IRS Asked If Churches Can Pray for Bush Re-Election

By Susan Jones | July 7, 2008 | 8:30 PM EDT

( - Is it legal for churches to pray for the re-election of President George W. Bush during their services?

The Christian Defense Coalition says it is seeking "clarification" from the Internal Revenue Service, before coalition members launch a two-week prayer tour in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

"As Christians, we are praying that God grant President Bush four more years because of his support for the sanctity of human life, his strong commitment to the protection of traditional marriage and his stance on religious freedom and liberty in the public square," said the Rev. Patrick J. Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition.

"It is clear that the public policies of the president are more in line with historic Christianity then those of Senator Kerry. It is our hope that the IRS will not crush religious freedom by attempting to censor and control how churches feel compelled to pray," Mahoney said in a press release.

The American Center for Law and Justice has written to the IRS on behalf of the Christian Defense Coalition, explaining that Mahoney plans to "offer prayer during the evening services in the churches he visits that God grants President Bush four more years as president and that Sen. Kerry does not become president."

Americans United for Separation of Church and States, a group that monitors politics from the pulpit, says churches, like all tax-exempt organizations, "absolutely prohibited from supporting or opposing candidates for elected public office."

Americans United says churches that support or oppose a candidate may face an IRS audit, fines and loss of tax-exempt status.

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