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Evangelical Christians have been preaching politics in Ohio ahead of Tuesday’s gubernatorial primaries and face accusations of using the church as a vehicle for political advocacy.

The accusations come from another group of religious leaders who have filed multiple complaints to the IRS against two so-called "mega-churches" in Ohio.

One of those churches is led by Pastor Russell Johnson, who has become one of the most important figures in Ohio politics today. Johnson runs the Ohio Restoration Project, an organization that mobilizes so-called "patriot pastors" to deliver one-sided messages about social policy, secular laws and even political candidates.

The goal of the organization is to elect candidates who agree with conservative Christians on issues such as abortion and gay marriage.

"When it came to find a leader, we found one, Ken Blackwell, who said yes, marriage is defined by the Bible as one man and one woman, and I will stand with you," Johnson said at an Ohio rally in February.

The group is specifically accused of endorsing conservative gubernatorial candidate J. Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio’s Secretary of State, for the Republican nomination. Running against him is the moderate Republican candidate Jim Petro, Ohio’s Attorney General. Under IRS rules, churches and other tax-exempt charities are not permitted to endorse a political party or candidate for public office.

"They are crossing the line and they’ve become entangled in government," Eric Williams, one of the pastors that lodged the complaint, told NOW. Williams is a pastor at the North Congregational United Church of Christ, a church that supports positions like equal protection under the law for gays and lesbians.

With the election just around the corner, is the Buckeye State once again bracing for a political storm of biblical proportions? Next time on NOW.

Hendrik Hertzberg and "Rummyache"

Also this week, David Brancaccio talks to Hendrik Hertzberg, Senior Editor of The New Yorker, about the recent staff shakeup at the White House and the latest on the fate of the Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. "Rummyache", Hertzberg’s commentary on Rumsfeld in The New Yorker, is available for viewing here.

In Depth

Video Interview with candidate Jim Petro

Perspectives: Religion and Politics

Churches, Politics, and the IRS

Rolitics and Peligion

The Defense Secretary and "Rummyache"

In Depth
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In Depth
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Read the Transcript

In Depth
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In God’s Country

Hendrik Hertzberg

Video Interview with Jim Petro

In Depth
In God’s Country
Producer: Bryan Myers
Editor: Kathi Black
Show Editor: Larry Goldfine
Assistant Editor: David Kreger and Pierre Stefanos

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