LUBBOCK, Texas — A Lubbock church was accused of electioneering by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on Tuesday. The FFRF sent a complaint letter to the Internal Revenue Service.
The letter raised concerns of “potential illegal political campaigning” by Southcrest Baptist Church. According to the complaint, a pastor told the congregation that members “needed to pay specific attention to the local school board elections.” The complaint stated the church also displayed brochures for some candidates while also telling members there were certain other candidates the congregation should “worry about.”
Southcrest Baptist Church released the following statement to EverythingLubbock.com:
“Southcrest Baptist Church is in 100% compliance with the federal requirements for 501(c)(3) organizations. A church is not prohibited from advocating for its beliefs in the public square under those requirements. No violations were committed pertaining to these guidelines.”
In a video of an April 24 sermon that was posted to the church’s Facebook page, Pastor David Wilson told the congregation, “If you are in the Lubbock Independent School District, inside the Lubbock Independent School District, the school board elections begin tomorrow. Early voting does.”
He continued, “If you’d like some information on some conservative people that have values probably like you, there are some brochures like this outside.”
The pastor also said, “There are some people that are running for school board that you will not agree with. I can assure you. So, you need to be alert, and please go vote.”
Those remarks were heard about an hour and 21 minutes into the video.
The complaint accused Southcrest Baptist Church of using its status as a religious organization and 501(c)(3) entity to “intervene in political campaigning.” The FFRF asked the IRS to investigate the church. It also asked the IRS to “ensure” donations would no longer be tax deductible.