Krause, who lost her campaign for district attorney in Tarrant County to Sorrells, also accepted funding from a Political Action Committee (PAC). Landon Schott, the pastor of Mercy Culture church, recently defended the church against claims that it is too politically active and could lose its status as a tax-exempt non-profit organization for violating the Johnson Amendment, a federal tax law that prohibits churches and non-profit organizations from directly or indirectly participating in political campaigns. According to Yearby, the executive director of Tarrant Churches Together, churches in his organization can offer services that are more specifically tailored to certain topics and age groups, as well as expand them by offering them online. Wilson, a tax law expert, explained that churches and clergy have been wary of direct political participation for decades, partly because they didn't want to be scrutinized by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
However, Mercy Culture is now intensifying its political activities in Tarrant County with a new candidate training program. Under the law, a church entity cannot support one candidate over another and the church entity cannot give resources to one candidate instead of another, Shackelford told parishioners in October. A Gallup study revealed that the number of church members is lower than it has been in almost a decade. With Easter weekend approaching, many families are preparing for their second weekend of the pandemic.
Yearby's organization brings together churches and religious organizations from across the county to serve the community. The fact that a church is associated with a PAC is not illegal as long as the church's funds are not used to finance its activities, he added. Larger churches that were already broadcasting their services online were better able to make the transition to fully virtual services during the pandemic. An elder from Mercy Culture unsuccessfully ran for mayor last year, and another leader is running to represent parts of Fort Worth, Arlington and Haslet in the Texas legislature.
Tax law experts told the Texas Tribune and ProPublica that at least 18 churches, including Mercy Culture, appear to have violated IRS law by supporting candidates in local and state elections over the past two years. Both Schott and his wife Heather prayed for O'Hare, Sorrells, Tarrant County Republican President Rick Barnes, and others included on the “friends and family list”.
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