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Gordon Howie, SD candidate for U.S. Senate calls on preachers to break law

South Dakota's Gordon Howie
South Dakota's Gordon Howie

On July 17, 2014 the Sioux Falls Argus Leader published a short article about Gordon Howie, running for Senator Tim Johnson’s U.S. Senate seat against Mike Rounds (R), Rick Weiland (D) and Larry Pressler (I). Howie is running as an Independent but refers to himself as a true conservative and his supporters have called Mike Rounds a RINO (Republican In Name Only).

In a Rasmussen poll dated June 9, 2014, Rounds was ranked first with 44%, Weiland was second with 29%, Pressler was third with 18%. Rasmussen reports seven (7%) are undecided and two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, which could be Mr. Howie.

Gordon Howie, in a one-minute campaign video apparently filmed in a church claims that America’s religious values and God himself are under attack. He does not elaborate on this claim but it sounds like the usual “War on Christians” promoted by many Christian leaders and Fox News. Without any evidence, it’s hard to understand how the 77% of Americans who identify as Christians are losing this fantasy war.

More important, Mr. Howie, who says he not afraid to say he’s a Christian and saved by Jesus Christ, calls on Christian preachers to break the IRS tax law and endorse candidates, presumably Gordon Howie, from the pulpit.

In 1954, the Johnson Amendment, named for then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson, changed the IRS tax law affecting organizations with 501(C) tax exemptions. Organizations with 501(C) tax exemptions are prohibited from conducting political campaign activities and could lose their tax-exempt status if the IRS determines they have violate this rule.

While many preachers dislike this tax law, and have openly violated it, they appear a bit petty, in that they want their church to be able to collect unlimited amounts of money without paying any taxes and, at the same time, be allowed to use their church pulpit as a place where they attempt to coerce the congregants to vote for particular candidates. Those in the pews who went to church to learn more about Jesus end up hearing a campaign speech.

It is one thing for preachers to challenge the IRS rule by breaking the tax law, as they are, in effect, betting their tax-exempt status. If they lose, their church loses since donations will become taxable.

It is something else, for Mr. Howie to encourage preachers to break the IRS tax law. I must wonder at what kind of political leadership is being demonstrated when Mr. Howie tells others to break an IRS tax law in order for him to get elected and formulate other laws. How much respect does Gordon Howie have for laws in general? Will he find other laws inconvenient and, as a U.S. Senator, call on people to break those laws?

You can read the article from the Argus Leader here.


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