All posts by Jerald Finney

Jerald Finney was the lead counsel for the Biblical Law Center ("BLC") from May, 2005 until 2011. The BLC helps churches who desire to organize according to New Testament principles. In 2016, he again worked with the BLC and still does, but he now heads up the Churches under Christ Ministry which is under the authority of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo TX. Finney is a licensed attorney who can be reached at 512-785-8445 jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net. Over the last few years he has lectured and preached on the issues concerning government, church, and separation of church and state. God called Finney, a Christian and fundamental Baptist since his salvation, to enter the University of Texas School of Law in 1990 at the age of 43 to stand in the gap concerning legal issues facing Christians. Since being saved, he has been a faithful and active member of a local fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist church. He received his JD degree in 1993 and has followed the Lord in the practice of law since that time. Finney received his law license in November 1993 and began practicing law in January, 1994. All along he was seeking the Lord’s direction. The Lord initially led Finney to practice criminal law. He knew that not many, if any, of the Christian law firms dealt with or specialized in criminal law, and that some Christians were being charged with crimes for their Christian behavior and for taking a stand for God’s principles. The Lord confirmed Finney's choice. Very soon after he started practicing, he helped an Eastern Orthodox priest with a criminal charge. He was charged under a criminal statute for trying to expose the promotion of sodomy and other sins within a Catholic Church. God gave the victory in that case. Then Steve, a Christian who counseled outside abortion clinics, called Finney. He was charged with a crime under the Austin, Texas Sign Ordinance for his activities outside an abortion clinic. Being a new lawyer, Finney called the Rutherford Institute. They asked him to send them a summary of the facts and a copy of the Sign Ordinance. Then they told him that the case could not be won and that they would not help. Steve lost at trial, but God gave the victory on appeal. The Austin Police Department immediately cited Steve for violation of the state sign ordinance. The Lord gave the victory at trial. Finney's first felony trial came about a year and six months after he started practicing law. A single Christian mother was charged with third degree felony injury to a child for spanking her six year old son. She left some prominent stripes across his rear end and also a stripe across his face when he turned suddenly during the spanking. The Lord gave the victory at trial. At the same time, Finney was also representing another Christian married lady who was charged with the same crime for spanking her little girl with a switch. On the date the trial in that case was to begin, the prosecutor, with prompting by the judge, lowered the offer to deferred adjudication probation of short duration on a misdemeanor charge with very few conditions on the probation. In a deferred adjudication in Texas, there is never a judgment of guilt if the probationer successfully completes the term of the probation, (and, with successful completion of the probation, the probationer can now file a Motion for Nondisclosure which, if granted, requires the file to be sealed so that the general public has no access to it). The mother decided to take the offer. The Lord has also allowed Finney to help Christian parents in numerous situations involving Child Protective Services (“CPS”) infringement into parental rights. God has given the victory in all those situations. The Lord has also used Finney to intervene in numerous situations where government officials or private companies tried to deny certain Christians their rights to do door-to-door evangelization, preach on the street, hand out gospel literature in the public forum, and pass out gospel tracts and communicate the gospel at their place of employment. Finney has also fought other legal spiritual battles including a criminal case in San Antonio. A peaceful pro-life advocate was arrested and charged with criminal trespass for handing pro-life literature giving information about the development of the unborn baby, places to go for help, and other information to women entering an abortion clinic. All the above-mentioned cases as well as others not mentioned were handled free of charge (except the last spanking case for which Finney received $750). In 2005 Finney became lead counsel for the Biblical Law Center. Since his early Christian life, he has considered the issue of separation of church and state as taught in the Bible to be one of the primary issues facing New Testament churches today. He believes, based upon what the Bible teaches, that operating as a corporation (sole or aggregate), unincorporated association, or any other type of legal entity and/or getting a tax exempt status from the federal government at the very least puts the church under the headship of both the Lord and the state, and may even take the church from under the headship of Christ and put the church under the headship of the state. He believes that taking scriptures out of context and applying human reasoning contrary to biblical teaching (such as “Obey every ordinance of man,” or “We should be good stewards and incorporation is good stewardship”) in order to justify unbiblical marriage with the state causes our Lord much grief. Once he took on the position as counsel for the BLC, it was necessary to do an in-depth study of the issue of separation of church and state. He began with the Bible. He initially read through the Bible at least five times (and many more times since then) primarily seeking the answer to the question, “Does the Bible have anything to say about this issue?” He was amazed at what He learned. The Bible gives God’s principles concerning separation of church and state, the purpose of a church, the purpose of the civil government, the headship of church, the headship of civil government, the principles by which each is to be guided, and much more concerning these two God ordained institutions. He continued to read the Bible daily seeking insights into these and other issues. He also began to read other books. he had already read starting shortly after being saved, books and other information by Christian authors. For example, he had read, among other works, A Christian Manifesto[1], The Light and the Glory,[2] From Sea to Shining Sea,[3] The Myth of Separation and some other works by David Barton, [4]Rewriting America’s History,[5] and America’s God and Country.[6] These resources inspired, influenced and guided him and millions of other Christians, gave them philosophical and historical underpinning, and led them into battlefields such as politics, law, and education armed with what they learned from those resources. Sometime in 2006 he began to realize that some of the books by Christian authors which he had come to depend upon were misleading, at the very least. Other books revealed to him that some of the above mentioned books had misinformed and misled sincere Christians by revising and/or misrepresenting the true history of separation of church and state in America. In 2006, he read One Nation Under Law[7] which cites a wealth of resources for one seeking to understand the history of separation of church and state in the United States and of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[8] Reading One Nation Under Law, some of the books it cited, and some other books was a launching pad into the universe of historical information which he never dreamed existed. He had expected to be misled in the secular law school he attended. He was amazed that he had been misled by Christian brothers. I asked myself, “How could Peter Marshall and others have missed this vital information?” At an Unregistered Baptist Fellowship conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, James R. Beller, a Baptist historian, gave a PowerPoint presentation which gave him the answer to this question. Finney bought two of Beller's books and read them. Those books filled in the details not mentioned in Pastor Beller’s concise PowerPoint presentation. Since that time, God has led Finney into an in depth study of the issues of government, church, and separation of church and state. God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and the other books he has written and listed on this website were written as a result of those studies. God Betrayed is not a rehash of the same information that has been circulated in the Fundamental Baptist and Christian community through sermons, books, seminars, etc. since at least 1982, the year Finney was saved. God Betrayed and Finney's other books reveal facts and information that must be understood in order for a pastor and other Christians to begin to successfully (in God's eyes) fight the spiritual warfare we are engaged in according to knowledge. Finney believes that the lack of attention to the biblical doctrines concerning government, church (which is likened to the wife and bride of Christ), and separation of church and state, has had dire consequences for individuals, families, churches, and America. Unless pastors educate themselves on these doctrines and their application in America, the rapid downhill slide will continue at an accelerating pace. [1] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981). [2] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977). [3] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, From Sea to Shining Sea (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1986). [4] David Barton, The Myth of Separation, What is the Correct relationship between Church and State? (Aledo, Texas: Wallbuilder Press, 1992). [5] Catherine Millard, Rewriting America’s History (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Horizon House Publishers, 1991). [6] William J. Federer, America’s God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, Texas: FAME Publishing, Inc., 1994). [7] Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005). [8] The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “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.” The religion clause, properly interpreted, as is shown in God Betrayed, is a correct application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state.

