IRS Postpones Case Against Pro-Life Pastor Who Endorsed McCain Over Obama

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 29, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

IRS Postpones Case Against Pro-Life Pastor Who Endorsed McCain Over Obama

by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 29
, 2009

Minneapolis, MN ( — The Internal Revenue Service has postponed a case against a pro-life pastor in Minnesota who endorsed John McCain over pro-abortion presidential candidate Barack Obama. Pastor Gus Booth of Warroad Community Church participated in a special event during the election.

A group of pastors issued endorsements for McCain in late September as a part of an effort to overturn a decades-long rule prohibiting endorsements from the pulpit.

Aided by the pro-life law firm Alliance Defense Fund, they say the rules violate their free speech rights.

More than 33 pastors across the United States were involved in the endorsement effort, including Booth.

Booth told his congregation, “We need to vote for the most righteous of candidates. And it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to figure that out. The most righteous is John McCain.”

He added that abortion is “evil, wicked and immoral. Obama condones what the Bible condemns,” he said.

Booth later wrote letters to both the IRS and Americans United for Church and State, a pro-abortion group that has targeted pastors and churches and filed a complaint against Warroad Community Church.

Instead of going after the church, IRS officials say that a procedural move forced the IRS to close the case, but it had the option to reopen the case in the future.

According to the Minnesota Independent, the IRS wrote Booth on July 7 saying that, due to “a pending issue regarding the procedure used to initiate the case,” they have closed the file. However, the letter said that the agency “may commence a future inquiry… after it resolves that procedural issue.”

The Minnesota Family Council told the Independent that the IRS is bullying churches which should have the right to endorse a candidate and not lose their tax-exempt status.

“Pastors should be free to speak or not to speak in opposition to or support of political candidates according to the dictates of their consciences,” MFC president Tom Prichard said. "They shouldn’t have their free speech rights, guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution, undermined by the IRS. Yet that appears to be what the IRS is trying to do in this instance."

Other pastors who took part in the effort included Pastor Luke Emrich of New Life Church in West Bend, Wisconsin; Rev. Ron Johnson Jr. at Stones Church in Crown Point, Indiana; and Rev. Jody Hice of Bethlehem First Baptist Church outside of Atlanta.

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