CHESTERTON | U.S. Senate Republican candidate Richard Mourdock asked Fairhaven Baptist Church members to think about their role as Christians in government.
Mourdock, who has served as Indiana treasurer since 2007, is running against U.S. Rep. Joe Donnelly for the U.S. Senate seat. His comments were made as part of the church's "I Love America Sunday," which church officials said celebrates faith, family and freedom.
American flags adorned the inside of the church and parishioners sang patriotic tunes, such as "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "This is My Country" and "The Battle Hymn of the Republic." Children filed up and down the aisles waving small American flags.
Fairhaven Assistant Pastor Jeff Voegtlin said the church has been hosting the event for about 35 years.
“We want to express our appreciation for our country and for what God has given us, and to not take it for granted,” Voegtlin said.
He said Democrat, Republican and independent politicians from local, state and federal levels were invited to meet with the congregation.
Voegtlin said "I Love America Sunday" is “not necessarily” the same as Pulpit Freedom Sunday, a national movement that seeks to restore the right of pastors to endorse political candidates.
The movement challenges a revision to the tax code passed in 1954 that says pastors cannot speak for or against candidates without having their church's tax exempt status revoked.
Mourdock told church members that separation between church and government doesn't mean political leaders shouldn't be people of faith. He said Abraham Lincoln often recounted how he was driven to his knees because of the pressures of the presidency.
“But what a place to go, to find the guidance only God can give,” Mourdock said.
Fairhaven Pastor Roger Voegtlin thanked Mourdock for his comments and praised him for his efforts to help restore America. He encouraged his congregation to vote in November.
“I believe with all my heart this is the most important election in my lifetime,” Roger Voegtlin said.