More StartCHURCH Deception: “Every church member can be sued if the church is an unincorporated association. Therefore, every church should incorporate.” WRONG.

StartCHURCH ad gets the attention of unknowledgeable “Christians” with deceptive statements such as “All members of one church get sued at the same time.” But the court in the case they rely on said, “No, your class action against all the members will not be allowed.” Again, StartCHURCH uses fear and deceit to terrorize, prociure customers, and make big bucks.

Jerald Finney
Attorney at Law and Born Again Believer
Texas Bar Number 00787466
Copyright © September 6, 2022

This essay speaks to another false ad by StartCHURCH meant to strike fear into churches and believers so as to induce them to use their expensive and continuing services of “helping” churches organize and operate contrary to Bible and legal principles. StartCHURCH and like organizations rely on fantasy—not knowledge, understanding and wisdom—to sell their anti-God services.

See Endnote[i] or click here to go to the online ad, for the complete StartCHURCH advertisement this essay addresses.

To fully understand the dishonesty of the ad requires a knowledge of Bible church doctrine, corporation law, federal tax exemption law, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions as well as a careful analysis of the ad itself and the case cited therein, Hutchins v. Grace Tabernacle 804 S.W.2d 598 (Tex. App. 1991) (https://casetext.com/case/hutchins-v-grace-tabernacle).

The first heading in the ad is the title to the ad: “All Members of One Church Get Sued at the Same Time.” The title states a lie. Yes, as the ad states, the plaintiff filed a class action against all members of the church. However, the interlocutory order of the 333rd District Court of Harris County, Texas denied plaintiff’s request to certify a class action. The 1st Court of Appeals, First District, Houston Texas, affirmed the District Court ruling. In other words, the plaintiff’s attempt to continue the suit as a class action failed.

One very important thing to understand about the StartCHURCH dishonesty here is that a legal entity (person(s), corporation(s), etc.) can file a false suit. If that happens, the defendant must respond correctly, as did the defendant in this case. A plaintiff could also improperly file such a suit against all members of a corporate church. Then, I am sure that StartCHURCH would be glad to help the members of the corporate church who were sued in dealing with the court case; for a good fee, of course. The StartCHURCH ad is intended to persuade churches that – because plaintiff filed the action against all members of a church which had not employed StartCHURCH in organizating as a corporation, was not incorporated, and could not be sued – the first thing every church should do is to incorporate.

If a plaintiff files a suit against a church which is not a legal entity and therefore cannot be sued, a Church under Christ alone, someone in the church should file a motion contesting jurisdiction.  StartCHURCH presents us with a case in which plaintiff’s class action against all the members failed, but StartCHURCH still, for it’s insidious and profit making motives, claimed that all the members were sued at the same time.

Sadly, in the case cited and relied upon by the StartCHURCH ad, the church could not be sued since it was not an entity (as recognized by the plaintiff and the Court), but argued that it was an entity which could be sued and also that the members could not be sued. As the Appeals Court opinion states, “In brief, the Church wants both the advantage of an unincorporated entity (no liability for the entity), and at the same time wants the advantage of a corporate entity (no liability for its members.” – But see the remaninder of this essay on this latter statement by the court.)

The paragraph under the title, the first heading, to the StartCHURCH ad states: “‘Members of an unincorporated association are individually liable for tortious acts of agents or employees of the association if the tort is committed within the scope of their authority’ (Hutchins v. Grace Tabernacle 804 S.W.2d 598 (Tex. App. 1991)).” Of course, the ad does not explain that the members of a corporation (including members of a church non-profit corporation) are individually liable for the tortious acts of agents or employees of the association if the tort is committed within the scope of their authority.”

No matter the way a church is organized, a member who is directly involved or interested in any act, tort, affair, contract, transaction or legal proceeding is a “party.” For example, a person who has been given and accepts the responsibility to keep the entry way to a church meetinghouse safe, regardless of the legal status of the church (incorporated legal entity or not) may be sued should a non-member (and maybe a member, depending upon the law of the state), slip and injure himself upon ice left unattended by the person(s) responsible for removing the ice and any other members who saw the danger and said or did nothing about it.

The members of the incorporated church own and fund the corporation. Should someone file a suit against the church corporation (and anyone who is a party to the tort) and prevail, who pays the judgment against the corporation? The corporation. Who funds the corporation? The members. The court will hold the corporation responsible for paying the judgment. Ultimately, the members will furnish the funds to pay the judgment, unless the corporation has insurance, in which case the members paid for the insurance. It goes without saying that, in general, it is wise for every owner of real estate to purchase liability insurance. Additionally, the Lord makes clear that one is to love others and himself. Is trying to avoid helping another who was injured due to one’s individual or church knowling, intentional, negligent, or reckless act loving one’s neighbor? Again, obtaining insurance is a wise way to love one’s neighbor.

The second heading in the StartCHURCH ad is “Unincorporated churches with voting members are most at risk.” Wrong again. First, the analysis above addresses some aspects of this false argument.

Second, unincorporated churches which have not forfeited their non-legal entity status (their First Amendment status) are not at risk of being sued; they cannot be sued as the case cited by StartCHURCH makes clear.  Members of all churches, whether the church can be sued or not,  should not, if they love others as commanded, try to escape responsibility for harming others, dishonoring contracts, mortgage of lease agreements, etc.

Third, StartCHURCH contends that members in an unincorporated church who vote on “issues such as salaries, purchase contracts, and other important things like real estate transactions and lease agreements” … “take upon themselves potential personal liability because they  become a direct personal party to the contract or transaction. This could bring disastrous results [notice the hyperbole].” One who votes on such matters in an incorporated church can also be held to be a liable party. If one votes to approve a contract, salary, real estate transaction, etc., that person has given their authority for the act and any wrong committed in violation of the agreement involved. The matter of “piercing the corporate veil” may come into issue in some cases. Remember, should the corporation be found liable, the members fund the corporation.

If a person is ruled by fear, no matter how the church is organized, the wisest course of action for him is to abstain from becoming a party by not participating in any church affair. Such a person should not become a member of a church. Surely, if he wants to be religious, he will be able to find a church which will allow him to show up, sing, worship, hear the weekly lecture(s), give (especially if he gives to the corporation if the church is incorporated), etc. without requiring him to be a member.

