Burlington, Iowa church posts campaign signs, plays ad during se - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Burlington, Iowa church posts campaign signs, plays ad during service

Heritage Baptist Church in Burlington, Iowa/Facebook photo Heritage Baptist Church in Burlington, Iowa/Facebook photo
Campaign signs supporting Republican candidates hang in the window of  Heritage Baptist Church/Facebook photo Campaign signs supporting Republican candidates hang in the window of Heritage Baptist Church/Facebook photo

BURLINGTON, Iowa – The words were spoken not by a politician but by a pastor: 

"On November 6th, America will make a choice not just in who the new president will be but in the path we're going to take as a nation."

So concludes a sermon entitled "Prove All Things - Comparison of the Republican & Democrat Platforms" delivered October 14 by Pastor Brad Cranston of Heritage Baptist Church in Burlington. 

"There is a stark contrast between the two parties," Cranston told his congregation.

"The Republican platform espouses personal liberty, individual responsibility, free markets, private enterprise, low taxes, a strong military and limited government."

By contrast, Cranston said the Democrat platform "espouses dependency of the individual on government, it espouses secondly a socialist society where the common good supersedes personal interest."  The Democrat platform according to Cranston also "espouses highly-regulated markets, a smaller military and an unlimited federal government."

Pastor Cranston paused during his sermon to play for his parishioners a TV campaign ad by Hungarian-born billionaire Thomas Peterffy.  Such ads have run in several swing states and on CNN telling the story of Peterffy's escape from socialist Hungary and his concern that America is also becoming socialist.

"I grew up in a socialist country… and that's what I see happening here," Peterffy is heard to say in the ad.  Peterffy goes on to say "that's why I'm voting Republican."

During his sermon Cranston also told church members that the 2012 Republican platform supports limiting marriage to between a man and a woman.  Cranston told church members that this is "the only kind of marriage there is" although same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa.

Cranston told church members that Democrats support an "anti-life" agenda in their 2012 platform's support of legalized abortion. 

"I must preach politics from behind this pulpit because the future of the nation depends on it," Cranston told his congregation three weeks ago.  "You see, what we do as a nation, how we behave, is inextricably linked to how God deals with us."

1954 federal tax law prohibits churches from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Those who violate the law can lose their tax exempt status, which allows tax deductions on money given to a church and allows a church to avoid paying property taxes. 

Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code states that an organization to be tax-exempt "may not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates."  The IRS also states such organizations cannot "participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office."

Churches for years have been mixing politics with worship in various forms but many have often explained such activity in the past as supporting ideals instead of candidates.

Heritage Baptist Church has posted in its front window several campaign signs, including two that support Republican Iowa State Senate candidate Brad Bourn and Republican congressional candidate John Archer.

Heritage joins a string of other churches nationwide challenging the nearly 60-year-old law restricting churches in making political endorsements.

Pastor Cranston cited to his congregation a series of scripture in justifying his preaching of politics.  For example, Cranston cited First Thessalonians 5:21:  "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good."

"Listen, you can't believe everything you hear," Cranston explained.  "We need to test them with the truth of God's word."  Therefore, "We not only have the Biblical authority to analyze politics from behind this pulpit, because politics and civics fall into the category of ‘all things,' we have a Biblical obligation to deal with them."

Cranston believes that there is ultimately no line between piety and politics.  "We have an obligation by the grace of God to send men and women down to Washington, DC who have a fear of God and understand the Biblical principles of God's word and will apply them to their own lives as well as to this nation."


Follow David Nelson on Facebook at http://on.fb.me/PdyVE3 and on Twitter http://bit.ly/MUP5yV

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