IRS rule appears to be flouted in pro-McAuliffe video starring Kamala Harris played at Va. churches

The IRS rule prohibits churches from "engaging in any political campaign activity"

Published: October 20, 2021 11:03am

Updated: October 20, 2021 2:13pm

Hundreds of churches across the state of Virginia have been airing a political ad featuring Vice President Kamala Harris encouraging churchgoers to vote for Terry McAuliffe in the Virginia gubernatorial race, for which early voting has begun.

The video is raising questions about the legality of the ad being shown in houses of worship. The vice president calls upon Virginians to "raise your voice through your vote," specifically, a vote for Democrat McAuliffe, whom Harris refers to as "the leader Virginia needs at this moment."

McAuliffe is currently in a dead heat with Republican candidate, political newcomer Glenn Youngkin. 

Harris' video is drawing criticism due to myriad questions about its legality as it pertains to a rule established by the IRS that prevent 501(c)(3) organizations – which include churches and charities – from involving themselves in political campaigns. The law was passed by Congress in 1954.

"Currently, the law prohibits political campaign activity by charities and churches by defining a 501(c)(3) organization as one 'which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office,'" reads the IRS website. 

The ad is set to air in 300 churches across the state until Virginia election day on November 2. 

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