The third heading of the StartCHURCH ad is “One of the first acts of a church.” The ad then states:

  • “Incorporating ought to be one of the first acts of any church.  In 2010, approximately 1,000 churches per month were sued.  That number is likely to keep rising because today, many churches are starting in homes, hotel conference rooms, and schools, which means they have to sign more contracts and enter into unusual contracts.  It is important to ensure that your church forms a legal structure to protect its members, board, and trustees.  As mentioned before, incorporating should be done before conducting your first service.”

Of course, perhaps StartCHURCH is correct should one leave out of consideration his God-given goal (the glory of God; see, e.g., Revelation 4:11: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”); God’s principles concerning churches built by Christ as expressed in the New Testament and especially God’s epistles written by the hand or dictation of the Apostle Paul; the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions; and his conscious (knowledge of good an evil).

  • Ephesians 1:22: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.”
  • Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
  • Acts 20:28: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
  • Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

It is interesting to note that StartCHURCH gives no authority for their positions from the God’s Word.

Most importantly, a church who chooses to submit herself to any authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ has grieved our Lord by committing spiritual fornication. For short answers to any questions this may raise, please see Short Answers to Some Important Questions, Basic Course, Bible Studies: The Doctrine of the Church.  No church who wishes to please God should ever combine with civil government through incorporatipon, Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508 (c)(1)(A) tax exempt status; contract, purchase or lease real estate, purchase insurance, or do anything else which sets the church up as an entity which can be sued.

Should a church choose, by her actions and declarations, to remain totally separate from and outside the authority of civil government the church will have all her First Amendment protections and cannot be sued. The First Amendment is the highest law of the land concerning churches, church establishment, religious freedom; freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of press.

Civil government has no jurisdiction over a church which is not a legal entity such as a corporation; such a church cannot sue or be sued or act legally in some other way. As pointed out above, if someone tries to sue a church which is not a legal entity,  lack of jurisidiction should be presented to the court. Remember, as well, that no matter how a church is organized, those responsible for tortious or wrongdoing where one has a duty to act or not can be taken to court. Insurande is wise where appropriate.

Again, believers should not try to avoid restitution to those who are damaged by their actions; we are to love others as we love ourselves – to do unto others as we would have them do unto us. The Churches under Christ Ministry, at no charge, shows churches and believers how do deal with all these matters so as to honor both God and man.

The fourth heading of the StartCHURCH ad is: “What happens when you incorporate your church?” Under this heading, StartCHURCH states:

  •  “The legal concept of an artificial person exists where state law has created laws recognizing a corporation.  The laws of all fifty states allow churches to create a corporation that exists separate from that of its members, officers, and board. The church uses the corporation to conduct its business and manage its assets.”

Yes, “A church may choose to apply for corporate status under state law.” However, If the state approves the church application for incorporation, the church becomes a creature of the state, a temporal, earthly, legal entity as opposed to an eternal, heavenly, spiritual entity. Incorporation combines church and state (the unholy is combined with the holy so as to profane the holy) in violation of Romans 13, 1 Peter 2, the Old Testament doctrine of civil government, and New Testament church doctrine. The corporation is a creation of state law and is governed by the law of incorporation. The procedures, officers, members, and board of a corporation are all required and controlled by the non-profit corporation law of the state of incorporation. The church and the corporation are intertwined. Members of incorporated churches can sue the pastor, other church members, the church, etc. as to many church disagreements and matters matters since the state is sovereign of and authority over many corporate matters. The head of and authority over the incorporated church for many matters is the state not the Lord Jesus Christ. The following resources explain incorporation in much more detail:

The fifth heading of the StartCHURCH ad is: “What is indemnification?” It states under that heading:

“When a church forms a corporation, it receives special power to indemnify its pastors, board members, and employees from liability for the action they take in behalf of the church.  This allows one to serve on the board with the confidence of knowing that the acts he/she performs in behalf of the church will not come back to haunt him/her.”

One cannot protect a person, even a pastor, board member, or employee for torts or crimes for the action they take on behalf of the church. Indemnification does give some protection from suit by members of the church, but not from suit by outside parties suing the individual for his alleged wrongdoing which harmed a plaintiff.

1 Corinthians 6 makes clear that churches are to judge internal church infractions. God directs that such matters are not to be submitted to outside authorities.

The sixth heading of the StartCHURCH ad is: “Where is your church?” Under that heading, it states”

“Right now, there are many churches operating on a deficient legal foundation.  Most pastors I have met state that from the first day they started their church, they had always intended on doing things the right way, but then ministry, preaching, and life got in the way.  That does not have to be you.  Today is the best day to start getting right.

StartCHURCH recommends spiritually prostituting your church and calls it “getting right.” See, SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE: CHRISTIANS WHO CALL EVIL GOOD AND GOOD EVIL “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Is. 5.20)!

Click here to go to The False and Misleading Teachings and Advertisements of StartChurch, Another Spiritual and Legal Deceiver (091212)

Click here to go to ANALYSIS OF FALSE REASONS OF CHRISTIANS AND LAWYERS FOR CHURCH CORPORATE, 501(C)(3) AND 508(C)(1)(A) TAX EXEMPT STATUS OR LEGAL STATUS OF ANY KIND

Endnote

[i] The following is a copy and paste of a StartCHURCH ad at: https://www.startchurch.com/blog/view/name/all-members-of-one-church-get-sued-at-the-same-time

 All Members of One Church Get Sued at the Same Time

Several years ago a church in Texas ran into some trouble when a man wanted to sue the church.  The problem, however, was that the church was not incorporated, and so it could not be sued.  Instead, he filed a class action lawsuit against every member of the church.  Could he sue every member?  Does the law allow members to be sued personally?  The court that heard the case stated, “An unincorporated association is a voluntary group of persons, without a charter, formed by mutual consent for the purposes of promoting a common enterprise.”  The court also stated, “Members of an unincorporated association are individually liable for tortious acts of agents or employees of the association if the tort is committed within the scope of their authority” (Hutchins v. Grace Tabernacle United Pentecostal Church).

Unincorporated churches with voting members are most at risk

This court case brings up something that ought to make its members think twice about their legal status as a church.  There are many churches that have voting members who vote on many issues such as salaries, purchase contracts, and other important things like real estate transactions and lease agreements.  In essence, when members of the unincorporated church vote on a particular item, they are taking upon themselves potential personal liability because they become a direct personal party to the contract or transaction.  This could bring disastrous results.

