By Jim Salter // The Associated Press

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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Missouri’s Republican Senate candidate Josh Hawley opposes a federal provision that bars religious organizations from political endorsements, and his upcoming appearance at a Baptist university may provide a test case for the future of the measure.

Hawley, the state’s attorney general, is scheduled to speak Wednesday during chapel at Hannibal-LaGrange University, a 900-student college in Hannibal, 115 miles north of St. Louis.

Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty Executive Director Amanda Tyler said that only once has a religious organization lost its tax-exempt status for a Johnson Amendment violation — after an upstate New York church took out a full-page ad against Bill Clinton days before the 1992 election.

The bigger risk, Tyler said, is allowing partisanship to sow divisions.

Religious organizations “are some of the last community spaces that are not divided along partisan lines,” Tyler said. “That’s a good thing. We should be doing more to protect those spaces and not be divided based on how we vote.”

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