Nearly every Sunday since announcing his bid for mayor, [Rev. James T.] Meeks has taken to the pulpit to preach to the faithful at the 10,000-seat House of Hope about their religious duty to be civic-minded and support candidates who are guided by Christian values.
"If homosexuals can endorse a candidate, why can't a church?" Meeks asked in his sermon last Sunday.
-- From "As mayoral candidate who is also a minister, Meeks walks a fine line" by John Chase, Chicago Tribune reporter 12/11/10
"It's time for us to stand up. It's time for us to get up. It's time for us to wake up!" [Meeks] exhorted.
While it sounded like many of the political speeches the state senator and candidate for Chicago mayor makes on the campaign trail, this was a sermon Meeks delivered last Sunday as pastor of Salem Baptist Church. The fiery preacher has built a career on social and political activism, but his entry into the high-profile mayor's race brings a new focus on federal law restricting political campaign activity by churches.
Meeks says he's long been mindful of the rules laid out by the Internal Revenue Service, but it's clear he chafes at restrictions that prevent churches and other charitable groups from endorsing and contributing to political campaigns.
Pastors across the country have in recent years challenged tax law as a restriction on their free speech rights. . . .
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