In the case of the church in Texas, the court stated that the ” . . . members of an unincorporated association are individually liable for tortituous acts of agents or employees of the association if the tort is committed within the scope of their authority.” However, the appeals court remanded the case back to the trail court because the plaintiff committed a procedural error in filing her paperwork and claim with the court seeking class action; one that could be easily fixed.  The point we must not miss is that,  the court made it very clear that the members of an unincorporated church could be sued personally for the tortiuous acts of its ” . . . agents or employees of the association if the tort is committed within the scope of their authority.”

One of the first acts of a church

Incorporating ought to be one of the first acts of any church.  In 2010, approximately 1,000 churches per month were sued.  That number is likely to keep rising because today, many churches are starting in homes, hotel conference rooms, and schools, which means they have to sign more contracts and enter into unusual contracts.  It is important to ensure that your church forms a legal structure to protect its members, board, and trustees.  As mentioned before, incorporating should be done before conducting your first service.

What happens when you incorporate your church?

The legal concept of an artificial person exists where state law has created laws recognizing a corporation.  The laws of all fifty states allow churches to create a corporation that exists separate from that of its members, officers, and board. The church uses the corporation to conduct its business and manage its assets.

What is indemnification?

When a church forms a corporation, it receives special power to indemnify its pastors, board members, and employees from liability for the action they take in behalf of the church.  This allows one to serve on the board with the confidence of knowing that the acts he/she performs in behalf of the church will not come back to haunt him/her.

Where is your church?

Right now, there are many churches operating on a deficient legal foundation.  Most pastors I have met state that from the first day they started their church, they had always intended on doing things the right way, but then ministry, preaching, and life got in the way.  That does not have to be you.  Today is the best day to start getting right.

 

The three methods of trying to live the Christian life

From his teaching on Galatians
Dr. J. Vernon McGee

For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another” (Galatians 5:13).

There are 3 methods of trying to live the Christian life—two will not work. One is a life of legalism, which Paul has been discussing. The other is the life of license, which Paul discussed in Romans 6. You may fall into sin, but you will get out of it.

The 3rd method iof living the Christian life is the life of liberty. The remainder of Dr. McGee’s teaching in this chapter of Galatians will give the modus operandi for living by liberty. The life of legalism includes the 10 Commandments plus a set of regulations that Bible believers follow today. They will tell you where you can’t go and what you can’t do. Like, don’t use make-up, don’t wear this, etc. Do things which please the Lord, but do them because you love him, not in order to keep the law.

“Only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh.” It is grace, not law, that frees us from doing wrong and allows us to do right. Grace does not set us free to sin, but it sets us free from sin. The believer should desire to please God, not because he is a slave, but because he is a son and he wills to please his father. He does what God wants, not because he fears to do otherwise like an enemy, but because he wants to do it, for God is his friend. God is the One who loves him. He serves God, not because of pressure from without such as the law, but because of a great principle within—even the life of Christ that is within him.

We serve God because we love him. The whole basis of obedience is a love relationship to Him. The law never could bring us to that place. It was negative to begin with. It produced negative goodness—which is a kind of goodness many have today. Negative goodness is legal goodness. You can say, “I don’t do this and I don’t do that.” But what do you do? All these systems produce negative goodness. They never rise to the sphere of positive goodness where one does things to please God for the very love of pleasing Him. He wants us to serve Him on that basis.

Putting the Lighted Candle under a Basket: The Shame of Many “Unregistered” Churches (Churches under Christ Alone)

Jerald Filnney
Copyright © May 28, 2022

“No man, when he hath lighted a candle, putteth it in a secret place, neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick, that they which come in may see the light. The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness. Take heed therefore that the light which is in thee be not darkness. If thy whole body therefore be full of light, having no part dark, the whole shall be full of light, as when the bright shining of a candle doth give thee light” (Luke 11:33-36); See also, Matthew 5:14-5; Mark 4:21-22; Luke 8:16-18.

Bible Doctrine of the Church

According to God, what is a church that Jesus builds? I believe that  Christ would like believers to know the answer to this question to which so much of His Word is devoted to answering. Not only does Christ wish believers to know the answer to this question, He wishes them to practice the answer and to shine the light of that truth upon the church, other churches, and the world. See, e.g. 1 Peter 2:9; 1 John 1:7. Matthew 5:14-16; Luke 1:79, 2:32, 8:16, 11:33-36, 12:3; John 3:19, 21, 8:12, 11:10; Acts 13:47, 26:18; Romans 13:12; 2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Corinthians 6:14; Ephesians 5:8, 13; Colossians 1:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:5

The local church is preeminent to Christ. Christ lets us know how important the church is to Him. He tells us, for example, that:

  • He purchased the church “with his own blood” (Acts 20:28);
  • A church is espoused to Christ. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27).
  • He wishes to be the only authority over His churches (See, e.g., Ephesians 1:22; Colossians 1:18).

Are believers and churches ashamed to practice and declare God’s revelations and principles? The Apostle Paul certainly was not, starting with the” gospel of Christ,” “the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth: to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). But Paul’s dedication did not stop with declarations and actions concerning the gospel of Christ. Paul boldly proclaimed and taught all that God entrusted to Him. God committed to Paul the unfolding of the “doctrines of grace which were latent in the teachings of Jesus Christ. Paul originates nothing, but unfolds everything, concerning the nature and purpose of the law; the ground and means of the believer’s justification, sanctification, and glory; the meanings of the death of Christ, and the position, walk, expectation, and service of the Christian.”

God, by revelation, made known to Paul the mystery of the church (Ephesians 3:2-12). Paul wrote that complete revelation in His Epistles so that God’s children and churches “may understand” God’s knowledge concerning the churches. God’s Pauline epistles:

  • “develop the doctrine of the church. In seven letters to Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica), the church, the ‘mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God’ (Ephesians 3:9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God.”

Through the Pauline epistles:

  • “we know that a church is not an organization, but an organism., the body of Christ; instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise and destiny. Through those epistles alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings.”

Most pastors and other mature members of the churches that the Biblical Law Center and this ministry have helped to organize according to Christ’s will veil their light concerning church organization. They are ashamed of what they have done. They are unwilling to follow the example of the Apostle Paul. Some reasons for their reluctance include:

  • Failure to study the doctrine and the application of the doctrine.
  • Inability to teach or choice not to teach the doctrine.
  • Fear of offending immature, disruptive, and/or prospective church members.
  • Fear of offending other churches and pastors with whom they associate.
  • Their agenda leaves no time for the study, teaching, and application of the doctrine.
  • They teach again the  “first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat” to new believers but forget that some “are of full age, even those who be reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil” See Hebrews 5:11-6:3.

Both doctrine and application are emphasized in Scripture. Without wisdom (the right use or exercise of knowledge), knowledge has no effect and is useless or even counterproductive. Churches lose the power of, and cause unbelievers, to blaspheme God, resulting in salvation of fewer and fewer souls.

