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IRS asked to investigate South Florida church hosting Trump campaign event

Pastor of King Jesus International Ministry insists church just renting space to president’s re-election campaign

Jorge Alfonso, 56, of Miami, waits in line outside of the King Jesus International Ministry church where President Donald Trump is slated to hold a rally for evangelical supporters, Jan. 3, 2020. Alfonso, originally from Cuba, has been a parishioner at the church for five years.
Jorge Alfonso, 56, of Miami, waits in line outside of the King Jesus International Ministry church where President Donald Trump is slated to hold a rally for evangelical supporters, Jan. 3, 2020. Alfonso, originally from Cuba, has been a parishioner at the church for five years. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – The Freedom from Religion Foundation is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a West Kendall church hosting a campaign event for President Donald Trump.

Trump was scheduled to speak Friday at a campaign event at King Jesus International Ministry.

Pastor Guillermo Maldonado said the church is just renting space to Trump's 2020 re-election campaign and not sponsoring a political event or endorsing the president.

But the Freedom from Religion Foundation claims Maldonado’s actions are a clear violation of IRS regulations prohibiting organizations from participating in political campaigns.

“It’s a free society. I think that it should be open,” Ronald Gawronski, former vice-chairman of Trump’s 2016 Miami-Dade County election campaign, told Local 10 News. “If someone has a problem with that, well, they speak out. And if someone has a problem with those people that speak up, then they speak up. That’s our society.”

Maldonado was among 200 evangelicals who signed a letter refuting a Christian magazine that said the president should be removed from office. He preaches to many who are undocumented and assured them that they have nothing to fear amid concerns they could be deported if they attend the event.

“I ask you: Do you think I would do something where I would endanger my people? I’m not that dumb,” Maldonado told parishioners during a Sunday Spanish-language service.

The controversy didn’t stop Trump supporters from lining up outside the church for a chance to see their president.

“I’m excited because he’s doing stuff for the Christians now,” one woman said.