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My reply to pastor teaching on Matthew 16.18 and Ephesians 1.22 thereafter questioned by accountant about church non-taxable status and the First Amendment

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LETTERS AND QUESTIONS FROM PASTORS AND OTHERS ANSWERED

Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 14, 2019

CONTENTS:
1. THE PASTOR’S E-MAIL
2. MY REPLY

 1. THE PASTOR’S E-MAIL

Hello Brother Finney,

I have been preaching/teaching on Mt. 16:18 and Eph. 1:22 for the last two weeks. After the service one gentleman (who is an accountant) asked me to show him where in the First Amendment it says that churches are non-taxable.

Just checking with you if I answered him correctly. The phrase, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF….”  Would not taxing the church fall under, “…prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”?

Thanks for the 15 page article it was very helpful, also the one about Sovereignty.

And to your question, yes our church would like to be one of your “Lighthouse Churches”.

Keeping the Faith,
Brother ________________ for
________________________

 2. MY REPLY

Dear Brother ____________________,

What a blessing to hear that you are teaching these matters. By so doing, you are already a “lighthouse church.” I hope to set up some online conferences for pastors and churches who are fighting this battle for Christ’s churches. I will let you know when we get that going. Keep up the good work and let us keep in contact.

The only way a church, an individual, or a business can become taxable is for Congress to pass a law taxing them. For Congress to pass a law taxing churches is forbidden by the First Amendment. You correctly pointed out to the accountant that for Congress to tax a church would violate the First Amendment free exercise clause. It would also violate the First Amendment establishment clause because taxing churches would require a law made by Congress which would control churches, a law respecting an establishment of religion.

It does not violate the First Amendment for civil government to tax individuals and businesses. Only churches and religions have First Amendment protections. Of course, due to the 501(c)(3) and 508 laws made by Congress in 1954, churches can choose to place themselves under federal government controls by becoming tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable. First Amendment churches are non-taxable. 501(c)(3) and 508 churches are tax exempt. When a church freely applies for 501(c)(3) status or claims 508 status, that church becomes tax exempt, not non-taxable. Tax exempt status places another authority over a church other than the Lord Jesus Christ; and certain rules enforceable by the Internal Revenue Service come with that status. First Amendment non-taxable status gives churches protection from federal government intervention in any way, unless the church has chosen to become a legal entity by applying for state non-profit corporation status or has made herself a legal entity by some other action.

I believe 501(c)(3) and 508 are unconstitutional as applied to churches in that they violate the First Amendment religion clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.” 501(c)(3) or 508 status for churches respects an establishment of religion and prevents the free exercise thereof. Yet most churches, not being churches of Christ or churches under Christ, freely embrace 501(c)(3) and 508 status, thereby betraying their first love.

The accountant, like almost all attorneys, including myself until 2005, never knew the true history of the First Amendment. I had studied a Christian revisionist history of the First Amendment. The real history of the First Amendment makes very very clear that the First Amendment was meant to separate church and state and, in so doing, it was meant, among other things, to prevent the federal government from taxing churches and/or using tax money to support any religion or church.

In addition, the United States Supreme Court, although wrong about removing God from civil government matters, was right to declare that the First Amendment has erected a high and impregnable wall between church and state, a wall that was meant to keep church and the federal government completely separate:

  • “The constitutional inhibition of legislation on the subject of religion has a double aspect. On the one hand it forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship…. On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion…. The interrelation of the ‘establishment’ and ‘free exercise’ clauses [according to the United States Supreme Court] has been well summarized as follows: ‘The structure of our government has, for the preservation of civil liberty, rescued the temporal institutions from religious interference. On the other hand, it has secured religious liberty from the invasion of the civil authority.’” Donald T. Kramer, J.D. Annotation: Supreme Court Cases Involving Establishment and Freedom of Religion Clauses of Federal Constitution, 37 L. Ed. 2d 1147 § 2 citing Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 91 L. Ed. 711, 67 S. Ct. 504, 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947), reh’g denied 330 U.S. 855, 91 L. Ed. 1297, 67 S. Ct. 962. For a full discussion of Everson and the removal of God from practically all civil government affairs, see Section V of God Betrayed.

