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Huckabee Supporters Get Warning Letters

Posted on 1/8/2008 2:19:00 PM

Iowa pastors who have supported Republican Mike Huckabee's campaign for president have been warned that their involvement with could revoke the tax exemption status for their churches.

Huckabee, an ordained Southern Baptist minister has always received backing from evangelicals. Recently, however, certain pastors announced that they received the warning letters without any return address on them. The letters seemed to have been timed to coincide with the weeks leading to the precinct caucuses.

Rev. Brad Sherman, of Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville, said he received two such letters. The first, coming a couple weeks back, warned Sherman with prosecution for backing Huckabee. "I just laughed. No one lands in jail for this," Sherman said. "Somebody is trying to intimidate Christians from getting involved."

However, a second letter arrived stating that the Internal Revenue Service was scrutinizing churches, which were supporting presidential candidates in violation of tax rules. It mentioned Republican Iowa Senator Charles Grassley, as having sought information about spending by high-profile ministries.

Another pastor, Rev. Kevin Hollinger of First Baptist Church in Algona also received three letters. However, Hollinger said he has not preached to congregation about supporting any particular candidate. "I just encourage people to get out and vote and use their biblical principles. I don't tell people who to vote for," he said.

Rev. Rex Deckard of Calvary Apostolic Church in Des Moines, who received nine letters, questioned the motives of the letters. He said that the warning would not change his decision to support Huckabee.

Deckard, of Calvary Apostolic Church in Des Moines, said he wondered about the motive of the letter writers and assumed that the writers would think that pastors are ignorant of the rules regarding church involvement in politics. He, also, said the letters would not change his support for Huckabee.

Jim Harris, Huckabee's spokesman affirmed that the campaign was aware of the letters but could not tell how many pastors have received them or whether they were restricted to Iowa. "We are gathering more information even as we speak," he said, adding, "I would not rule out that we would ask for a criminal investigation, and people who would send such threatening letters to ministers for purely political purposes are cowardly and reek of desperation."


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