« Alabama: text of the DOJ suit against Alabama | Main | "Tricks of virtual redistricting" »

Montana: Baptist Church fined for electioneering

BP News reports: In a decision that conservatives say chills religious expression, a Montana state official March 7 ruled that a Southern Baptist church violated state election laws in 2004 by endorsing a constitutional marriage amendment petition drive without notifying the state.

In a 10-page ruling, Gordon Higgins, Montana's commissioner of political practices, said that Canyon Ferry Road Baptist Church was required by state law to fill out paperwork and report itself as an "incidental political committee," which it did not do. The church placed petitions for the amendment, known as CI-96, in the foyer, and its pastor, Berthold G. Stumberg III, encouraged support for it from the pulpit. The church is located in East Helena.

The amendment passed by a margin of 66-34 percent.

"Use of the church’s facilities to obtain signatures on CI-96 petitions, along with Pastor Stumberg’s encouragement of persons to sign the CI-96 petitions during regularly scheduled church services, obviously had value to the campaign in support of CI-96," Higgins wrote. -- State rules against Mont. church for backing marriage amend.

Thanks to Religion Clause blog for the link.

Post a comment

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)