Puyallup pastor could get in hot water with IRS after telling churchgoers who to vote for
Nov 7, 2023, 7:01 PM
(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)
During a recent Sunday sermon, a Puyallup pastor told his congregants who to vote for in the November 7 elections.
“These are your candidates, these are who win. These are the people, along with our brother Dennis, who change the tide, win the state, and get our city back,” said Pastor Roger Archer of Motion Church during an October 29 sermon.
It’s raised concerns with others in the local church community.
“It hurts my heart to see a pastor do that, you know. He doesn’t really know any of the other candidates, he certainly didn’t invite them,” said Jennifer Strickling.
Strickling attends another church in the area and was shocked to see Archer endorsing politicians.
“Promoting just one side with limited information to a megachurch. It’s dirty, he’s playing dirty you know,” she said.
Tax attorney John Sterbick with Bear Tax Relief told us he believes Archer is in violation of The Johnson Amendment.
“It’s blatant. It’s as blatant as it can be,” Sterbick said. “A nonprofit organization shall not be endorsing and certainly not financially supporting political candidates.”
According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
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.”
During the sermon, Archer went on to explain there’s nothing wrong with the endorsements.
“I figure fair is fair, you want to come into the church, we are coming into the government. By the way, separation of church and state is not in the constitution,” Archer said. “It was never to keep the church out of the state, but to keep the state out of the church.”
KIRO 7′s Samantha Lomibao went to Motion Church in person and contacted them online, but there was no one to speak on this controversial matter.
Sterbick told us this situation could warrant an investigation from the IRS.
“You don’t want the IRS coming in and looking over your books. But, you are more or less inviting them to come on in,” he explained. “In fact, they’re not just endorsing, they’re saying you should vote for them. That’s not allowed, period.”
The IRS says churches can speak about important issues of public policy. To remain tax-exempt, religious leaders can’t make partisan comments at official church functions.