Bishop Victor T. Curry of New Birth Baptist Church in North Miami couldn't have been clearer with his 2,500 congregants on the Sunday before Election Day.
"We are not endorsing Rod Smith,'' Curry said, as the Democratic candidate for governor sat in a pew. "He just happened to be here, and we are nice and courteous people."
Smith then took the stage briefly to address the parishioners. "Just remember that I showed up,'' he said, following Curry's lead.
Curry has reason to be cautious about appearing to offer endorsements. During the 2004 presidential campaign, two religious groups complained to the IRS about the church hosting Terry McAuliffe, then the chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Churches that engage in political activity can jeopardize their tax-exempt status.