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Md. churches violate law with political donations

John Fritze of The (Baltimore) Sun reviewed candidate finance reports to show that more than 100 churches in Maryland — including dozens in Baltimore — have made campaign contributions to political candidates in recent years, an act that is prohibited by federal tax law and blurs the line between politics and the pulpit. Some have given repeatedly, such as the Southern Baptist Church in East Baltimore, which made a dozen campaign donations between 2000 and 2004 that add up to more than $3,000. Statewide, at least 115 churches have given to about 40 candidates since 2000, and while the donations are generally small and sporadic, they flout Internal Revenue Service regulations that prohibit churches from advocating for specific political candidates. "Churches that give to candidates can face revocation of their tax-exempt status or a 10 percent excise tax on the contributions, according to the IRS." A variety of candidates from both parties — including many in top leadership positions — have taken money from churches in recent years.

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