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Hastings minister endorses political candidates during sermon on Sunday

HASTINGS, Minn. - He spoke his mind and the Rev. Brad Brandon of Berean Bible Church is ready to do it again.

At the church's regular Sunday morning worship service, Brandon offered his political endorsements, mostly Republican and conservative, for the upcoming Nov. 2 elections.

It is not unheard of for people to offer their endorsements - newspapers and other media are currently in the midst of doing it. However, IRS regulations have prevented church leaders from issuing endorsements for decades.

Brandon, who is also the afternoon drive-time talk show host on AM 980 KKMS announced weeks ago he would officially announce his political endorsements Oct. 17, and he's listed them on his church's website.

Brandon also handed out lists of the endorsements to his congregation and planned to announce them on his radio show this week, all of which the IRS regulations state he can't do.

"As long at the Johnson Amendment is there, my constitutional-guaranteed freedom of speech is being infringed upon, and so are the rights of every other pastor," said Brandon. "I am exercising my free speech."

He said both all members of the clergy should be concerned as this amendment hinders every group from their protection of freedom of speech.

Brandon said he hopes his stance is noticed, and a lawsuit reaches the U.S. Supreme Court, where he believes the amendment would be overturned.

"There is no way a court in their right mind can take a look at the Johnson Amendment and say that it is constitutional," said Brandon.

Jane Lightbourn is a reporter at the Hastings (Minn.) Star-Gazette, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.