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Two O.C. pastors challenge IRS rules from the pulpit

September 29, 2008 |  9:44 am

Who_would_jesus_vote_for Two religious leaders from Orange County were among the dozens of pastors across the United States who preached politics from the pulpit on Sunday, hoping to become the basis of an IRS test case on the ban against politicking from the pulpit.

Though they didn't explicitly name candidates' names — except for the Rev. Wiley S. Drake, who asked his Buena Park parishioners to vote for him — the pastors instructed listeners to judge the candidates by the Bible and Christian scripture, and to vote accordingly. 

Our own Bob Pool and My-Thuan Tran attended the services:

Pastor Stephen B. Orman urged those attending his Warner Avenue Baptist Church service in Huntington Beach to use the Bible as a voters' guide and evaluate candidates and issues on the basis of Christian scripture.

The Rev. Wiley S. Drake suggested that those at his First Southern Baptist Church in Buena Park vote for him -- and for his presidential running mate on the American Independent Party ticket, Alan Keyes.

Drake asked his congregation to support the challenge to the federal ban on political campaigning by nonprofit groups.

"I am angry because the government and the IRS and some Christians have taken away the rights of pastors," Drake said to about 45 people at his service. "I have a right to endorse anybody I doggone well please. And if they don't like that, too bad."

While pastors aren't prohibited from political speech-making, doing so can put their tax-exempt status in jeopardy. More details (and a poll) in the full story here.

— Veronique de Turenne

Photo: The Rev. Wiley S. Drake prays with  a parishioner. Credit: Annie Wells / Los Angeles Times