Hundreds of churches across Virginia are set to air a political ad starring Vice President Kamala Harris — a move that has raised eyebrows regarding the legality of bringing political campaigns into houses of worship. Vice President Kamala Harris attends a virtual meeting with mayors from the African American Mayors Association, Wednesday, Feb. 10, 2021, from the South Court Auditorium on the White House complex. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin) Jacquelyn Martin/AP
‘Souls to the polls’: Virginia churches to air pro-McAuliffe ads featuring Kamala Harris
Asher Notheis October 17, 03:28 PM October 17, 03:28 PM
Hundreds of churches across Virginia are set to air a political ad starring Vice President Kamala Harris — a move that has raised eyebrows regarding the legality of bringing political campaigns into houses of worship.
Between Oct. 17 and Nov. 2, a video featuring Harris will play during the morning services of over 300 black churches across Virginia. In the video, Harris encourages viewers to vote for gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe in the upcoming election, according to CNN.
“I believe that my friend Terry McAuliffe is the leader Virginia needs at this moment,” Harris says in the video. “Terry McAuliffe has a long track record of getting things done for the people of Virginia.”
The video is only one part of McAuliffe’s religiously minded “Souls to the Polls” media blitz. The “Souls to the Polls” events will be hosted weekly and are intended to encourage residents to vote on Sundays, with the first event held on Oct. 17, according to 10 Wavy.
The announcement generated controversy on social media, with many questioning if playing the video at church violates laws against political partisanship by religious institutions.
Twitter users critical of McAuliffe pointed to the prohibitions the IRS has set for churches and asked if McAuliffe and Harris were risking the income tax exemption that any or all of the churches enjoyed. Since 1954, Congress has prohibited all 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches, from participating in political campaigns in order to maintain their exemption from income tax.
The Nov. 2 election will pit McAuliffe against GOP candidate Glenn Youngkin, who has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump.
A recent Trafalgar Group survey of 1,095 likely election voters showed Youngkin with 48.4% of the vote to McAuliffe’s 47.5%, putting Youngkin in the lead for the first time.
The IRS did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner’s request for comment.
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