“He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:4-5). “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” (John 14:23). The commandments are in the word of God, but they are not the word of God. The word of God is much more than commandments. For example, within the word of God are principles. Bible church doctrine is extensive and comprehensive. It includes principles which God desires to be understood, taught, and practiced.

Christ said that He loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He did not command that a church love Him, but obviously His word makes clear in His word that He wants every church to love Him. Love must be a choice; it can be commanded, as it was under the law. However, the law proved that commanding love does not produce love. Even those under the law chose to love God because of their hearts, not because of the commandment. Believers should be diligent to remember that the love of God is perfected in those who keep His word.

Sin can be by commission. Sin can also be by omission: “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin” (James 4:17). We should all strive to be in God’s perfect will, which means trying to keep God’s word without omission.

Therefore, from this point on, all churches who wish the help of this ministry must, in advance, agree to shine their light by practicing the spirit and actions of the following excerpt from the Resolution to Adopt the Declaration of Trust.:

“WHEREAS: The church body of [Name of Church], a local New Testament church—in order to perpetually benefit, educate, and set an example for present and future members of [Name of Church], other churches, the general public, and the world—desires to execute and implement comprehensive documents which obey, glorify, and please God by, among other matters:

  1. “Declaring the New Testament Bible doctrines and principles upon which [Name of Church] relies for church organization under Christ and Him alone.
  2. “Declaring Bible doctrines and principles concerning church, state, and the God-ordained relationship between church and state.
  3. “Declaring the American legal basis upon which [Name of Church] relies for church organization under the authority of Christ and Him alone.
  4. “Declaring the elements of the irrevocable common law trust.
  5. “Defining the nature of the irrevocable common law trust, a relationship with property only, a non-legal entity which conforms to Bible doctrine, principle, and example.”

They must agree from their heart, because they love the Lord, that they will give copies of the trust documents to all past, present, and future church members or the heads of families. They must, in advance, desire and agree to make sure that all church members—past, present, and future—will be taught the Bible doctrine of the church and the application of that doctrine. They must desire to show their love for the lord by putting their candles on a candlestick. If they choose not to agree to these matters, they are still free to execute their own organization as their heart leads. This ministry is here to help those who agree. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed” (Amos 3:3)?

Local churches who keep God’s word are to shine for all the world to see. When one puts a candle under a basket, the candle is hidden and lack of oxygen may, and I believe will, extinguish the candle.

Note. This does not apply to churches who have already been helped by the Biblical Law Center or this ministry.

Faith Baptist Church Trust; Kearney, Nebraska

Pastor Clarence Patterson and Faith Baptist Church of Kearney, Nebraska declared the common law trust relationship with property in 2003, the year Pastor Patterson was called to be pastor of the church. Prior to coming to Faith Baptist Chruch, he had pastored incorporated churches since 1979.

I have found Pastor Patterson to be a great hero of the faith, a pastor dedicated to honoring the Lord Jesus Christ and reaching people. His authority is the Word of God and he understands the importance of applying Bible principles in all matters of faith and practice.

He began to study the issue of church incorporation in the early 1980’s because of battles that were going on with state control of churches: for example, the battles over state licensure of Church Schools in Nebraska (which the churches won), the battle over the Roloff Children’s home in Texas, and the Indianapolis Baptist Temple battle in Indiana.

He came to be a close friend and confidant of Dr. Greg Dixon. His reply when a pastor would say something such as, “Dr. Dixon is an idiot” was, “Do you know Dr. Dixon. He would be glad to talk with you and your grievances with him.” The pastor would usually, at that point start stammering and stuttering.

When he was called to pastor Faith Baptist Church in 2003, he taught New Testament principles of church organization. As a result, the church declared a trust relationship with property, thereby rejecting the corporate status.

Website: https://www.faithbaptistofkearney.com/  (click to go directly to website)
Church office: 308-237-5237
Pastor Cell: 308-440-8757
Bus Ride: 308-293-6368
Email: faithbaptistofkearney@gmail.com

A Biblical and Legal Analysis of “How to Start a Church” by Helping Hands Outreach

Other relevant essays and articles:

  1. Church Internal Revenue Code Sections 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status (042814)
  2. Federal government control of churches through IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exemption (121012)
  3. The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme (121021)
  4.  The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status (031722)
  5. Are Churches Automatically Tax Exempt? (040822)
  6. A Biblical and Legal Analysis of the Helping Hand Outreach Publication, “WHY ALL CHURCHES SHOULD BE A 508(c)(1)(a).”
  7. 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.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 24, 2022

This article, and the resources linked to herein, explain 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.


Endnote

508(c)(1)(a) Application
Yahoo/Inbox
  • Dan Peterson <info@helpinghandoutreach.org>Unsubscribe
    To:Jerald
    Tue, Apr 26 at 7:03 PM
    508(c)(1)(a) Application
    Hello Jerald,
    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!
    May the Lord Bless you and keep you,
    Dan Peterson
    253-459-9553
    Why All Churches Should Be A 508(c)(1)(a)
    Many professionals have been asking for more detailed information on Section 508(c)(1)(a). We have prepared a legal analysis about the legislative history, intent, and court rulings concerning Faith Based Organizations organizing and operating under Section 508(c)(1)(a) and Section 501(c)(3). If you value freedom of speech and freedom to express religion, please click on the link below to our website for this important information.
    Like Twitter
    3501 S 38th St #109, Tacoma, WA 98409, United States
    You may unsubscribe or change your contact details at any time.

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Concerning Stand-alone Ministry outside the Authority of a Local Church and the Obligations of a Church Who Takes a Ministry under Her Umbrella With Comments from a Bible Believing/Preaching Pastor Included

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 19, 2022

I received the following email today, April 19, 2022.

Hello Brother Finney,

My husband and I are pastors at a 501c3 church. We felt the Lord leading us to start a ministry that He had spoken to us like 30 years ago. We purchased the name “____________ Ministries”. We have an e-mail, a domain name, and recently, we received an EIN number. Then I felt like I needed to go into prayer for directions because I was strongly feeling like “DO NOT BE 501(3)c”. I then ran across an article about 508 (C) 1 (A). And while studying a praying, I felt like that wasn’t the route either. I ran across your site accidently, or rather what I would call, a divine Godly appointment. Anyways, I really don’t know what to do next. I am not registered as anything at the moment (Ex: business, unincorporated or corporation, etc…) I felt like I needed to just email you to see if you could guide me. We feel the Lord leading us to start home meetings under “______________ Ministries” but I want to make sure we do this correctly. I have people that want to send tithes and offerings to _______________ Ministries but we have not set up any financial stuff yet due to wanting God’s direction instead of man’s direction. Could you please advise me as to what we need to do correctly, so that we don’t run into issues with the government or law. I appreciate your time. Please understand that our Ministry is not connected to the Church we are currently pastoring at. We strongly feel that the day may come that the government closes church doors and we are trying to get ahead of this by choosing a different direction that won’t hinder us from preaching the truth of the Gospel so that we may all Glorify God like we are supposed to.