In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’” McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 210-211 (1948). Jefferson, contrary to the assertions of Christian revisionists, clearly believed in a secular state and separation of church and state.

Separation of church and state does not equate to separation of God and state. It does not mean that civil government should keep God out of civil government. God ordained civil government in order for man to have direct control over certain matters: the protection of life, liberty, and property. God desires every individual, family, civil, and church government to choose to recognize Him and to operate within the jurisdictional boundaries He set out in His Word. He also desires total separation of church and state. See Part I of God Betrayed for explanation.

I would also suggest that you refer the accountant to the Law Review Articles linked to on the following webpage: LAW REVIEW ARTICLES: 501(C)(3), 1ST AMENDMENT HISTORY, ETC.

May the Lord continue to richly bless you and and this Churches Under Christ Ministry as we go forward for His Glory.

Brother Jerald Finney

A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority


Recommended sermon which further explains this preliminary article:
Authority, the Greatest Thing in the Universe
Dr. Greg Dixon 2005.
This sermon explains the two meanings of power as used in the Bible and the importance of authority and power and correct doctrine to a church. It explains how great men of God can proceed according to some false doctrine and the consequences thereof.

Recommended: listen to this 7 min. 24 sec. excerpt from a sermon, in conjunction with this article:
A Call to Anguish


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 21, 2017


A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority

1God grieves because His people neither understand nor honor His authority and His precepts. God’s grief calls churches and believers to anguish, but few grieve, few cry, few pray, few even know that there is a call to anguish. The call started a long time ago. Authentic churches in the colonies and then the new nation, even though warned by God’s remnant, betrayed their roots and compromised the authority of God. Their betrayal passed on to future churches. The betrayal of God increased exponentially for 225 plus years to this very day. This article points out one proof of the consequences of this betrayal that should call believers and churches to anguish.

God ordained civil government and laid out its jurisdiction. God gave civil government no authority or ability to define “church.” God defines “church” in the New Testament.  God also made clear that church and state were to remain totally separate. Yet, that was never the case, except for a remnant, in either the American colonies or the states.

How far off base would civil government go in the definition of “church” as multitudes of organizations sought and continue to seek non-profit corporation and tax exempt status? Let us look at an illustration. “A New Religion Forms That Will Worship A ‘Godhead’ Based On AI” states in the introduction:

“Anthony Levandowski has already filed paperwork with the IRS for the nonprofit corporation that is going to run this new religion.  Officially, this new faith will be known as ‘Way Of The Future.’” The article goes on to explain the tenets of the “Way Of The Future,” which include a faith in science which will create a “Godhead” which will make things better and a denial of the existence of God.

Had God remained the sole authority for churches, organizations  like “Way of the Future” could have existed, but they could not have received official sanction and “benefits” from any authority, earthly or heavenly.

Religious Americans, to include many Baptists alongside obviously heretical or apostate Protestants and Catholics, gave civil government the power, the authority to define “church.” Civil government took to the task, first in issues involving state non-profit corporate status; then, later in the twentieth century, income tax exemption status.

As to federal tax exemption law, the authority has developed a process and rationale to determine whether an organization applying for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is a “church.” When determining whether an organization is a “church,” a “religious organization,” or a “religious society,” the IRS (and court, if the IRS ruling is appealed), has a 14 part criteria, which—though not all-conclusive since other factors will be considered when deemed appropriate by the IRS—is a man-made definition; a definition which is partially contrary to the Word of God. En 1 gives the IRS definition of church with link to online IRS webpage; En 2 discusses a sample IRS ruling; En 3 briefly discusses some cases which have attempted to define church and links directly to those cases.

The IRS agency makes initial determinations, but the ultimate authority is the judiciary. Regardless of the ruling of the IRS, the losing party can appeal to the appropriate court asking for reversal and laying out their arguments for their position. Ultimately, the case could go all the way to man’s highest authority on issues such as this, the United States Supreme Court.

