Other relevant essays and articles:
- Church Internal Revenue Code Sections 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status (042814)
- Federal government control of churches through IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exemption (121012)
- The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme (121021)
- The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status (031722)
- Are Churches Automatically Tax Exempt? (040822)
- A Biblical and Legal Analysis of the Helping Hand Outreach Publication, “WHY ALL CHURCHES SHOULD BE A 508(c)(1)(a).”
- Legal answer to Pastor’s inquiry concerning whether a potential donor of substantial gift an claim a tax deduction under IRC Section 508 even though the church will not give an IRS acknowledgement (123118)
1 John 2:5: “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”
John 14:23: “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”
Please feel free to call me at any time to discuss church organization. If you get a voicemail, please leave a message and I will return your call at any time, as does Helping Hand Outreach. This is a ministry and does not charge for ministry services or time. God bless.
Copyright © April 24, 2022
This article, and the resources linked to herein, explains why Helping Hand Outreach is devoid of both Biblical and legal understanding. The Bible–not mysticism, man’s reasoning, man’s philosophies, or man’s law–is to be the sole foundation for all matters of faith and practice. The word of God gives the principles which every Christian and church should seek to honor when considering church order. According to Bible church doctrine, “NO CHURCH SHOULD BE 508(c)(1)(A)” or a legal entity of any kind.
Helping Hand Outreach and its website were pointed out to me by a pastor who took the time to seek out the matter of proper church organization. He examined what they had to say. He stated the charges for their services are considerable and continuing. Then he found the Churches under Christ Ministry website, studied materials on the website, and contacted the ministry. He is now organizing the church he is head elder of according to New Testament principles. This article reveals that Helping Hand Outreach – like StartCHURCH, other similar organizations and many “Christian” lawyers and law firms – are worldly organizations that help churches grieve our Lord and dishonor their His Word, the Bible, by violating New Testament church doctrine. They do so by entangling churches with the state and federal governments. These organizations prey upon the ignorance of pastors, church leaders, and churches. They lead the unlearned into darkness.
Of course, Helping Hand Outreach adds a new twist. The website states: “We are the leader in starting Faith Based Organizations as 508(c)(1)a)’s. We have been performing for 12 years and our FBO’s are operating in 48 out of 50 states.” They state that all churches should be “508(c)(1)(A).” The truth is that no church should be 508(c)(1)(A), 501(c)(3), or a legal entity of any kind.
When I went to the website and clicked the “get started” button and filled in the requested information, they sent me an email which read, in part:
- Thank you for expressing interest in starting a 508(c)(1)(a) Ministry. How your ministry if formed is crucial to what it can and cannot do. Nonprofit organizations are not all the same; some have rights and benefits that others do not.
- Please complete one of the following options. 1) Fill out the order and pay online through our secure shopping cart at https://www.helpinghandoutreach.com/product/508/ or, 2) Fill out the attached PDF “508 Application” and return with payment of a check or payment made by credit card over the phone.
- The filing includes the 1) articles of incorporation, 2) certificate of incorporation, 3) certificate of good standing, 4) SS4 with TEIN from the IRS, 5) the charities registration exemption letter, 6) draft bylaws, and 7) sample first minutes of the board meeting. This is a Washington State filing. The 508 is good in all 50 states and recognized in all foreign countries that have signed the Hague Convention. It is common for ministries to be formed in one state but operate in other states. We serve as the registered agent for your organization.
- The total fees includes recording, all recording fees and the first year of registered agent services is $2500. We do accept pay plans and do not charge any interest on balances. The ministry filing is completed within 20 days.
- In addition we can acquire an apostille if your ministry will be doing international work. An “apostille” is a form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961. A list of countries that accept apostilles is provided by the U.S. State Department. The fee for an apostille is an additional $30.
- After formation, once a year the 508(c)(1)(a) Ministry needs to be renewed. The renewal fee, including the state fee, is $110. Please let us know if you have additional questions.
- Jerald, we look forward to helping you be a light to the world!
See the Endnote for the entire email.
Let me explain, uniquivocally, why “NO CHURCH SHOULD BE 508(c)(1)(A)” and no church should be a legal entity of any kind.
A church dishonors God when she recognizes any authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ep, 5:25). He purchased the church with His own blood (Acts 20:28). Our Lord wishes churches to choose to keep Christ the head (authority) over all things to the church (See, e.g., Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18).
A church under Christ alone is a spiritual non-taxable entity only protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and outside the jurisdiction of man’s law. The pastor of such a church, as well as the church, has all the protections of the First Amendment. He can preach as the Lord, not the federal government, leads.
