Mid-South pastors respond to "Pulpit Freedom Sunday"

SENATH, MO - (WMC-TV) – Pastors across America broke the law at some point during Sunday's church services.  In Senath Missouri, Pastor Chuck Clark was one of them.

"A 1954 law was enacted to add where churches had to lose certain parts of their freedom of speech to keep their tax exempt status," Senath First Assembly of God pastor Chuck Clark said.

Pastor Clark is talking about the Johnson Amendment, a tax code that prohibits 501 organizations from endorsing or contributing to political campaigns. Clark used the day designated as "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" to peacefully challenge the nearly 60-year-old law.

"Today has kind of been a reaffirmation to reclaim that privilege back," Pastor Clark said.

The Senath First Assembly of God pastor believes it's his responsibility to let his congregation know how the candidates' positions line up with the tenants of their faith.

"If I don't give the facts then I have to answer to a much higher power than anybody here," he said.

And if that means sharing who he will or won't support, so be it.

"If people want to go into the booth and vote their own way, like I said in this morning's message, I'm still going to love them, I'm still going to be their pastor," said Pastor Clark.

Over in Paragould at First United Methodist Church, Pastor Angie Gage disagrees.

"We can't pick and choose Scripture to say this candidate is right and this candidate is wrong," Pastor Gage said.

Both pastors agree that part of their calling is to err on the side of right when it comes to moral issues, but how to do so is where they disagree.

"As far as me separating my vote from my faith, it can't be done," said Pastor Clark.

"There does need to be a separation between the Church and politics," Pastor Gage said.

"Pulpit Freedom Sunday" began in 2008. The Internal Revenue Service has yet to revoke the tax exempt status of any of the participating churches.

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