Those were the Republican primary campaigns of U.S. Rep. Todd Akin for U.S. Senate, and Ed Martin for Missouri attorney general.
The 500,000-member Missouri Baptist Convention is the state arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant denomination in the country, with about 16 million members.
In his column in the May edition of the Pathway, the state convention’s newsjournal, Hinkle wrote that while he did not want an American theocracy, “when it comes to public policy, Southern Baptists must be motivated by love for our fellow citizens, believing that God’s way is the best way.”
For that reason, Hinkle continued, “I personally support candidates like U.S. Rep. Todd Akin, a Republican who wants to challenge Democrat Claire McCaskill for her U.S. Senate seat, and Republican Ed Martin, the St. Louis attorney who is running for state attorney general.”
On Monday, Hinkle tweeted his support for Akin: “I just contributed $100 to support @ToddAkin — Todd Akin for Senate. Help at http://Akin.org.”
Hinkle did not respond to a request from the Post-Dispatch for comment, but he told The Associated Press: “One thing that has drawn me to Todd is his faith.”
That kind of activity was called inappropriate in a letter to the IRS written by Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
“Hinkle, who serves as editor of the publication, characterized his endorsement as’personal,’ but as you know, federal tax law does not permit the employees of tax-exempt organizations to use official publications to intervene in elections.”
A spokesman for the IRS declined a Post-Dispatch request for comment.
Hinkle, 57, is a Tennessee native whose newspaper career began while he was in the U.S. Air Force, according to his biography on the Missouri Baptist Convention’s website. He later worked as a reporter at a succession of newspapers in Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky.
After going back to school to get his master’s degree in Christian education, he began writing for Baptist Press, the official news organization for the Southern Baptist Convention. In 2002, he was named editor of the Pathway.
Hinkle’s columns are often combative and his ire is directed at those he thinks disagree with his conservative views: Democrats, the news media and more moderate Christians.
In the column in which he said he personally supported the candidacies of Akin and Martin, Hinkle also wrote that Republicans make mistakes, too.