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Cumberland County church faces backlash for showing film featuring Mastriano

Christ Community Church hosted a film premiere with Sen. Mastriano in attendance last week.

CAMP HILL, Pa. — A local church is under fire, after hosting a premiere for a conservative-backed film, "The Return of the American Patriot." 

Christ Community Church in Camp Hill hosted the event after the film was pulled from a Lancaster theater last week. The film features numerous conservative activists, including Republican gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano. 

Mastriano was in attendance for the event.

"There was nothing wrong with the film, it was very well done, and I’m confident in how we handled it," said John March, Executive Pastor at Christ Community Church.

The event drew criticism online. Some people even filed complaints against the church to the IRS, claiming that the church violated its tax-exempt status by engaging in political activity in support of a candidate.

March says the church did nothing wrong.

“There was no promotion done for him running for Governor in anyway," said Pastor March. "That was how we set it up in the beginning, if they were going to do it.”

March says the producers of the film reached out to the church to rent out the facility. The church allowed the screening to go on, so long as the event didn’t cross any lines and support Mastriano’s campaign.

“There was no signage, there was no t-shirts or caps, there was nothing that was done by us or by them that promoted him to be our next governor," said March.

Numerous people online suggested the event broke the line between the separation of church and state. 

March says the claims by residents are not true, and that the film was not intended to promote Mastriano.

“They’re upset that the church hosted something that they did not like, and I guess at times that’s going to happen," he said.

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