A legal-aid group initiated a campaign dubbed “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” to argue the validity of the tax codes that prevent clergy from supporting candidates from the pulpit. The Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) recruited pastors to preach sermons Sunday that would activate an Internal Revenue Service inquiry and a legal battle that could overturn the law. “ADF is not trying to get politics into the pulpit,” said Erik Stanley, senior legal counsel for ADF. “Churches can decide for themselves that they either do or don’t want their pastors to speak about electoral candidates. The point of the Pulpit Initiative is very simple: The IRS should not be the one making the decision by threatening to revoke a church’s tax-exempt status. We need to get the government out of the pulpit.” Many ministers criticized the protest, as did serveral former leaders of the tax agency, who urged the IRS to investigate ADF lawyers for violating ther professional duties. Although the ADF said it tried to enlist both conservative and liberal pastors, most of the churches were socially conservative evangelical or charistmatic congregations. And several of the 33 preachers who participated pulled no punches. The Rev. Fran Pultro of Calvary Chapel in Philadelphia, said: “As Christians it’s clear we should vote for John McCain. He is the only candidate I belive a Christian can vote for.” The Rev. Richard Bacon, pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church Reformed of Mesquite, Texas, said in closing the service: “We must vote against the candidacy of Sen. Barack Obama. Amen.” After being briefed on the content of several sermons, Donald Tobin, associate law-school dean at Ohio State Univeserity and a former Justice Department attorney, said they all broke the law. “It’s going to be very difficult for the IRS not to take action,” he said. Stanley said individual pastors would be responsible for sending transcriptions of their sermons to the IRS. The ADF has said it would represent pastors who are investigated.