Gus Booth's church took part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday.
In northern Minnesota, the church where the Rev. Gus Booth has preached politics in the past took another swing on Sunday at goading the Internal Revenue Service into a fight.
Booth, who is on sabbatical, said his associate pastor, Ben Bleess, participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, along with many other pastors across the country who did a little politicking from the pulpit in defiance of a 1954 law banning their interference in elections. It could not be determined how many other Minnesota churches may have participated; several pastors did not return calls on Saturday and Sunday.
"We believe the Constitution holds more weight than the IRS statute," Booth said.
The nonprofit Alliance Defense Fund had rallied evangelical leaders to take part in Pulpit Freedom Sunday, which was first begun with about 33 pastors in September 2008. Booth said he actually held his own the spring before that, and he hopes the movement will keep growing.
Booth, of Warroad Community Church, made headlines in 2008 after the IRS looked into his politicking from the pulpit. They called it a possible violation of federal tax law that could have jeopardized his church's tax-exempt status.
"The government should not tell houses of worship what they can and cannot say," Booth said.
In 2009, the IRS closed the case. Now, Booth hopes to pick another court fight to clarify what he calls a "vague" situation that has left pastors uncertain about what they can and can't say from the pulpit.
For Booth, the issue is clear: "Tell the state to get out from behind my pulpit."