by Natasha Lindstrom
In the coming months, the Rev. Tim Throckmorton will step up to his southern Ohio pulpit and declare before hundreds of heedful churchgoers the candidate he wants to win the 2016 presidential election.
He does not care that doing so is technically illegal.
The evangelical Protestant senior pastor at Crossroads Church in Circleville joined more than 1,600 pastors nationwide who delivered politically charged sermons last year in unapologetic defiance of federal rules prohibiting tax-exempt church leaders from endorsing or opposing politicians.
“We basically break the law, and then we mail our sermons to the IRS, since we believe it’s between pastors and God, and the government should have no restrictions on that,” said Throckmorton, 52, a fiery local celebrity who writes weekly newspaper columns, hosts Christian radio shows and puts out books and DVDs on “Godly American heritage.” He said the Internal Revenue Service has never asked him to stop.
He co-founded Awake 88 — a campaign to mobilize voters across Ohio around conservative values via a roaming Winnebago — and travels the country urging pastors to run for office and weigh in on hot-button issues.
“We need to recognize that many of the ills that befall us as a nation are because the church has been silenced,” Throckmorton said.
A diverse spread of religious leaders nationwide is wading unabashedly into the political arena at a time when Americans are shying away from organized religion in droves.
Franklin Graham, heir to his 97-year-old father’s Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, in 2016 will begin a 50-state crusade dubbed the “Decision America Tour,” to get people to “honor God with their vote.” His Pennsylvania visit is not scheduled, according to the Decision America website.
Relatively nascent interfaith alliances such as the Georgia-based Faith & Freedom Coalition have pumped millions of dollars into political events leading up to the primary season, ranging from high-octane presidential campaign forums to low-key discussions among local church leaders — such as a conference on “religious freedom” that drew public officials and about two dozen pastors, including Throckmorton, to Grace Community Church in Bridgeville last month.
“We are worried that we are losing our values and our compass, so my concern is to do my part to educate people on our godly heritage and our history,” said state Rep. Rick Saccone, R-Elizabeth, a featured speaker at the Bridgeville event.
Read more by clicking on the name of the source below.