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IRFA, with our allies, engages in advocacy as a vital aspect of our work to safeguard and advance the religious freedom that faith-based organizations need so that they can offer their distinctive good works to society. 

Our work is upstream of the courts and litigation. We work to shape laws, regulations, and government programs to be fair and accessible to faith-based organizations. And we help to educate lawyers, lawmakers, government officials, and the media concerning the importance of institutional religious freedom and the scope and value of the faith sector. 

We advocate to government and the public for the rules and conditions that enable faith-based organizations to flourish. As needed, with allies, we lobby legislators to advance good policies and modify or defeat harmful legislation.

Our advocacy and lobbying initiatives are distinctive

  •     We focus on religious institutions, not individuals–on faith-based service organizations and houses of worship in their service to the community.
  •     We concentrate at the federal level, monitoring, educating, and advocating to Congress, the White House, and federal agencies.
  •     We are not partisan. We work, as far as possible, with all legislators and every administration.
  •     We are multi-faith in orientation and action: religious freedom is for everyone.
  •     We are pro-active, not waiting for bad laws and regulations to be enacted but working to educate congressional staff and administration officials about institutional religious freedom.
  •     In our advocacy and lobbying we include representatives of faith-based organizations and not only religious freedom lawyers. We are determined that when legislators and government officials design laws and regulations they will have on their minds the vital work of faith-based organizations and their distinctive identities, operations, and needs.

What FBOs Can Do

As nonprofit organizations, including as IRS-designated 501(c)(3) organizations, faith-based organizations are free to advocate to the public and the government. FBOs are free also to lobby:  to work to persuade legislators to enact, reject, or modify legislation. Lobbying by nonprofits is specifically protected in the law, within limits. (However, taking sides for or against candidates is not permitted.)

Through social media, events, advertising, and speaking with reporters, elected officials, and civil servants, FBOs can help the public and lawmakers understand the freedoms, the legal protections, they need so that they can continue to do their work of ministry and service. 

And FBOs can, and should, speak up in praise when good legislation and regulations are proposed and to ask for changes when detrimental legislation and regulations are advanced. Who better than FBOs know what the consequences of changes in the law will be? 

Not every FBO has the spare capacity and a mission that will support significant efforts in advocacy and lobbying, but every FBO should consider whether, at least some of the time, it should speak up.  

Consider a “tithe to public affairs”:

  •     Designate someone on the staff or board to monitor important institutional religious freedom developments and to recommend lobbying or advocacy.
  •     Sign up for the IRFA eNews. 
  •     Apply to participate in meetings of the Coalition to Preserve Religious Freedom.

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