What is wrong with this? God made clear that Christ in heaven is to be the only authority (power or head) “over all things to” His churches. Put another way, a church, the spiritual body whose feet walk and work on earth, is to be connected to only one spiritual head, Christ in heaven. This connection was made after Christ ascended to heaven and filled the members of the church with the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost (Ac. 2.4). God the Son, before his ascension, walked with his disciples and apostles. God the Holy Ghost now indwelt them, thereby giving them a direct spiritual link to their God-ordained Head who was now in heaven.

  • “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.19-23).
  • “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-23).
  • “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” (Col. 1.18).

From the above verses, and many more that could be quoted, one sees that God desires his churches to be spiritual entities or bodies (See also, e.g., Ep. 4 and the whole book of Ep., Col., and 1 Co. 12 for more on churches as spiritual bodies) connected to their only God ordained Head, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, while walking and working for the glory of God as heavenly, spiritual, eternal entities only here on the earth. Churches are to be “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” not built together as corporate 501(c)(3) or 508 organizations according to man’s earthly, temporal, legal laws.

Most of the credit for the door being opened to Godless “religions” to gain the ability to be labeled as “churches” lies with not only with Protestants and Catholics but also with the progenitors of those martyrs who gave their lives standing for New Testament principles, one of which is separation of church and state. Once they had an opportunity to do so, the majority of even authentic Baptist believers and churches who honored and even died standing for the principle of separation of church and state while persecuted betrayed their head, their authority, the Lord Jesus Christ. They incorporated, and with the advent of tax exempt law, they applied for tax exempt status; along with many new breeds of “churches.”

All incorporated and/or 501(c)(3) and 508 “churches” operate under the authority of both the state government of incorporaton and the federal government, even those who also have or once had some connection to the Lord Jesus Christ. The latter sometimes operate partially under Jesus Christ and partially under civil government; sometimes solely under the authority of civil government.

New Testament churches who obtain state non-profit corporation status and get federal tax exempt status partially or totally lose the power of God.  They are no longer spiritual entities only under the authority, headship or power of Christ alone. They have chosen to become earthly legal entities partially or totally connected to earthly heads, the government of the state of incorporation and the federal government. Without the power of God, they are ill-equipped to do their work: the perfecting of the saints (inside the assembly), the work of the ministry, the edification of the body of Christ, going into all the world and preaching the gospel to every creature (Mk. 16.15), and performance of other duties outside the assembly. They no longer resemble the spiritual bodies described in the New Testament:

  • “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ep. 4.11-16)[Bold emphasis mine]
  • See also, e.g., 1 Co. 12.

Aditionally, by mixing church and state, churches opened the door to the untenable situation where an earthly temporal civil government which has neither the authority nor the ability to understand spiritual matters is granted power over the church and put in charge of defining “church,” “religious organization,” “religious society,” etc. This mixing of the holy with the unholy has resulted in the inevitable consequences we see shaping up as a result of civil government definition of “church.”

2In conclusion, should the IRS and/or the court decide that “Way Of The Future” is a qualified tax exempt religious organization or church, true churches will coexist as earthly legal entities alongside not only already existing corporate 501(c)(3) organizations such as Planned Parenthood, the Church of Wicca, and the Church of Satan, but also another Godless and God-defying organization which directly challenges God and His existence. Because they do not remain under their God-ordained authority (power or headship)—the Lord Jesus Christ—they will possess either no power of God or, at best, a watered down power of God. They betray their Lord, they lose God’s power, God grieves, and they could care less!

Churches have betrayed God, lost the power of God, and caused our Lord who loved the church and gave himself for it to grieve by incorporating and getting 501(c)(3) status.  Where is the anguish?

Listen to the powerful clip from sermon A Call to Anguish.

[For complete studies which cover all issues (such as the Ro. 13 issue, the incorporation issue, etc.) see the resources linked to in En 4.]

Endnotes

En 1 Churches Defined

“The term church is found, but not specifically defined, in the Internal Revenue Code. With the exception of the special rules for church audits, the use of the term church also includes conventions and associations of churches as well as integrated auxiliaries of a church.

