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Eleven months out of the year, the parishioners of New York City can safely attend Sunday services with no reasonable fear of interlopers, television cameras or quizzical members of the press.

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, third from right, spoke with Deacon Tyson Lilland at Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, on Sunday.

But this is the electoral playoff season of October, when aspiring statesmen show up on doorsteps more often than jack-o’-lanterns. That means politicians are descending on the pews.

By noon on Sunday, three churches along a single two-mile stretch of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, had played host to three of New York State’s more prominent elected officials: the state’s attorney general and comptroller, both of whom are running for statewide office, and the mayor of New York City.

Coincidence? In campaigns, there may be no such thing.

“When it’s really near an election, we could have one every week,” said W. Ruth Whitney, the political liaison at Mount Sinai Baptist Church in Brooklyn, which regularly receives requests from politicians to pay a visit to the pulpit. “I always tell them to bring a card, because the pastor’s mind is on the sermon. They give a card so he’ll remember who they are.”

In the annals of campaign clichés, going to church ranks somewhere among kissing babies and eating corn dogs at the fair. A politician gets to soak up a sense of moral authority while also demonstrating some personal piety.

But there are strategic advantages, too, particularly in elections where turnout is expected to be light: a chance to convey a message directly to a captive audience of likely voters at an influential community institution.

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Source: New York Times

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