December 8, 2011
Website Seeks Input for Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations
WINCHESTER, Va. – The Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations, created to help resolve financial accountability issues with an eye toward self-regulation, has launched an online forum to seek public comment on regulatory and tax policy issues facing clergy, churches and other nonprofit groups.
The commission, formed by ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), has added a public input page (https://religiouspolicycommission.org/PublicInput.aspx) to its website in order to seek input on issues related to political speech; "love offerings" paid to religious leaders; the clergy parsonage exclusion; and compensation of church leaders.
“We hope that public feedback will give the commission further clarity and insight as we address these important issues,” said Michael Batts, commission chairman. “It is vital that we have as much constructive input as possible, since the issues we are addressing could affect clergy, religious organizations and other nonprofits all across America.”
The commission also plans to hold town hall-style meetings in at least two cities in 2012 to pursue live public input.
Among the questions on which the commission seeks feedback are:
What role should federal tax law play in establishing the compensation and benefits of nonprofit organization leaders?
To what extent should churches be accountable to the Internal Revenue Service with respect to the details of their activities?
Should the clergy parsonage exclusion be limited to the primary residence? Should the amount of the exclusion be limited?
Should the current prohibition of political campaign intervention by 501(c)(3) organizations be relaxed or modified in some way to permit limited speech in support of or opposition to political candidates?
The commission (www.religiouspolicycommission.org) was formed following a report issued in January by the staff of U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) focusing on the financial practices of six high-profile, media-based Christian ministries. After releasing the staff’s findings of his three-year inquiry, Grassley asked ECFA to spearhead an independent national effort to review and provide input on the accountability and policy issues emanating from the staff report.
Panelists representing religious groups from a variety of faiths, the broader nonprofit sector and the legal community were named in September to three advisory groups that are providing input on the issues.
ECFA, founded in 1979, provides accreditation to leading Christian nonprofit organizations that faithfully demonstrate compliance with the ECFA standards pertaining to financial accountability, fundraising and board governance. To learn about ECFA, including information about accreditation and a listing of ECFA-accredited members, visit www.ecfa.org or call 1-800-323-9473.
To schedule an interview with Michael Batts, commission chairman, or Dan Busby, ECFA president, contact Ty Mays at 770-256-8710 or email@example.com.