“Certain characteristics are generally attributed to churches.  These attributes of a church have been developed by the IRS and by court decisions.  They include:

  • Distinct legal existence
  • Recognized creed and form of worship
  • Definite and distinct ecclesiastical government
  • Formal code of doctrine and discipline
  • Distinct religious history
  • Membership not associated with any other church or denomination
  • Organization of ordained ministers
  • Ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed courses of study
  • Literature of its own
  • Established places of worship
  • Regular congregations
  • Regular religious services
  • Sunday schools for the religious instruction of the young
  • Schools for the preparation of its members

“The IRS generally uses a combination of these characteristics, together with other facts and circumstances, to determine whether an organization is considered a church for federal tax purposes.

“Source:  Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations.”

See DEFINING “CHURCH” – THE CONCEPT OF A CONGREGATION by Robert Louthian and Thomas Miller for a discussion of court application of the above criteria.

En 2: Internal Revenue Service Private Letter Ruling 8833001, 1988 PRL LEXIS 1594:

Just one illustration of what can happen when the civil government determines if an organization is a church, when IRS officials determine what constitutes a church within the meaning of IRC § 170(b)(1)(A)(i), follows. The threshold question in determining whether an organization is a church described in § 170(b)(1)(A)(i) is whether the organization qualifies as a religious organization described in § 501(c)(3). Using the 14-part IRS test to determine whether a religious organization was a church, IRS officials held that an organization with the following purpose as stated in its articles of incorporation and bylaws was a church: “[T]o establish an ecumenical church to help people learn to pay attention, wake up, and discover what both Christ and Buddha referred to as one’s true self.

The ruling stated:

“The organization was established to develop an ecumenical form of religious practice, place greater significance on the modes of religious expression that would unify western and eastern modes of religious practice, place greater significance on the mystical or interior experience of religious truth than that of most western church denominations, and be more spiritually satisfying to members than other existing church organizations.”

In other words, the IRS determined that an organization whose purpose was directly contrary to the principles for a church laid down by the Lord in His Word was a church.

Note. The above ruling is available on LEXIS, a legal website which charges for its services. The website can be assessed in some public law libraries and law firm libraries.

En 3: A small sampling of cases which have attempted to define church and links directly to those cases. These cases cite many other cases which deal with the definition of “church”:

PARSHALL CHRISTIAN ORDER v. BOARD OF REVIEW, COUNTY OF MARION, 315 N.W.2d 798 (1982)(Supreme Court of Iowa)

A family organized as an incorporated 501(c)(3) “religious society” and claimed property tax exemption. “People may not transform their families into religious organizations and thereby obtain exemption for property over which their dominion and use remain unaffected. Granting tax exempt status to PCO would exalt form over substance and violate the rule of construction that exemption statutes are strictly construed.” The case cites and discusses various cases from other jurisdictions.

Ideal Life Church of Lake Elmo v. Washington County, 1981, 304 N.W.2d 308 (Supreme Court of Minnesota)

Purported religious organization which was organized and operated primarily for motive of tax avoidance by private individuals in control of 501(c)(3) corporation, had no formally trained or ordained ministry, had no sacraments, rituals, education classes or literature of its own, had no liturgy other than simple meetings resembling mere social gatherings or discussion groups and did not require a belief in any supreme being or other being, and whose doctrine and beliefs were intentionally vague and nonbinding upon its members and whose members freely continued to practice other religions, was not a “church” as such term was used in state’s tax exemption laws.

In re Collection of Delinquent Real Property Taxes, State of MN v. American Fundamentalist Church, 1995, 530 N.W.2d 200 (S.Ct. Minnesota) rehearing denied

Threshold question in determining whether real property is “church” entitled to tax exemption is whether entity claiming exemption is “church” within meaning of statute…. The organization in this case was an incorporated 501(c)(3) church. Test for determining whether organization is “church” entitled to tax exemption is subjective one, focusing on sincerity of belief and taking into account evidence on objective issues. … Principal motivation for organizing religious corporation was tax minimization and therefore, organization was not “church” and, therefore was not entitled to real property tax exemption in view of evidence that most of financial contributions to organization came from individual founder, that most of founder’s income came from taxpayer, that founder was primary beneficiary of organization’s financial actions, and that founder and his wife, who was co-founder, dominated meetings of organization’s board of trustees.

