ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A Minnesota evangelical pastor once criticized for endorsing Michele Bachmann’s congressional campaign from his church pulpit now plans to work for her presidential campaign.
Mac Hammond is pastor of Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park. He told his congregation Sunday that he and his wife would campaign with Bachmann, and that he may chair a national faith council for her campaign.
“She is a sister in the Lord that is as committed to his word as any of you in here are,” Hammond told the congregation, according to a recording posted on his church’s website. A spokesman for Living Word said Monday that Hammond was traveling and not available for an interview.
In 2006, Bachmann spoke at Living Word as a candidate for the congressional seat she now holds. She detailed her own religious beliefs, saying God had called her to running for Congress and calling herself “a fool for Christ.” Hammond endorsed her candidacy that day, prompting the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington to file a complaint with the IRS that he had violated the church’s tax-exempt status.
Hammond later apologized, and the IRS did not investigate. But the controversy triggered a broader IRS investigation into Living Word’s finances, which a court ultimately shut down when it ruled the church did not have to turn over financial documents.
Hammond is a preacher of what’s known as the prosperity gospel, which teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches. He told his congregation Sunday that he’s been Bachmann’s “personal pastor” for some time. “Everybody needs a pastor,” he said.
A spokesman for Bachmann’s campaign did not immediately return a call seeking comment.
Hammond noted that work for Bachmann would “be done on a personal basis. As a church, we can’t formally endorse a particular candidate,” he said — a fact that he went on to bemoan.
“For centuries, politicking was done in the local church,” Hammond said. “And pastors and ministers had the responsibility of illuminating which candidates were most closely aligned with God’s word.”
Hammond said in addition to traveling with Bachmann for campaign appearances, he might head up an entity for the Bachmann campaign that he referred to a her “National Faith and Family Council.”
Hammond said he already made at least one campaign appearance for Bachmann. He introduced her on Friday in Nashville, at a gathering of more than 200 pastors and faith leaders.
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