Some Mississippi religious leaders are expressing mixed emotions about the president's executive order to allow religious organizations to become more politically active.
Bishop Ronnie Crudup Sr. heads the Fellowship of International Churches. The pastor of New Horizon Church doesn't endorse candidates. He has mixed feelings about President Donald Trump's executive order on Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty. It allows religious organizations to be more politically active and endorse candidates without losing their tax-exempt status.
"I think that this area for me is a minefield that if not dealt with properly can become a terrible distraction," said Crudup.
Brandon Baptist Church Senior Pastor Clarence Cooper encourages his congregation to vote. But he has concerns about mixing politics and religion.
"I mixed feelings on that to be honest with you. I think they oughta have a voice but I'm just totally against getting the political arena in the church arena," said Cooper.
Dr. Jerry Young, a pastor and President of the National Baptist Convention, says he doesn't endorse candidates. Young thinks churches should be able to do so, without losing their tax-exempt status. He's ambivalent about the order.
"I just don't see it, how it changes anything in particular and I think sometime a lot of these executive orders are symbolic rather than substantive," said Young.
Mississippi College Political Science Professor Glenn Antizzo says the executive order is the president's fulfillment of a promise to conservative groups whose IRS tax exempt status was denied during the Obama Administration.
"It will just remove the fear of some of these organizations of some sort of retribution from the IRS," said Antizzo.
Trump's executive order also allows private employers to use religion to deny reproductive healthcare to employees.