it is only a political topic.
Abortion is a moral topic which affects millions of people directly. It is not just a topic of conversation. We as Christians must be “salt and light” to mothers-to-be and remind them that they can find “abundant life” in Jesus and in choosing life for their child.
What about my tax exempt status?
The IRS states the following specific do’s and don’ts during an election year:
– “Political campaign activity – absolutely prohibited”
– “Lobbying – “cannot be a substantial activity of the organization”
– “General advocacy – “permitted as an educational activity”
This IRS lobbying document shows how the IRS is vague on political issues and lobbying. For instance, the document states:
“In general, no organization may qualify for section 501(c)(3) status if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation (commonly known as lobbying). A 501(c)(3) organization may engage in some lobbying, but too much lobbying activity risks loss of tax-exempt status.”
It’s hard to believe that the Internal Revenue Service uses words such as “substantial”, “some” and too much, followed by “loss of tax-exempt status.” This leaves them the opportunity to either deny 501(c)(3) applications or revoke them at their discretion. This statement does confirm though that a 501(c)(3) is legally allowed to influence legislation, and, or, lobby the United States government.
In addition, the document adds:
“Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy without the activity being considered as lobbying. For example, organizations may conduct educational meetings, prepare and distribute educational materials, or otherwise consider public policy issues in an educational manner without jeopardizing their tax-exempt status.
This is one area we are asking you to focus your attention. You can educate your congregation on abortion issues all day long, and the IRS cannot touch your 501(c)(3) status.
Extensive information on this topic is available in this IRS Document. The following is a question and answer from that document:
How does advocacy of an issue relate to the concept of participation or intervention in a political campaign?
This question was presented in the following form at the meeting of the Exempt Organizations Committee of the ABA Tax Action, held on February 4, 1992:
“Many charitable organizations conduct mass media advocacy on issues such as abortion rights, the environment, crime, defense spending, health care and tax reform, during non-election periods. If certain candidates become identified with positions on these issues during a campaign, must the organization alter its advocacy in order to avoid the IRC 501(c)(3) electioneering prohibition? Can the charity use the opportunity of the campaign to gain greater attention from candidates and the public, to its issues? Suppose a pro-life political group, during a campaign, heavily attacks pro-choice positions in TV ads, implying criticism of pro-choice incumbents. Can a pro-choice charity pay for TV ads to respond solely on the issues, using free airtime provided by the TV station?”
No situation better illustrates the principle that all the facts and circumstances must be considered then the problem of when issue advocacy becomes participation or intervention in a political campaign. On the one hand, the Service is not going to tell IRC 501(c)(3) organizations that they cannot talk about issues of morality or of social or economic problems at particular times of the year, simply because there is a campaign occurring. As the 1995 ABA Comments state:
“Nothing in section 501(c)(3) prohibits a charity from purchasing media time for a discussion of issues in furtherance of its exempt purposes, whether or not such discussion coincides with the election. A charity’s issue-based message should be no more limited during an election campaign than it is during any other time of the year. The fact that candidates have aligned themselves on one or another side of and issue should not impact a charity’s ability to reach the public with a pure issue message, particularly in view of the fact that the candidates position is an external factor beyond the charity’s control. The independent actions or positions of candidates should not be imputed to exempt organizations.”
In contrast to the “pure issue message” scenario set forth in the 1995 ABA Comments, an IRC 501(c)(3) organization may avail itself of the opportunity to intervene in a political campaign in a rather surreptitious manner. The concern is that an IRC 501(c)(3) organization may support or oppose a particular candidate in a political campaign without specifically naming the candidate by using code words to substitute for the candidate’s name in its messages, such as “conservative,” “liberal,” “pro-life,” “pro-choice,” “anti-choice,” “Republican,” “Democrat,” etc., coupled with a discussion of the candidacy or the election When this occurs, it is quite evident what is happening — an intervention is taking place. See TAM 91-17-001 (Sept. 5, 1990) for an example of coded language constituting political campaign intervention.
