I go to church every Sunday. I’m sure my pastor would sometimes love to use the pulpit to promote particular candidates for political office. But to do so would jeopardize the church’s federal tax-exempt status, and would be an inappropriate use of his position of authority. So he (along with many other boundary-conscious religious leaders) is careful to refrain from crossing that line.
The same is not true for Pastor Glen Berteau at The House Modesto. On Sunday, April 22, he invited Stanislaus County Sheriff candidate Jeff Dirkse to speak at all three of The House’s services, providing Dirkse a captive audience of hundreds of voters. Berteau spoke glowingly about Dirkse before and after allowing Dirkse to talk about how he felt called by God to run for sheriff. Berteau told his congregation “we need Christian people in areas of influence in our city,” and asked them to thank Dirkse for hearing from God and running for sheriff. You can bet Dirkse picked up some votes.
Berteau knows this was a flagrant violation of the laws that exempt his church from paying taxes. He’s done it before. It’s an abuse of power that should be stopped.
Lisa Battista, Modesto