Rev. Brad Brandon wants his GOP endorsements to be tax exempt
Despite what the Rev. Brad Brandon says, his First Amendment rights are not in jeopardy.
Without anyone stifling his speech, he's used his Berean Bible Baptist Church pulpit in Hastings to endorse a slate of conservative politicians. And you'll be pleased to know that God, speaking through the good pastor, will be glorified if you vote for Tom Emmer and Michele Bachmann.
So far so good. But Brandon has conflated church work with political work. And while the IRS allows tax exemptions for the former, it does not for the latter.
That means that Brandon's church needs to pay its taxes. But Brandon, along with other pastors in the so-called Pulpit Initiative, equates paying his taxes with the trampling of his free speech rights.
He has deliberately flouted the law to try and draw an IRS challenge. The initiative's goal is to take that potential challenge, or another like it, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court and overturn the tax law.
Americans United for the Separation of Church and State has filed a complaint against Berean Bible Baptist Church with the IRS.
"Pastor Brandon has pulled his tax-exempt church into partisan politics in blatant violation of federal law," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. "This a clear-cut case, and the IRS should act."
Brandon, meanwhile, is free to keep on telling us that he knows best who God would vote for.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss City Pages' biggest stories.