Americans United for Separation of Church and State has filed a complaint with the IRS over a preacher in Kentucky who told his congregation to vote President Barack Obama out of office this November.
“Religious leaders have every right to address public issues, but they cannot turn their tax-exempt ministries into political action committees,” Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, said. “If houses of worship want to be partisan and dive into electoral politics, they ought to give up their tax exemptions.”
Pastor Ronnie Spriggs of Hager Hill Freewill Baptist Church said during a Sunday service that Obama should not be re-elected because of his recent endorsement of same sex marriage.
“Did y’all hear that? He said that he believes that gays ought to have the right to marry in the United States. That’s the president of the United States who said that. Amen. I don’t know about you folks, but I’m going on record and I don’t care who knows it. I want the guy out,” Spriggs said.
“This country can’t afford that kind of ideology in that office,” he added. “Amen. That’s too high office. I can disagree with anyone and we can go on, but when a man sits in the highest seat in this country and my freedom and your freedom is in his hands, I can’t afford for that man to have that kind of ideology and be that far against Christ.”
“We need to really be prayerful, and we need to get active,” Spriggs later said. “If you’ve ever opened your mouth, you better open it now. Between now and November, God’s people ought to thunder this country. We ought to let this country know that we will not be silent on these issues.”
Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits charities and churches from intervening in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to any candidate. The IRS has been reluctant to revoke churches’ tax-exempt status for violating the 52-year-old IRS rule, but the agency has issued written warnings to dozens of churches.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State said it had reported more than 100 violations of the rule since 1996.
Eric W. Dolan
Eric W. Dolan has served as an editor for Raw Story since August 2010,
and is based out of Sacramento, California. He grew up in the suburbs
of Chicago and received a Bachelor of Science from Bradley University.
Eric is also the publisher and editor of PsyPost. You can follow him on
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.