A record number of rogue Christian pastors are endorsing candidates from the pulpit this election cycle, using Sunday sermons to defiantly flout tax rules.
Their message to the IRS: Sue me.
But the tax agency is doing anything but. Although the IRS was sued itself for not enforcing the law and admitted about 100 churches may be breaking the rules, the pastors and their critics alike say the agency is looking the other way. The agency refuses to say if it is acting.
At the same time, the number of pastors endorsing candidates in what they call Pulpit Freedom Sunday jumped from 33 people in 2008 to more than 1,600 this year, according to organizers, Alliance Defending Freedom. And this year, they’ve stepped up their drive, telling pastors to back candidates any Sunday up until the election, not just one Sunday as in past years.
The church leaders are jumping in high-profile races that will help decide the Senate and tight governor races across the country, endorsing candidates from Thom Tillis (R) over Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in North Carolina to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) over Alison Lundergan Grimes (D) in Kentucky.
Rev. Mark Cowart, pastor at Colorado Springs-based Church For All Nations, suggested good Christians should vote Democratic Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper out of office in an Oct. 19 sermon, where he endorsed his GOP rival, Bob Beauprez.
“Beauprez is against more gun control, does not support abortion and he does protect the man-woman marriage — that’s the one I’m voting for. … I’m endorsing biblical principles,” the preacher said in a video of the service, pacing a church stage and chopping his hand through the air for emphasis.
At issue is the churches’ tax break as tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organizations. They don’t pay taxes, and donations to them can be deducted from contributors’ taxable income.
SOURCE: RACHAEL BADE