FELLOWSHIP OF HUMANITY (a Nonprofit Corporation) v. COUNTY OF ALAMEDA, 153 Cal.App.2d 673 (California Court of Appeals. First Dist., Div. One1957)

The precise question involved in the instant case–whether the reverence of a deity is a prerequisite to the receiving of a tax exemption for church property. A humanist organization organized as a nonprofit corporation under the laws of California, Fellowship of Humanity, applied for property tax exemption on the ground that the property was used “solely and exclusively for religious worship….” The fundamental question–is a belief in God or gods essential to “religious worship,” as those terms are used in the state Constitution? The answer of the court: “No.”

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992

The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision. The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption.

En 4 For further study for the interested believer:

·  Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses

·  The Biblical Doctrine of Government

·  The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

·  The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State

·  The History of the Religious Freedom in America

·  God Betrayed/Union of Church and State in America (covers church incorporation and 501c3 and 508 status, among other things)

·  Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?

· The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder: Christian Revisionists on Trial

Confirmation Bias in the Courtroom, in the Media, and in the Churches

64

Jerald Finney © March 23, 2014

This brief article will look at the human trait of “confirmation bias,” the main cause for the evil in America and in the churches in America. First, the article explains the term; then it touches on its significance in the courtroom, in the news media, and in churches. Finally, the article speaks of those believers who overcome their “confirmation bias” tendencies to one degree or another.

Anyone who is politically, economically, socially, and/or spiritually active and alert in American society will learn that many interpret all facts to confirm to what they already believe. I began to learn about this tendency in high school when I saw the mainstream media selectively quoting Republican candidate Barry Goldwater in their attempt to assure his defeat. My education on this matter continued, and by the time I entered law school in 1990, I understood the bias and employed that knowledge in jury trials, including my first jury trial. Psychologists call this prejudice “confirmation bias,” a term to which I was recently introduced at a Robert R. Swafford seminar. Mr. Swafford, an attorney and jury selection expert, founded “Strike for Cause Jury Consultants,” and he teaches other lawyers how to get rid of those on the jury panel in a given case who will see only the punches made by the opposing side which support the juror’s preconceived prejudices. A trial lawyer wants jurors who will only see his punches. Any truly good lawyer knows that he does not want a “fair and impartial jury;” indeed, a fair and impartial jury is something which is unattainable because of, among other things, confirmation bias.

When a juror has a confirmation bias contrary to that which a lawyer desires, the lawyer must realize that he is not going to change that bias by education or persuasion, especially in the short amount of time he has to deal with a panel of many potential jurors. He must be able to spot undesirable jurors and eliminate them for cause in a very short frame. Why? Because giving such persons more facts does no good. Giving them more facts does not change their mind, but gets them more entrenched since it challenges their world view. So trying to disrupt someone’s world view is not going to help. What one believes to be “truth” is one’s reality, so one acts exactly as he thinks the world is.

lawyerArguingToJurySo how does the lawyer get rid of undesirable jurors? First, he must identify the hot-button issues (issues that create an emotional response). Many jurors do not make up their mind rationally. They make up their mind based upon emotion, then go back and nonsensically justify their verdict. Second, ask questions which elicit biased responses into the record so that a challenge for cause (a challenge presented to the judge which unquestionably shows a bias of a juror which will cause the juror to decide the case on something other than the facts as applied to the law). That way, in case of a negative verdict, if other procedural requirements are met which support a challenge for cause, a judge’s error in admitting the unqualified juror can be presented on appeal as a basis for a new trial.

5Confirmation bias occurs not only in the courtroom. Every news reporter has confirmation bias to one degree or another. The bias of liberal media is so obvious to this writer that he simply has not consumed news from some sources for many years; for example, MSNBC, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, The Austin American Statesman and most other newspapers, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine, etc. He no longer wastes his time listening to some “conservative” sources: Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glen Beck and some others. He had enough information to know not to listen to Bill O’Reilly, Howard Stern (of course!), and others, and he has never listened to them. Certainly, one can get some facts (along with a lot of inaccuracies) from those sources, but the facts are selected, slanted, denied, and lied about, all with the goal of supporting the bias of the source.