Waiting patiently,
___________


I replied as follows:

Dear ____________________,

Thanks for contacting me about this matter. It is obvious that you wish to please our Lord in your work for him. This reply is motivated by love, love for our Savior. It must be succinct and to the point. The ministry has many resources on the website which more completely explain what I say in this short reply.

This ministry helps “churches” who wish to organize according to New Testament church doctrine. That necessarily requires such churches to reject establishment under any civil government law, including non-profit corporation law, unincorporated association law, charitable trust law, federal tax-exempt law (501c3 or 508c1A), etc. Church-state establishment is, simply stated, church organization by, and under the authority of, civil government as provided by a civil government law. An established church is a two-headed monster who has chosen to commit spiritual fornication.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions provide that a church can, without persecution, choose to be under Christ alone or under civil government for many purposes. For example, a church man choose to dishonor God by submitting herself to civil government law as opposed to remaining a church under the authority of Christ alone. No church anywhere, anytime, should unify with any civil government whether persecuted of not.

God, in his word, the King James Bible, makes clear that the local church is the only institution he ordained in this age of grace to do His work on earth. All ministry should be under the authority of the local church. That is his perfect will.

I understand that many times God calls someone to do a ministry, a work for him, which no church will recognize or that there is no God honoring church available in a locality. In that case, the one called to that ministry must, through no fault of his own, operate outside the authority of the local church. That is his permissive will.

In your case, the Bible answer must be that your church get right with God and take the ministry under her authority. You propose to create an alter-ego, a collateral ministry alongside your local assembly. This is unacceptable under both God’s law and man’s law for reasons which I do not have time to explain in this brief reply.

A church, in recognizing a ministry, should do more than give that ministry lip service in order to keep the member called to the ministry happy. The church should understand the ministry and agree that the ministry is doing a legitimate work for the Lord. All mature members of the church should have, at the very least, an understanding of the Bible principles supporting the ministry, and they should agree that ministry application of those principles are Biblically correct.

God bless you as you go forward according to his will. I hope this has been of help to you as you seek to glorify God.

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

Comments concerning the above from:

Pastor Neal Arthur
Home/Church: 814-72-1067
Cell 814-730-2223
Victory Baptist Church
Box 310
Clarendon, Warren County, PA 16313
status74@westpa.net
Wed, Apr 20 at 8:25 AM

Good morning brother,

I don’t know what was more frightening, the two-headed snake or the e-mail you received. She obviously doesn’t know the Scriptures about women preaching to men either. (Or doesn’t care)

An incident similar to this about Biblical ignorance came up, from someone “who should know better, but must be backslidden” is the response I got. It’s quite amazing that I find that the word “backslidden” is applied to every “Christian” who goes off the deep end.

And then as I was looking at II Thessalonians 2:3 just a couple days ago while I was thinking on all of the excuses we make for professing Christians who “fall” into sin it dawned on me, the Scripture says “…except there come a falling away first”,  the Scripture doesn’t say “except there come a BACKSLIDDING first.”

I know there is a big difference between backsliding and falling away into apostasy. The apostate was never saved. I know that we as believers want to give every “professing” Christian the benefit of the doubt, and I for one have experienced the “snakebite” more than once when I fell for “If we err, let’s err on the side of grace” instead of “No, let’s err on the side of caution” and confront this matter head on. I have found that the word “grace” is used as a weapon by modernists and liberals and applied to us fundamentalists when we want to go by the Holy Scriptures and not our feelings. Anyway, just some thoughts brother. Have a great day and God bless you.

Brother Arthur

Living Springs Baptist Church, Idaho

It has been a joy to work with Pastor David R. Hethorn as he has diligently studied and applied New Testament church doctrine before and after declaring the Living Springs Baptist Church Trust. He, as trustee of the trust, has meticulously held and managed the Lord’s property held in the Trust Estate. He has made sure not to do anything that would compromise the New Testament status of the church or the status of the Bible trust as a non-legal entity, a relationship with property only. His path as trustee has not always been convenient, but it has always been successful and correct.

He told me to feel free to announce that you may contact him. He truly enjoys talking about matters of concern to our Lord.

Pastor David R. Hethorn
Couer D Alane, County Kootania, Idaho
509-496-1381
pastor@livingspringsbc.org

The trust has established a website: livingspringsbc.org.

Click the image above to go to the website, livingspringsbc.org.

Click her to go to the Parent Page, Church Common Law Trusts: Real Life Examples with Contact Information.

Are Churches Automatically Tax Exempt?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 8, 2022

Regardless of what one has been told or believes, an honest examination of the evidence proves that churches are not automatically tax exempt. See the essay below, and other resources linked to below, for proof of this conclusion. However, “Churches that meet the requirements of § 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt [under § 508(c)(1)(A)] and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS.” This quote is from IRS publications and is the correct position. If a church does not meet the requirements of 501(c)(3) that church is not “tax exempt.”

Furthermore, according to principles in the Word of God, church tax exempt status is spiritual fornication since she has submitted herself to man’s law, become a temporal legal – as opposed to spiritual eternal only – entity,  and chosen to submit to an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ as to many church matters. A church can choice is to remain under Christ only as a eternal spiritual organism as opposed to a temporal earthy organizaion. In America, the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions protect this choice from persecution. This essay, and the other essays and articles on this website explain these matters more comprehensively.

See also:

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 8, 2022

Many Christians and churches take the position that churches who do not file Form 1023 in order to obtain federal tax exempt status are “automatically exempt.” They believe that Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) grants automatic tax exempt status to churches. Is this position correct? For emphasis, this brief essay will go directly to that one question which I have already answered in more extensive and comprehensive writings such as Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status, and  The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.

A church, because of the First Amendment, can choose either to be automatically non-taxable without any civil government control; or it can choose to be 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt organizations if … (explained below). No if can come with automatic status. Automatically means: “(with reference to a device or process) by itself with no human control.” According to that definition, churches definitely are not “automatically tax exempt.”  Both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status come with IRS rules and regulations. See, The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.  Please let me explain.

508(a),(c)(1)(A) states:

“(a) New organizations must notify Secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status

“(c) Exceptions
“(1) Mandatory exceptions Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to
“(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches….”

508(c)(1)(A) does not state that churches are “automatically exempt.” Clearly, 508(c)(1)(A) states that churches are mandatory exceptions to the requirement for for filing for Internal Revenue Code § (501)(c)(3) tax exempt status. “Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” (not other types of other organizations)  may claim tax exempt status without filing for it. To claim tax exempt status under 508(c)(1)(A) instead of submitting IRS Form 1023 for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3), a church must make clear to the public and to its members that the church is tax exempt (that givers may deduct their gifts on their income tax returns); and, like a 501(c)(3) church, give IRS Acknowledgements to givers.

