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Church Texting Laws During Covid-19

  • Written By: Michael Lepinay
  • Posted: Mar 16th 2020

We’ll keep this post brief, as you’re likely inundated with other things right now. Getting to the point: you can legally text your church members concerning Coronavirus.

This past weekend, we passed our average monthly message volume – within the first 15 days of March. This means Clearstream is being used at nearly 200% its normal volume. Thankfully our backend has handled it without a sweat so far. Much of that volume is due to churches using Clearstream to communicate COVID-19-related information such as schedule changes, service cancellations, and emergency info.

Though we haven’t had anyone reaching out asking about the legality of texting their entire church regarding this world-wide pandemic, I suspect it will be helpful for those of you concerned or curious about legally texting your church.

Context

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) enacted the TCPA (Telephone Consumer Protection Act) in 1991 to help protect us consumers against unwanted calls and faxes. No joke, faxes. Over the years, the TCPA has been updated to include text messaging.

The TCPA includes a few exemptions for non-profits. This is primarily because non-profits are (by and large) not soliciting advertisements, rather using texting as a way to communicate information. The primary exemption being instead of having to obtain written or electronic proof of opt-in consent from a subscriber (i.e. – church member), you can have verbal permission as well. If you’d like more info on texting laws, guidelines, and best practices for your church, here’s a whiteboard video series to bookmark for later watching.

Emergency Exemption – Coronavirus

For any emergencies, the FCC has made it very clear that text messages related to said emergency are exempt from the TCPA regulations. Being that the Coronavirus has been declared a pandemic, text messages you send to your church members are exempt from the FCC TCPA laws. If you’d like more clarification on this specific exemption from a legal firm, read here.

If you have any questions at all, feel free to email directly at michael@clearstream.io, or reach out to our support team. We’re here to help.

– Michael, co-founder

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