ORANGE PARK, Fla. (CBS Tampa) – In a state that is expected to help decide November’s general election, President Barack Obama isn’t finding help from one Florida pastor, who’d prefer it if people would vote for a dog over the sitting president.
Assistant Pastor Dan Nelson of St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church reportedly ended his homily by urging parishioners to vote for anybody, even their dog, if it meant not voting to re-elect Obama.
“You can vote for anybody, even a dog, but don’t vote for Obama,” Nelson told parishioners Sunday, according to one couple in attendance for the service.
First Coast News reports that Father James Boddie has since apologized for Nelson’s remarks.
But some parishioners are challenging the wording in Nelson’s alleged statements, saying he never used the word “dog” in his plea for parishioners not to vote for Obama.
“He did not say anything about a dog,” one parishioner told First Coast News. “That is a lie.”
Whether Nelson mentioned a dog in his personal push against the president, his weekend plea pushed the limits for which church officials can publicly talk against politics in a religious setting. Though guidelines from the Florida Conference of Catholic Bishops does not include any language about telling voters how they should vote, any further election or political activity could cost the church its tax-exempt status.
Much like the past three presidential elections, Florida is expected to play a huge role in deciding whether President Obama is re-elected or if Mitt Romney will be the nation’s 45th president. According to the New York Times, Obama holds an 11-vote lead on the projected Electoral College map. Florida and its 29 electoral votes remain a toss-up.