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(RNS) A church-state watchdog group is urging the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a top Southern Baptist pastor and radio personality, saying that he violated tax laws by endorsing presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State says California pastor and radio host Wiley Drake, the second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention, broke the law by endorsing Huckabee for president. Huckabee, who is seeking the Republican nomination, is a former Southern Baptist pastor.
On Aug. 11, Drake released a letter saying “I am going to personally endorse Mike Huckabee. I ask all of my Southern Baptist brothers and sisters to consider getting behind Mike and helping him all you can.
…I believe God has chosen Mike for such an hour.”
Drake’s letter was written on stationary from his First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, Calif., and referenced his title as second vice president of the 16 million-member Southern Baptist Convention, according to documents provided by Americans United.
Drake again endorsed Huckabee Aug. 13 on his radio show, “The Wiley Drake Show.”
“Federal tax law is clear,” said the Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United.
“Churches and other nonprofits may not endorse candidates if they want to keep their tax exemption. I am confident that the vast majority of Americans do not want to see their houses of worship politicized.”
Drake responded on Tuesday. “In light of the recent attack from the enemies of God I ask the children of God to go into action with Imprecatory Prayer, especially against Americans United for Separation of Church and State.”

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