A church who becomes a legal entity of any kind has chosen another authority, civil government, for many purposes. A legal entity is a temporal earthly entity which can contract, sue, be sued, be charged with a crime, or act legally in any other ways. A church can only become a legal entity through man’s law: through non-profit corporation law, unincorporated association law, charitable trust law, business trust law, Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exemption law, etc. For thorough Biblical and legal explanation see God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. See also, Short Answers to Some Important Questions for shorter quicker answers to some important matters. A church who chooses to become a legal entity has voluntarily placed herself, as a legal person, under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution for many purposes.
Of course, the Helping Hand Outreach publication has a small amount of truth mixed with a lot of lies. For example, as Helping Hand Outreach states, there is considerable confusion about what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit. Their article does not address the cause of the confusion. The cause of the confusion is a lack of knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of God’s word and the application thereof. Pastors and members of churches who choose to remain under Christ and Christ alone have not been confused. They have always, even under penalty of death, preached what the Lord leads them to preach. They have always exercised their God-given freedoms and principles regardless of the laws of civil government. They have always honored civil government as long as civil government law did not require them to disobey God.
America, by making the First Amendment part of the highest law of the land, became the second civil government, with any lasting influence, to protect religious freedom and soul liberty. Originally, the First Amendment applied only to federal jurisdiction. However, in 1833, Massachusetts became the last state to abolish the requirement for church establishment (church incorporation) on the state level. Church legal entity status is a choice, but not a requirement, on the state level. However, most American churches have betrayed God and chosen to become corporations or other types of legal entities on the state level and/or either to apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or claim 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status on the federal level. The Lord Jesus Christ as sole authority over the church is not sufficient for them. See, The History and Meaning of the First Amendment.
Click here to see what President James Madison, the man who had led the fight for the adoption of the First Amendment in 1791, wrote on February 21, 1811 in vetoing with a bill which would have incorporated a church in Washington D.C.
Because of the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions, churches can choose, without persecution, to do things God’s way which is explained in the New Testament. The First Amendment provides for religious freedom and soul liberty. The First Amendment protects those churches who choose to remain under Christ alone.
Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, not Form 1023 as stated in the Helping Hand Outreach publication, violate the First Amendment. Form 1023 is merely an application form, not a law. The tax exempt law, 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A), violates the First Amendment as to churches. Both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. The First Amendment says:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Thus, by voluntarily submitting to a law such as 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), a church has taken herself from under the founding law of the land, the highest law regarding religion, speech, association, and press while submitting to a legislative law which on its face is unconstitutional for churches. Churches choose to do this because of ignorance of God’s will and for perceived “benefits.”
For a complete analysis of church 508(c)(1)(A) status, see Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status. That essay explains in some detail matters such as the difference between church 501(c(3) and 508(c(1)(A) tax exempt status, and church First Amendment non-taxable status.
Even a business which does not make a profit will pay no taxes. Is a church to be an earthly temporal organization whose gifts to the corporation operates under man-made law, rules, and regulations? Or is a church to be a spiritual eternal body ordered according to the principles of God and which uses money given to God according to the will of God? The real reason for federal tax-exempt status, whether through 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), is to assure donors that the IRS will approve tax deductions for gifts. In the event of audit, the donor must show an IRS Acknowledgment from the 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) church. The IRS may require the giver to the 508(c)(1)(A) church to prove that it was a church he gave to. Of course, 501(c)(3) churches are on the IRS list of approved tax exempt organizations.
By giving IRS Acknowledgments, the 508(c)(1)(A) church claims tax exempt status without having filed Form 1023. She has put herself in the same position, by claiming the same status, as the 501(c)(3) church. She has taken herself from under the First Amendment and put herself under a law, a law which the First Amendment forbids, as to churches.
Of course, churches do not have to worry too much anyway. The IRS, to this point in time, does not have the resources and personnel to keep an eye on churches. Besides, cannot churches and pastors can be trusted to proceed with honesty, integrity, knowledge, understanding and wisdom? Or can they? Those who feel that the 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt church is not under the same rules and regulations as other tax exempt churches certainly cannot.
For analysis of 501(c)(3) see: Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exemption and The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme .
The Helping Hand Outreach teaching, WHY ALL CHURCHES SHOULD BE 501(c)(1)(A), mentions only one rule that comes with 501(c)(3), the Johnson Amendment. The truth is that Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status for churches come with five rules and a host of regulations. Note Rule 5, “Shall not violate fundamental public policy,” has not “yet” been applied to churches. See, The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.
No Christian or church should go to Helping Hand Outreach for help with the matter of church organization.
For an examination of many false reasons churches give for legal entity status, see Analysis of False Reasons of Christians and Lawyers for Church Corporate, 501(c)(3), 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status or Legal Status of Any Kind.