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Edmond Pastor, Church Group Under Fire Again for Preaching Politics

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Fairview Baptist Church Pastor Paul Blair has come under fire before for preaching politics from the pulpit. Fairview Baptist Church Pastor Paul Blair has come under fire before for preaching politics from the pulpit.
Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Blair violated federal law when his organization Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ endorsed Representative Sally Kern when the group sent out an email titled "Rally for Sally." Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Blair violated federal law when his organization Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ endorsed Representative Sally Kern when the group sent out an email titled "Rally for Sally."

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A national organization wants the IRS to investigate a religious group in Oklahoma, claiming they violated a federal law that states such groups cannot endorse a political candidate.

The leader of Reclaiming Oklahoma for Christ Pastor Paul Blair said even though the group sent out an e-mail titled "RALLY FOR SALLY" for Republican Sally Kern, it was no way an endorsement and even if it was, Blair said constitutionally he would be well within his rights.

Pastor Paul Blair has quickly become one of the state's most controversial pastors, most notably for giving a sermon in 2008 where Blair said he would be voting for John McCain.

Federal law clearly states tax exempt organizations like Blair's Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond are "absolutely prohibited" from endorsing a candidate.

Americans United for Separation of Church and State said Blair violated federal law again when his organization endorsed Rep. Sally Kern by sending out the "RALLY FOR SALLY" e-mail.

"We haven't done anything, we haven't endorsed, we didn't underwrite. We did nothing, it was just an information piece we sent out," Pastor Blair said.

Even if it was an endorsement, Blair said whether it's through an e-mail or preaching from the pulpit, constitutionally he has every right.

"The First Amendment guarantees my right as a pastor to proclaim truth in here and not have the government tell me what I can and cannot say."

Bruce Prescott, the Executive Director of Mainstream Baptists and a religious talk show host, said the law does not read that way and more important than what the law says, is the impact endorsing candidates could have on religion.

"What worries me the most is it undermines the credibility of the church. My major concern is any time the church has been involved in politics it has been to the detriment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ," Prescott said.

But Pastor Paul Blair said when there are issues effecting Christians, it's his job as a pastor to make them aware of it.

"We are always going to address issues that affect our culture. If there are issues that pertain to morality in our culture, we are going to address those issues," Pastor Blair said.

So far, the IRS has never taken action against Blair's church or organization.

Blair said if the IRS were to take away the tax exempt status, he would continue to preach and preach harder. He maintains that historically in America pastors have played a key role in stirring the hearts of America toward liberty. And it wasn't until the 1954 Johnson amendment to the IRS code that any restrictions were placed on free speech in churches.

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