Rules and regulations come with both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1(A) tax exempt status.  One cannot separate the status from attributes, rules, and regulations that go with it. The attributes, rules, and regulations of the status define the status. According to 508(c)(1)(A), a church may claim the status without filing for it. Contrary to unlearned “Christian” propaganda, churches who do so are to comply with the IRS rules and regulations that come with the status. The requirements of 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) status are given in The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.

The IRS, and correctly so, understands this simple truth. Page 3 of IRS Publication 1828 states, churches that meet the requirements of § 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” [Bold red emphasis mine]. The IRS repeats this on page 24 of IRS Publication 557, “Tax –Exempt Status for Your Organization.” Under Organizations Not Required To File Form 1023 churches are listed. The following sentence is included: “These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).” [Bold italicized emphasis added.].

By placing a church under a civil government law, either 501(c)(3) or IRC § 508(c)(1)(A), a church rejects her First Amendment non-taxable status and accepts the federal government offer for tax exempt status.  Offer and acceptance are necessary fot the agreement, the contract, to be completed. The First Amendment makes clear that a church may choose to retain religious freedom without persecution. IRS  §§ 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) give churches an alternative: giver up First Amendment status as a non-legal entity in favor of Fourteenth Amendment status as a legal entity.

Most churches who obtain either 501(c)(3)  or 508(c)(1)(A) status have already given up much of their their First Amendment protection and status by submitting themselves to state non-profit incorporation law, unincorporated association law, charitable trust law, etc. Churches who are corporations,  Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt, or legal entities of any kind have forsaken higher law by submitting to authorities other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

With 508(c)(1)(A) the government declared in law that they trusted churches and “Christians,” of all people, to understand their actions and to honor their agreements. The government made it more convenient for churches, and for no other type of organization, to obtain tax exempt status. They falsely believed that Christians and churches were bound by a higher law and could be trusted to diligently honor their word.

As mentioned above, one requirement for 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status is that the church give donors IRS Acknowledgements for tithes, offerings, and gifts. Should the IRS audit a donor who claimed a deduction for gifts to a church, the IRS will want the IRS Acknowledgment; and proof that the giver of the Acknowledgement was a church. If the church has 501(c)(3) status, the proof is on the IRS list of tax exempt churches. If the church has 508(c)(1)(A) status, the IRS may require the person claiming the exemption to prove that the gift was to a “church” even though they should have a copy of the IRS Acknowledgement for the gift.

The real reason churches file for or claim  tax exempt status is to motivate people to give, and to give more. Some Christians will not give to a church who is not on the Internal Revenue Service list. See, for an interesting study on this matter, “Churches, Politics, and the Charitable Deduction” (Ellen P. Aprill, Churches, Politics, and the Charitable Contribution Deduction, 42 B.C.L. Rev. 843 (2001).

To reject the offer of the federal government for “tax exempt” status, all a church must do is to reject all offers of state and/or federal government for combination with civil government (incorporation, charitable trust status, unincorporated association status, tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), or union with the state in any other way); refuse to give IRS Acknowledgements for tithes, offerings, and gifts; and make it known that the church is a First Amendment church solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some Christians argue that they don’t care what the government requires in order for granting them the “benefits” of tax-exempt status. They know that their authority, the IRS, probably will not catch them since they do not have the resources to monitor churches and pastors. These Christians and churches take God out of the equation. The Lord knows all and does not honor such behavior by believers and churches. He expects his children to honor their word and their agreements which they voluntarily enter into. They are dishonoring God and man, and ignorance will not excuse their misdeeds:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:1-10).

The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 17, 2022

Contents:

  1. How a church becomes tax exempt (under man-made federal law) as opposed to non-taxable (Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (“First Amendment”).
  2. An overview of the fundamental changes which result when a church is granted 501(c)(3) or claims 508(c)(1)(A) status
  3. List of rules and regulations which come with tax exempt status.

1. How a church becomes tax exempt (under man-made federal law) as opposed to non-taxable (Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution).

A First Amendment church—a church who has not applied for and been granted tax exempt status and who has not acted as a legal entity in any way so as to forfeit her status as a church under Christ alone—is non-taxable. The only way a civil government can tax is by law or edict. The First Amendment religion clause forbids  federal law taxing churches (religion) in America. The establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment, consistent with the Bible doctrine of separation of church and state, protect those churches who decide to obey God and refuse federal tax-exempt status. The First Amendment religion clause is consistent with the Bible doctrine of separation of church and state. Although 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws passed by Congress with violate the religion clause, they do not force churches to become tax exempt; rather, the give churches a choice of whether to be tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable.

Contrary to “Christian” propaganda, 508(c)(1)(A) does not state that a church is automatically tax exempt. Rather, 508(c)(1)(A) states that “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” are mandatory exceptions to the requirement for filing for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3). To mandate automatic church tax exempt status would violate the First Amendment which states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws passed by Congress which establish a religion and prevent the free exercise thereof. Because of the First Amendment, churches cannot be forced to become tax exempt.

508(c)(1)(A) churches who meet the requirements of 501(c)(3) may claim 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status. See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status for explanation and links to relevant IRS Regulations. A church can claim 508(c)(1)(A) status by open declaration which includes providing IRS Acknowledgements to donors for tithes, offerings, and gifts (according to IRS Regulations). The real purpose of tax-exempt status is to attract those who give for easy tax deduction claims and not because of their love for the Lord.

If the IRS audits a donor to a 501(c)(3) tax exempt “church,” the church will be on the IRS list and the acknowledgement from the church will verify his giving. If a church claims 508(c(1)(A) tax exempt status, the IRS may likely require the donor to prove that the donee was a church since the church is not on the IRS list. Internal Revenue Code Section 170 and IRS Regulations deal with the matter of tax exempt deductions for gifts to non-501(c(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) churches. A donor concerned about this matter may see, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities, Chapter 8, pp. 85-96, “Spurious Rationale for Corporate-501(c)(3) or 508 Status: Tax Exemption and Tax Deduction for Contributions.” Note, the law may have changed since publication of that book. Refer to IRS Code Section 170 for updates and changes in the law.

To become tax exempt (a “501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A)” church), as opposed to non-taxable (a church solely under the protection of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution) a church may apply for Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by completing IRS Form 1023 (See En[i] for more information of Form 1023) or claim “508(c)(1)(A)” tax exempt status. A church may claim 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status by declaring that tithes, offerings, and gifts are tax exempt and providing IRS acknowledgements to the donors. When the church claims 508(c)(1)(A) status, she is subject to the rules and regulations that come with 501(c)(3); she is now tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable and therefore loses much of her first Amendment protections. See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status.

