Group urges IRS to strip megachurch pastor of tax-exempt status over political endorsement

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A Southern California megachurch pastor has once again waded into politics at the pulpit. This time, Pastor Jack Hibbs of Calvary Chapel Chino Hills threw his full-throated support behind Republican U.S. Senate candidate Steve Garvey.

The move prompted a national nonprofit, the Freedom From Religion Foundation, to write a letter to the Internal Revenue Service, urging the IRS to strip Hibbs’ church of its tax-exempt status.

During his sermon last Sunday, Hibbs told church-goers and viewers at home that they should vote for Garvey, whom he called “one of the greatest baseball players of all time” and “the only guy on the ballot.”

“I want to publicly, right now today, encourage all of you to vote for Steve Garvey. You’ve got to vote for Steve Garvey. I just remembered, it’s against the law for me to say that in the pulpit,” Hibbs said, eliciting laughter and cheers from his audience.

The group Right Wing Watch shared video of the incident on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Hibbs did not immediately respond to The Bee’s request for comment.

The conservative pastor previously drew criticism when he endorsed Republican gubernatorial candidate Larry Elder during the 2022 election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom.

“Some churches, like Calvary Chapel Chino Hills have chosen to make a mockery of their 501(c)(3) status by reaping all of the benefits of tax exemption while knowingly violating the statute by openly endorsing political candidates running for public office,” FFRF staff attorney Christopher Line wrote in the letter to the IRS.


Last year, Newsom signed a landmark bill that instituted a $20-an-hour minimum wage for most fast food restaurants.

Most. But not all.

AB 1228 carves out an exception for restaurants that operate a bakery on the premises. According to Bloomberg News, Newsom sought that exception, which notably exempts sandwich-and-soup chain Panera Bread from having to pay its employees $20 an hour.

Billionaire Greg Flynn, who owns two dozen Panera Bread restaurants in the Golden State, is a high school chum of Newsom’s, according to the New York Post, and also has engaged in business dealings with the governor. More than that, he’s given at least $164,800 to Newsom’s campaigns.

Newsom spokesman Alex Stack told The Bee in a statement that “this legislation was the result of countless hours of negotiations with dozens of stakeholders over two years. Staff in the Governor’s Office met with dozens of business owners as well as union representatives, as is expected when policies of this consequence are moving through the Legislature.”

Flynn told Bloomberg that he played no role in creating that exemption.


Misinformation further creates distress and confusion for families and loved ones of transgender, gender-diverse, and nonbinary individuals, as they make decisions about their healthcare.”

- The American Psychological Association, in a statement affirming its support for gender-affirming medical care for transgender children, adolescents and adults and criticizing state legislative efforts to restrict access to such care.

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