Advocacy Guidelines

The Catholic Bishops of Texas recognize the need to distribute guidelines for parishes and institutions concerning advocacy and electioneering in election years. The Church speaks often to issues that are both moral and political, but directs its attention to the issues, not to political parties or candidates.

I. Parishes and other institutions may, and in some cases should, engage in issue-oriented activities and advocacy. As a rule, limitations on the extent of such advocacy would not be a problem for parishes or other institutions, since advocacy would not be a substantial part of their endeavors.

The following are examples of such acceptable activity:

  • Educational efforts about issues and in support of specific legislation.

  • Encouragement of letter writing campaigns and other contacts with state or federal legislators designed to educate them and to develop support for legislation.

  • Distribution of flyers containing a statement about an issue or issues before the Congress or the Texas Legislature, and containing the names and addresses of senators and representatives.

  • Preaching, with emphasis on deepening the understanding of the sanctity of human life and distribution of pertinent information concerning particular issues, especially those affecting human life.

II. Nonpartisan voter registration and get-out-the-vote campaigns are proper and a recommended activity for parishes and church organizations.

III. Materials prepared for use in educating citizens, including surveys or polls, must emphasize educational  objectives not support or opposition to specific candidates. All material should be approved by USCCB, TCC or the local ordinary.

IV. Evaluations of candidates or political parties should be avoided. Examples of objectionable evaluations would be:

  • Those that encourage readers or listeners (e.g., homily) to vote for or against a particular candidate for a party.

  • Those which label a candidate of party as “pro-school aid” or “anti-life”; such a practice removes objectivity by not allowing readers to evaluate a candidate’s position themselves.

  • Those which use plus or minus signs to evaluate the candidate or party.

  • Rating candidates or parties on a scale of “one to ten” for example, or otherwise saying “X is good.” “Y is better”.

  • Those which use marked sample ballots.

V. No (arch)diocesan or parish entity or organization should endorse, oppose or campaign for or against any political party or candidate for public office; nor should any funds of any such entity or organization be contributed to any political candidate, party, campaign or political action committee.

VI. Pastors or other religious leaders are urged to avoid endorsements or other political activity, contributions, or electioneering.  Although not prohibited, it may be difficult to separate their personal activity from their role as a representative of the Church.

VII. Signs or leaflets supporting a particular candidate should not be located/distributed on Church property.

 

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