Pro-Life Pastor Ready to Challenge IRS on Endorsements by Backing McCain

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 26, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Pastor Ready to Challenge IRS on Endorsements by Backing McCain

by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 26
, 2008

Warroad, MN ( — With the urging of a pro-life law firm wanting to topple the regulations, a pro-life pastor in Minnesota appears ready to make a presidential endorsement from the pulpit in an effort to challenge IRS regulations prohibiting that. The Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, is recruiting several dozen pastors in the effort.

The law firm hopes to have the endorsement occur this Sunday despite a federal ban on political endorsements by tax-exempt houses of worship.

Rev. Gus Booth, pastor of Warroad Community Church, says he plans to be one of the pastors involved in the effort and he indicated he’s already getting calls from interested media.

Booth already made news for himself earlier this year when he spoke out against both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, saying their pro-abortion views run contrary with the Biblical teachings of a respect for human life.

Booth plans to endorse McCain, who is says is pro-life on abortion and who he says he met at the Republican convention in St. Paul in September.

"I was able to talk to John McCain, just shortly," Booth told the Grand Forks Herald. "I just said I was a pastor in a church in northern Minnesota and want you to know we pray for you consistently. And he said, ‘Thank you very much.’"

The effort is intended to elicit an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service that ADF would then challenge in federal court, with the ultimate goal of persuading the Supreme Court to overthrow the 54-year-old ban called the Johnson Amendment that restricts tax-exempt non-profits, such as churches, from engaging in political campaigns.

ADF attorney Erik Stanley previously told, "For so long, there has been this cloud of intimidation over the church. It is the job of the pastors of America to debate the proper role of church in society. It’s not for the government to mandate the role of church in society."

"We’re not encouraging any congregation to violate the law. What we’re encouraging them to do is exercise their constitutional right in the face of an unconstitutional law," he added.

Stanley said three dozen church leaders from more than 20 states have agreed to deliver a political sermon that will endorse a political candidate despite the risk of losing their churches’ tax-exempt status.

A pro-abortion group of Christian and Jewish clergy, led by United Church of Christ pastors Eric Williams and Robert Molsberry, petitioned the IRS to stop the protest before it starts, calling the political endorsement effort an attack on the law and the separation of church and state.

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