Thursday, April 27, 2006


Allan Blume, pastor of Watauga County's megachurch, Mt. Vernon Baptist, is on state senate candidate David Blust's website, endorsing Mr. Blust. He makes that endorsement as pastor of that church.

IRS guidelines for churches reads in part (emphasis added):

"Individual Activity by Organization Leaders
The political campaign activity prohibition is not intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. However, for their organizations to remain tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3), leaders cannot make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official functions.

"To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of organization functions and publications, organization leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization."

Rev. Blume chose not to follow these guidelines. He signed himself as "senior pastor" of a huge church, one that has been quite open in the past about its Republican partisanship, and he called on those reading the letter "to follow him" in voting for David Blust.

He was also careless with his facts. He says that Sen. John Garwood (not actually mentioned by name, but still), "cast the deciding vote on [the] lottery." Not true. Garwood didn't vote, which (okay, okay) allowed the lottery to pass. But still.

As much as I also oppose the lottery, because it pretty much exclusively targets low-income citizens, Rev. Blume goes waaay further and alleges that it is "illegal." How so, pastor? No court I know of has agreed with that characterization. The N.C. lottery is unfortunate, it's wrong-headed, it's opportunistic ... but not (so far, anyway) "illegal."

Though your endorsement of Mr. Blust may well be.

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