Oct 8, 2012 10:14 PM by Andy Koen

Local sermon may have included endorsement

It's a sentence that could land a local pastor in trouble with the IRS. On Sunday, Pastor Mark Cowart of Church for All Nations told his congregation, "I didn't like the fact that Romney was a Mormon but I'll tell you what, he's got my vote."

The statement came at the conclusion of a sermon comparing Barack Obama and Mitt Romney on their stance on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and health care.

Cowart only said Romney had his vote during the 9:00 a.m. service and not at 11:00 a.m. when our cameras were present. As a result, News 5 reported that Cowart hadn't specifically endorsed either candidate. The church provided us with a copy of the 9:00 a.m. service to have a record of his statements.

Pastor Cowart joined around 1,500 other churches across the US Sunday in defying the tax code's prohibition on discussing candidates as part of a movement call Pulpit Freedom Sunday. The organizers of the demonstration believe the tax code is unconstitutional because it violates the First Amendment's Freedom of Religion Clause.

A tax policy guidebook provided to churches by the IRS states that a church can lose it's 501 (c) 3 tax exempt status and be levied an excise tax for participating in political campaign activity.

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