Pastor tests IRS by endorsing candidate – Hopes to undo tax code rule

June 16, 2010 05:27

A South Dakota minister says he wants to do for religious freedom what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. did for civil rights.


The Rev. H. Wayne Williams, pastor of Liberty Baptist Tabernacle in Rapid City, last month endorsed GOP state Sen. Gordon Howie in the South Dakota governor’s race, in defiance of the Internal Revenue Service and a federal court ruling and in hopes of producing a landmark constitutional test case.

At issue is an IRS regulation called the Johnson Amendment, enacted in 1954, that says that 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the section of the tax code under which most churches file, cannot endorse a specific political candidate and retain its nonprofit classification.

“Why is it that I cannot walk with my Master, my Lord, in speaking on government issues?” asked Mr. Williams, citing the example of other religious leaders such as King, John the Baptist and biblical prophets, all of whom involved themselves in political issues.


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