A Brooklyn church that endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew M. Cuomo should be investigated by the Internal Revenue Service, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Americans United today sent a letter to the IRS about recent activities at Brown Memorial Baptist Church. The New York Times reported that Cuomo spoke at the church during services on Oct. 3 and that he “delivered a pitch for support in his bid for governor, citing his record as attorney general and assailing his opponent ‘for trying to divide us.’”
Furthermore, the paper reported, “The church’s pastor, the Rev. Clinton M. Miller, quickly encouraged congregants to vote for Mr. Cuomo.”
In addition, The New York Observer reported that Cuomo was introduced at the church by Carl McCall, former New York comptroller. McCall attacked Cuomo’s opponent, Carl Paladino, calling him “dangerous” and “unfit to be governor.”
McCall told the congregation, “We can clap and we can pray, but we’ve got to turn out. So, I want you to go from here and spread the word through this community that Andrew Cuomo is our candidate. He will help us to stop this unfit person from becoming governor. And he will become the kind of leader that represents what we need.”
“This is way over the top,” said Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “This church turned its Sunday service into a Cuomo campaign rally. The IRS should investigate and take appropriate steps to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
In its letter to the IRS, Americans United says these actions violate federal law, which prohibits tax-exempt groups from intervening in politics by endorsing or opposing candidates.
“It would appear that this church essentially held a campaign rally for candidate Cuomo,” wrote Lynn in the letter. “He was given access to the congregation during a Sunday service, allowed to promote his candidacy and received an endorsement from the pastor.”
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.