A megachurch pastor in San Diego became one of up to 2,000 clergy around the country to defy IRS rules and announce their support of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Sunday.
“Some came to here to hear an endorsement,” Skyline Church Pastor Jim Garlow told his congregation, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune. “My endorsement will be Jesus. I’ll tell you whom I’m going to vote for, but I don’t think that makes it an endorsement. I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney, but I’m not telling you to.”
The conservative Christian group Alliance Defending Freedom organized “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” to oppose the Johnson amendment in Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which prohibits charities and religious institutions from endorsing or opposing specific candidates. Participating pastors hoped to goad the government into prosecuting them by sending videos of their sermons to the IRS, with the ultimate goal of challenging the law in court.
“It is clear that the president of the United States doesn’t stand on these issues that I’ve been talking about, only Mitt Romney,” Garlow told a church group on Saturday. “All I can say is this is a biblical standard of how to vote, and who are we going to vote for these next four years?”
“Now you see, this is where I just crossed the line,” he added. “I am trying to get the pulpit to be free.”
Americans United for Separation of Church and State San Diego chapter President Debbie Allen, who attended Garlow’s sermon on Sunday, said that churches that endorse candidates should not enjoy a tax-exempt status.
“I’d say you give up any tax incentives — that’s an easy thing to do,” she told the Union-Tribune.
Watch this video, uploaded to YouTube on Oct. 7, 2012.