Pastors Challenge Law, Endorse Candidates From Pulpit

"Churches have constitutional rights and special status by virtue of being churches. This isn't about political speech, it is about religious speech. The Bible and scripture applies to every aspect of life, including who we elect."

Both the Democrats and Republicans recognize how important "faith voters" will be in this year's presidential election, and each is working to court religious groups.

Given the sensitive legal and political ramifications of the issue, officials from both parties would speak only on background.

"We don't advise churches because they're tax exempt organizations. We do advise our volunteers and coalitions that anything they do related to their religion must be done in their volunteer capacity — not through the church," said a Republican National Committee official.

The Democrats this year are courting religious voters like never before and will open this summer's convention, for the first time, with a prayer meeting.

"There is a distinction between the pastor and the pulpit," said a Democratic Party official. "We've made a significant effort to reach out to faith voters this year, but we're always making sure people know the law and the guidelines."

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