Basically, a finding of campaign intervention in an issue advertisement requires more than just a positive or negative correspondence between an organization’s position and a candidate’s position. What is required is that there must be some reasonably overt indication in the communication to the reader, viewer, or listener that the organization supports or opposes a particular candidate (or slate of candidates) in an election; rather than being a message restricted to an issue. As is stated in TAM 1999-07-021 (May 20, 1998), in order to violate the political campaign prohibition, an advocacy communication “should contain some relatively clear directive that enables the recipient to know the organization’s position on a specific candidate or slate of candidates.” This statement was made in the context of a determination that an organization did not participate or intervene in a political campaign when, a few days before Congressional elections, it distributed an “I’m Fed Up With Congress” communication that also encouraged its recipients to vote and to assure that others voted. With respect to this situation, TAM 1999-07-021 concluded as follows”
“The “I’m Fed Up With Congress” communication does not clearly indicate whether [the organization] supports or opposes a specific candidate or slate of candidates. While it expresses a general dissatisfaction with Congress, it does not rise to the level expressing a position on any individual candidate or candidates. This communication could be viewed as focusing attention on the perceived abuses of the Congress or as a way of sending a message of disgust to members of Congress. I have a The fact that no statement was made on an individual’s qualifications, or lack thereof, for public office supports this view. Moreover, not all members of Congress were candidates for office in the elections of [that year].
This communication does not clearly support or oppose any single candidate or identifiable group of candidates (such as by party or a geographic location). Additionally, there is no indication in the file that the letter was sent only to specific states or congressional districts in which congressional elections targeted by the organization were occurring. Our determination with respect to this communication might be different if evidence in the file indicated that the communication was aimed at a specific candidate, specific candidates, or a specific ticket of candidates. However, the file lacks such evidence and there is no other evidence in the file that any other facts and circumstances existed indicating the letter was an intervention in a political campaign. Consequently, there is insufficient evidence to conclude that this communication constituted campaign intervention.”
Therefore, the fundamental test that the Service uses to decide whether an IRC 501(c)(3) organization has engaged in political campaign intervention while advocating an issue is whether support for or opposition to a candidate is mentioned or indicated by a particular label used as a stand-in for a candidate. Accordingly, the appropriate focus is on whether the organization, in fact, is commenting on a candidate rather than speaking about an issue.
As we can see, the IRS provides extensive information on what can be discussed as a 501(c)(3). As a matter of fact, you can also see that the IRS is extremely vague on what cannot be said. There is no doubt though, our goals as a life ministry are to:
– speak for the pre-born
– educate people on the life issues
– help men and women who are struggling with unwanted pregnancies
– help all members of the congregation understand what abortion really is
There are plenty of things you can do as a pastor, so don’t let the IRS scare you into thinking you can’t talk about abortion.
Will my church grow and be blessed in this step of faith?
“Like every mission, they need us, the church. With our time, our money, and our prayers, we can be a part of seeing “lives saved physically and transformed, spiritually … in the mission field created by abortion.” John Piper
Taking a step in righteousness is pleasing to God. We can’t imagine God not wanting us as Christians to take a stand on the murder of the innocent. People may be offended and leave the church, others will be energized that their pastor cares so much about the saving of the unborn.
Do you “just want to teach the gospel?”
The gospel is all about abundant life in Jesus. John 10:10 says, “I came that they might have life and have it abundantly.” Those who have had or are thinking of getting an abortion need to hear the message of life whether they sit in your pew or are entering an abortion facility.
We give money to Crisis Pregnancy Centers
Great! ! ! Crisis Pregnancy Centers need our financial support. But just like we support missionaries who share the gospel, we ourselves are not exempt from sharing the gospel. We must give our time and our money to end abortion.
Some of our church members volunteer in pro life efforts
Wonderful! Pastors and churches must get involved together and stand up for the pre-born. 4,000 children die each day at abortion mills in the U.S. and it will take more than just a “village” to stop such a honorific tragedy.
Regardless of what you or your church already do, please consider joining Cherish Life Ministries, and let’s work together to end abortion!