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Mr. Shackelford said the foundation retained the Liberty Legal Institute, which then gathered a team of legal experts to defend the foundation. In an unusual move, Liberty Legal attorneys not only sought a win, but also an IRS guidance letter making clear such pastors’ events are approved and valid. The IRS letter approving the events is just what they hoped for.

Lutheran pastor Lawrence White, director of the Niemoller Foundation, said: “The IRS has unequivocally affirmed the right of pastors nationwide to come together as spokesmen for the Word of God, to interact with political leaders, historians and scholars in discussing the moral issues under debate within our culture, to assert their Biblical responsibility, to address such issues from their pulpits.”

The IRS ruling is expected to help Mr. Perry in his expected primary face-off with Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison next year. Conservatives, who generally speak highly of Mr. Perry, nonetheless are carefully eyeing both Mr. Perry and Mrs. Hutchison, and religious voters probably will be the bloc that tips the primary toward one or the other.