Presidential election can pose tough decision for some people of faith

Pastor Jason Browning at Friendship Baptist Church says this has been the most unusual presidential election he’s seen in his 21 years of ministry.

As the head of his church, Browning tells people to vote their faith. In four weeks, they’ll head to the polls and, after recent events, it’s not an easy choice for some.

“At the end of the day, we have to decide which one best represents what we stand for,” he said.

A Public Religion Research Institute survey shows 69 percent of white evangelicals support Donald Trump and 19 percent support Hillary Clinton. That survey was taken before 2005 audio of Trump making crude comments about women was released last week. Browning condemns the words Trump said, but he isn’t sure the other side is any better.

Browning says the pulpit is for the word of God, and he doesn’t use it to preach politics. But when church is over, he gets asked a lot of questions, such as: “How do I support either candidate?” Browning says he tries to “encourage them to be informed, be educated, and seek what the Lord would have them do.”

The pastor says part of the reason his church is left with the two presidential nominees is a lack of turnout. Browning says he knows who he’s voting for, but that doesn’t come out on Sunday morning. His No. 1 concern in this election is religious freedom.

There are tax laws against preaching politics. The Internal Revenue Service can revoke tax exempt status if a religious leader makes partisan comments in official publications or at official church functions. For comments outside the church, leaders are encouraged to clearly indicate their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.

Last week, Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin called the tax code ineffective and said preachers should embrace political speech at the pulpit.

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