Back in October, Americans United for Separation of Church and State requested the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether First Baptist Church of Dallas broke the law when it posted media clips of Pastor Robert Jeffress endorsing Texas governor and (now) failed presidential candidate Rick Perry.
Now, another Southern Baptist pastor from Texas has endorsed a presidential candidate via the church’s website.
Rev. Voddie Baucham of Houston-area Grace Family Baptist Church recently posted a lengthy, detailed endorsement of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul on the church’s website. [Side Note: Baucham's rationale for supporting Paul is indeed interesting; check it out]
Baucham is one of the most well-known African-Americans in the Southern Baptist Convention and perhaps the most prominent African-American Baptist Calvinist.
Ron Paul 2012 websites have also touted the endorsement of Baucham. Talking Points Memo covered Baucham’s endorsement as well. See “Ron Paul Touts Endorsement From Pastor Who Railed Against ‘Sodomites’” [Anyone who has followed Baucham knows he has a penchant for 'railing' against a host of things]
TPM does not address the church-state issue at play here. Additionally, there’s no mention of the most fascinating angle to Baucham’s endorsement: that a prominent African-American pastor has endorsed Paul despite the fact that Paul continues to be hounded by charges of racism.
Returning to the issue of Baucham using church resources to endorse candidate Paul:
In the case of Robert Jeffress, a clip of his televised introduction of Rick Perry at the Values Voter Summit was posted on the FBC Dallas website. A second clip of Jeffress endorsing Perry during an interview with Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball was also posted on the church’s website.
Baucham, however, has offered a more direct endorsement of a candidate. In our digital age, is there any real difference between a pastor making a direct endorsement of a candidate via the church’s website or via the church’s pulpit?
This seems to be a rather blatant violation of the law. I suspect the IRS will again turn a blind eye to this matter though.