June 27, 2015

Is It Time For The Christian Church To Give Up Their 501c3?

by F. L. Anderson


By a vote of five to four, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that same-sex couples may now marry in all 50 states, striking down the bans of states who have attempted do so.

On a face book post, I commented that this decision is just the beginning.

Although "the majority believe the First Amendment gives religious groups and people "proper protection" to "continue to advocate" their beliefs on traditional marriage, the dissenters are more skeptical and concerned that "people of faith can take no comfort" in the ruling."

The concern now is that religious freedom in America is next. Church leaders who refuse to except or marry same-sex couples could be in jeopardy of losing their 501(c)(3) status. Why? Because the funds that support 501(c)(3) are public/government funds. The request and acceptance of the 501(c)(3) status establishes a covenant (a binding agreement and contract) between the government and the church.


Now that the SCOTUS has legalized gay marriage, or should I say redefined it to fit the sin nature of man, some evangelicals believe that Christians should opt out of government-sanctioned marriage. But should churches also opt out of taking government funding and tax exempt recognition 501(c)(3)?

Many church leaders believe that this is a decision that many Christian ministries will soon be forced to make.

Chief Justice Roberts cited a comment made months ago by the U.S. government’s top lawyer on the same-sex marriage case.

“Hard questions arise when people of faith exercise religion in ways that may be seen to conflict with the new right to same-sex marriage — when, for example, a religious college provides married student housing only to opposite-sex married couples, or a religious adoption agency declines to place children with same-sex married couples,” Roberts wrote.

“Indeed, the Solicitor General candidly acknowledged that the tax exemptions of some religious institutions would be in question if they opposed same-sex marriage. See Tr. of Oral Arg. on Question 1, at 36–38. There is little doubt that these and similar questions will soon be before this court. Unfortunately, people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive the majority today."

Prior to 1954, there was no such thing as a 501(c)(3) church. All donations, contributions, gifts, etc. given to churches were automatically tax‑deductible under the old English common law, known as the "Law of Charities." Then, in 1954, Senator Lyndon Baines Johnson (D‑Texas) sponsored legislation which brought churches under the new 501(c)(3) section of the Internal Revenue code.

Deceived into believing that this would garner them limited liability, churches across the country paid out substantial fees to the IRS, to become subservient to the government. If they would have read the fine print, they would have discovered that the IRS's definition of what constitutes a church under 501(c)(3) status, is not the same as what we believe. In the eye's of the IRS, you are no longer a church, but now a "Religious Organization" with prescribed guidelines.

Example:
  • The church must admit that it exists by a privilege granted by the IRS (tax‑exempt), rather than by RIGHT, as granted by God through the Holy Scriptures (non‑taxable);  the latter of which is recognized and guaranteed autonomy by the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, 1st Amendment. The church must thereby recognize another as Head, the State, as opposed to the true Head, which is God.

  • The pastor of the church cannot actively support legislation that declares that children belong to their parents as opposed to the authority of the state.

  • The pastor of the church cannot actively participate in any activity that is in opposition to the public school system.


Today, it is estimated that fully 90% of the "churches" in this nation are 501(c)(3) government sponsored churches, while only 10% are free‑churches, the majority of the 10% are in the state of Virginia. In other words, 90% of American churches are state-owned.

Unfortunately, many misinformed or uninformed church leaders believe that they must have a 501(c)(3) to be recognized as a church. This is not true. Many get all excited about receiving a 501(c)(3), as if this status makes them legitimate; God's calling wasn't good enough.

501(c)(3), good or bad, has had a very distinct effect on churches and how they operate. It has shushed the church on various issues, and has eliminated any influence on shaping public policy. In essence, the church has been bought by the government for a few tax breaks, in exchange for saving a few pennies.

All churches should read page 3 of the tax guide for churches and religious organizations, which says: "Automatic Exemption for Churches that meet the requirements of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS."

So I'll state the question again, is it time to give up those 501(c)(3)s? #iTEACH

Let's change how we do and think about ministry.
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