Several dozen American pastors put their wallets on the line this weekend, breaking a decades-old ban on political endorsements from the pulpit.

In an organized action, the pastors endorsed Senator John McCain during their sermons and urged their congregants not to vote for Barack Obama.

By doing so, they broke a law that prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from actively engaging in US politics.

The IRS is investigating. Here’s video:

A few years ago, a controversy erupted in Canada over the church’s role in our debate over same-sex marriage. Our Prime Minister at the time was a Catholic – as were a large number of our elected representatives in Parliament – and a number of Roman Catholic officials suggested that those officials wouldn’t be true Catholics if they approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage.

Given that a majority of Canadians approved of gay marriage at the time, the hubbub begged the question:

Do politicians owe allegiance to their religious authorities of choice, or to the citizens who elect them?

It’s a complicated question. Where does freedom of religion end, and obligation begin, for public figures, and – in this case with the pastors – where does the separation of church and state end, and freedom of expression begin?

I’m not sure, but I do know one thing: the Bible doesn’t say a word about voting for John McCain over Barack Obama.

If these pastors want to express their own views, that’s one thing. But suggesting that God himself endorses John McCain? Well, that’s something else — charlatanism.