El Rey Jesus, an evangelical Florida mega-church due to host a re-election event for President Donald Trump this week, may be violating tax rules barring religious groups from participating in political campaigns, a non-profit said on Tuesday.
Trump will launch an “Evangelicals for Trump” coalition of supporters at the church, also known as King Jesus International Ministry, on Friday, the Trump re-election campaign and the church announced this week. El Rey Jesus attracts thousands of people to services delivered in English and Spanish every week, church leaders claim.
On Sunday, El Rey Jesus’ founder Guillermo Maldonado urged his congregation to attend the Trump event at its church in Miami saying: “If you want to come, do it for your pastor. That’s a way of supporting me,” the Miami Herald reported on Dec. 29.
Internal Revenue Service rules here exempt charities, including churches, from federal taxes provided they do “not participate in any campaign activity for or against political candidates.”
Maldonado’s Dec. 29 sermon, as reported by media, appears to have violated the IRS rules, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, a non-partisan group that advocates for the separation of church and state, said on Tuesday.
“In urging congregants to come to a political rally, and in hosting the political rally, King Jesus Ministry appears to have inappropriately used its religious organization” to intervene in a political campaign, Rebecca Markert, the foundation’s legal director, said in a letter to Mary Epps, the IRS’ acting director of exempt organizations.