Members of a Waynesville, North Carolina Baptist church voted to kick out nine members, including a deacon, who disagreed with the political views of its main pastor, Chan Chandler.

In a special meeting Monday night, Chandler asked congregants of the East Waynesville Baptist Church who voted for John Kerry in the last U.S. presidential election to either repent that action or leave the room. Afterward he called for a vote to remove the nine people who left the meeting from the church’s membership. All but two remaining members attending the meeting voted to remove the nine dissenters.

Later 40 additional church members, who had not attended the Monday meeting, resigned from the church in protest of Chandler’s action.

According to the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina in an interview with the Asheville Citizen-Times, the local newspaper, each church has local bylaws and East Waynesville may have had authority to do such a purge if the bylaws allowed for it.

Even so, according to reports by the Associated Press, the North Carolina Democratic Party claims Chandler may be endangering his church’s tax-free status. U.S. laws prohibit charities, including churches, from taking sides in the political arena.

A loss of tax-free status would bar congregants of the church from writing off tithes as charitable contributions on their income tax statements. Additionally, the church may have to pay taxes on the money it receives from the collection plate.