St. Cloud pastor running for mayor uses sermon to campaign

A St. Cloud pastor is getting some attention after mixing politics with prayer.

ST. CLOUD, Fla. — A St. Cloud pastor is getting some attention after mixing politics with prayer.

After a sermon Sunday, Nathan Blackwell reminded his congregation that he’s running for mayor, and some think that’s a step too far.

St. Cloud City Council Seat 2 candidate Hughette Crumpler said she doesn’t think it’s a good idea for any minister to be running.

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9 Investigates found out the church may come under scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service.

The tax code is the only law that would stop a pastor from preaching politics in the pulpit.

Twenty-seven minutes into Blackwell’s service on Sunday, he started talking about parties among politicians.

“I’m not going to tell you all the ones that I’ve been to. Since I’ve been running for office, I’ve been invited to quite a few of those,” he said.

Crumpler calls Blackwell’s campaign a disgrace.

“It goes against the value system, certainly,” Crumpler said. “A preacher should be above and beyond that."

Channel 9’s Field Sutton tried to contact Blackwell at his home, cellphone and email for comment, but never heard back.

So Sutton asked WFTV political analyst Rick Foglesong whether people have a reason to be up in arms.

“He is clearly violating the tax code, and that poses a real threat to the church, which can lose its tax exemption,” Foglesong said.

Foglesong said the law’s been like this since 1954 and it’s not confined to campaigning.

“It would be difficult for a pastor to actually serve in office because the tax code says that you cannot engage in politicking on behalf of the church,” said Foglesong.

Foglesong said Blackwell could help the problem by offering his opponent, Jeff Rhinehart, equal time in his pulpit.