Any non-tax-exempt church should inform all givers, in advance, that it is not tax exempt and that it does not give IRS acknowledgements for tithes, offerings and gifts.

 2. An overview of the fundamental changes which result when a church is granted 501(c)(3) or claims 508(c)(1)(A) status

A church who is not a legal entity of any kind has the total protection of the First Amendment: She can do things God’s way without control or persecution by any civil government, city to national.

A non-legal entity is not controlled by civil government. Of course, a tyrannical government can declare that any entity, whether legal or not, is under their control. Korea, for example, persecutes and kills any one caught speaking the name of Jesus in a positive way, possessing a Bible or Gospel tract, holding a church meeting, etc.

Legal entities are under the authority of of civil government for many purposes. As “persons” under Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes, churches have given up much of their First Amendment status. Corporations (aggregate of sole), unincorporated associations, charitable trusts, business trusts, individuals, and federal tax-exempt organizations are among the list of legal entities.

Whether or not a civil government can enforce an edict against a believer or a church who is not a legal entity depends upon the individual or church. A Christian (one who believes in, loves and follows Christ, His commandments and Word as opposed to one who merely “believes in” Christ) will obey God rather than man when obeying man’s law requires one to disobey God. American believers and churches do not have to face control and punishment by civil government for loving and honoring God and His Word, as of yet.

A church who chooses to become a legal entity places herself under the authority, wholly or partially, other than the Lord Jesus Christ. She no longer has all (or maybe, any) of her First Amendment protections. She is no longer a totally First Amendment Church. She is now, as a legal person, a Fourteenth Amendment Church. See, Corporation: A Human Being with No Soul; see also, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? for further explanation of much of what is said in this section.

A church, as a legal entity, can sue, be sued, enter into contracts, pay salaries, be charged with a crime (if she or any or her agents commit crime), hold property and insurance in the name of the church, etc. In other words, she has transformed herself into a worldly enterprise, a business. She is organized like and operates as a business, to one degree or another. She is subject to the laws and accompanying regulations of her creator(s), the state and/or federal government.

As a legal person, a church acts to one degree or another—usually to a greater degree—like a temporal, worldly, fleshly entity ruled by tradition of men and the rudiments of the world as opposed to a spiritual entity ruled by God’s Word. She has a new sovereign or sovereigns; she employs business techniques of organization, operation, and doctrines. Many have become apostate. Their goal is to find out what people want and give it to them rather that finding out what God, in His Word, wants and giving it to Him. They may honor the Lord with their tongues, but their heart is far from Him as they keep the commandments of men rather than those of God.

A church who has chosen legal entity status is subject to civil government. She has agreed that the controlling party, in the case of disputes, is the civil government; and she has agreed to follow all rules and regulations contained in the law they agreed to. A church which chooses to become a legal entity such as a corporation has agreed that the controlling party for many purposes is the court of the state of incorporation. Churches who choose to become tax exempt agree that they will follow accompanying rules and regulations.

Many incorporated churches follow none of, or only some of, the rules and procedures in the non-profit corporation law they agreed to when getting the status. Many churches openly violate some or all of the rules and regulations coming with 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(a) status because they know that the IRS does not have the resources to enforce them; by so doing, they dishonor both God (by dishonoring their legal agreement with the federal government) and man (by entering into a legal agreement which dishonors God). Believers who dishonor their agreements, their word, are not “Christians;” and by their actions, they cause men to blaspheme God.

For more information on church 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) status, see:

  1. Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption(Section VI, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed; Chapter 4 of Separation of Church and State);
  2. The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme(Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed; Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State); and
  3. Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status.

 3. List  of rules and regulations which come with tax exempt status.

Under the terms of 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) and IRS interpretation thereof, a church agrees to the rules and regulations that come with the status. The church agrees to abide by the following rules:

“1. must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,
“2. net earnings must not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
“3. no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
“4. the organization may not intervene in political activity,
“5. the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”

See, IRS Publication 1828. This and all IRS publications may be accessed at irs.gov. Just mentioning a candidate may violate proscription #4. Detailed guidelines with consequences of violation of proscription #4 given in Pub. 1828. As to proscription #5, public policy is determined by the courts. What is fundamental public policy regarding same-sex marriage? This policy has not been enforced against tax exempt churches, but that may be coming. The real issue is, does church tax exempt or legal status of any kind please God. See also, , Internal Revenue Code  508(c)(1)(A).

Rules and regulations for 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) churches are made by the legislative and executive branch, by the IRS, and by the courts. Rules one through four above are stated in 501(c)(3). Rule four was added by legislation sponsored by Lyndon Johnson. The last requirement—“may not violate fundamental public policy” was first implemented by the IRS and then upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983). See, PDF of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? pages 35-37.

501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status not only come with five government imposed rules, such status also invokes a myriad of regulations. See and read, e.g.,

The interested believer and church who love the Lord may go directly to those regulations by clicking the links above, if this is essay is opened online. Check them out for yourselves and ask yourself, “Does this status glorify and please God?”



En[i] Instructions for Form 1023. On page 2 of the December 2017 Instructions is stated: “Completed Form 1023 required for section 501(c)(3) exemption. Form 1023 is filed by organizations to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). Upon approval, we will issue a determination letter that provides written assurance about the organization’s tax-exempt status, and its qualification to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Every organization qualifying for exemption under section 501(c)(3) will also be classified as either a “public charity” or a “private foundation.”

A Bible believer may get much greater understanding of the anti-Christ agreement he is entering into by seeking and obtaining 501(c)(3) status by reading Form 1023 and the instructions as well as by reading Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) which places the church in the same position as 501(c)(3) status. See, . For more information from the IRS on Form 1023, see About Form 1023.

See, Basics of the Bible Trust Relationship and How a Church Can Nullify the Trust Relationship

For an understanding of how a church can organize and operated God’s prescribed way, as a spiritual entity under Christ only, see The CUCM Bible Trust.

Can Psychology Deal With the New Nature of the Believer?

1 John 3:4-24 deals with the two natures of the believer in action. 1 John 3:9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Commit means, in this context, “to do some act, or make some declaration, which may bind the person in honor, good faith, or consistency, to pursue a certain course of conduct, or to adhere to the tenor of that declaration.” The passage does not say, “doth not sin.” It says, “doth not commit sin.” The new nature cannot sin, but the old nature can. Dr. J. Vernon McGee thoroughly explains this matter in his studies on 1 John.

Can psychology deal with the old nature? What about all the books written and sermons preached to deal with the old nature? The following short audio of teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, in this short 3 minute 13 second audio, addresses these questions and more:

Dr. McGee on psychology and controlling the new nature.

Click here to go to the complete program (1 John 3:17-4:1) from which the above was taken.

Click here to go to links to all Dr. McGee’s Thru the Bible studies.