Republican gubernatorial candidate Gordon Howie on Friday urged South Dakota churches and their pastors Friday to defy federal law by endorsing candidates.
By law, churches that endorse or oppose candidates or parties risk losing their tax-exempt status.
Howie, a state senator from Rapid City, said he believes the 50-year-old tax law is an unconstitutional violation of freedom of speech.
"Pastors have a constitutional right to speak freely. When you look at our history, you see the people who led the charge for independence, the people who led the charge in civil rights, those were spiritual leaders, those were pastors," Howie said.
Howie faces four other candidates in the June 8 primary to determine the Republican Party's candidate for governor in the fall election.