Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego, Calif., told his congregation on Sunday that he plans to vote for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, but The San Diego Union-Tribune reported that “he left it to his congregation to make up their own minds.” The political discussion came in observance of Pulpit Freedom Sunday, an event designed to challenge the IRS amendment to the Tax Code that political activism by non-profit organizations like churches could trigger the loss of their tax-exempt status.
“Some came to hear an endorsement,” Garlow told his congregation. “My endorsement will be Jesus. … I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney, but I’m not telling you to.” Garlow continued saying the Bible and the Spirit of God should lead a voter’s choice of president.
According to The Christian Post, Garlow told CNN that it’s not “that we’re wanting to lose our tax exemption.” He said he wants to “reclaim” their First Amendment rights. On The Colbert Report, Garlow went so far as to say, “Our line is very simple—no government intrusion into the life of the church at all.”
Pulpit Freedom Sunday began in 2008 with only 33 pastors. Recent poll results from LifeWay Research found that the vast majority of pastors (87 percent) believe they should not endorse political candidates from the pulpit.