Sadly, the author has discovered that confirmation bias is also rampant among most pastors and other members of churches with whom he has dealt. Usually, the pastor is able, because of his position, to transfer his bias to the church members; but influential church members (most significantly those with money) sometimes coerce the pastor to accept their bias. That this occurs in churches is tragic because, of all places in the world, the head of the church, Jesus Christ, makes clear in His word that truth is of utmost importance for believers. Only the knowledge of the truth will make us free (John 8.32; all Bible verses referred to are from the King James Bible). God’s word is truth (John 17.17, Colossians 1.5, 1 Thessalonians 2.13). God desires that the believer be guided by the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom gained from the truths found in his Word (2 Peter 1.1-14; Hosea 4; for more on this go to the following link: After Salvation Page of “Separation of Church and State Law” blog).

8One area of church matters which almost all “fundamental Baptist pastors” have a severe confirmation bias is in the area of church organization. Their religion has trained them to simply accept the tradition of their church affiliation that local churches should become a legal entity such as an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization. The false reasons given for church incorporation are thoroughly analyzed in the Separation of Church and State/ God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? and in Section VI of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Click here to go to ordering information, free PDF’s and online versions of all books by Jerald Finney).

Truth teaches that a church grieves the Lord when they become any type of legal entity and when they get the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status. The writings of this author prove that a principle in the Bible is separation of church and state and that church legal entity status (incorporation, unincorporated association status, charitable trust status, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status, etc.) violate that principle and grieve the Lord. However, many born again elders-to include pastors-and other believers and “Christian” lawyers are guided by another “truth,” a truth advanced by their adversary, which is kinder (they believe) to their earthly security and well-being. As a result, even when such a church member will address the issue of incorporation and 501(c)(3) status for a church, he employs all the anti-biblical, anti-truthful, and anti-factual techniques and arguments he can muster up in order to justify his preconceived position.

A good example of confirmation bias by a Baptist education leader, the Executive Vice-President of Landmark Baptist College, is given in the article “Spurious rationale for church corporate-501c3 status: One’s convictions.” That article analyzes the simplistic and totally false reasoning of  Dr. Charles Brown, the president of a Baptist College, someone from whom one would expect at least a semblance of scholarship on the issue. “Dr.” Brown’s shallow philosophy exemplifies that of many Baptists who justify a tradition of their religion as they speak according to their confirmation bias.

But thankfully, there is always a remnant. Elijah learned this. Elijah complained, “I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away” (1 Kings 19:10). God replied, “Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him” (1 Kings 19:18; for more on the remnant go to “Topical Index” and scroll down to “Remnant.”).

During the captivities of Israel, the remnant appears in Jews like Ezekiel, Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Esther, and Mordecai. At the end of the 70 years of Babylonian captivity it was the remnant which returned under Ezra and Nehemiah. At the first advent of our Lord, John the Baptist, Simeon, and Anna who “spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Luke 2.38) were among the remnant. During the church-age the remnant is composed of believing Jews and Gentiles. Many of these have, do, and will undergo martyrdom. Many of the Psalms express, prophetically, the joys and sorrows of the tribulation remnant.

God always calls men who will be true to him and who will preach the truth. Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were prophets to the restored remnant in Israel after the exile. Likewise, many men of God have taken up the cause of preaching the truth in the church age; those include the apostles, many of the early church members and preachers, and martyrs and true believers since the beginning of the New Testament churches (See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus and The Trail of Blood Continues).

1The remnant will stand for and suffer for truth. “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God” (Zechariah 12.8-9). The Lord of the remnant is God, not the state, not the federal government, not their wallets or bank accounts, not their businesses, not any other person or thing.

You see, the remnant has no confirmation bias. The remnant responds to and acts on truth. When truth is revealed to him through, first and foremost, Holy Spirit led Bible study – word by word study beginning in “Genesis” and progressing through “Revelation” having cast aside his “theology (e.g. Calvinism) and simply believing what is said, in immediate and overall Bible context; second, commentaries and other written teachings; and third, sermons and verbal other Bible teaching. When a true believer  who is standing on the truths of the Word of God becomes discouraged when scorned and even persecuted by the religious crowd, he has the promises of God to comfort and console him. “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9. 1 Thessalonians 2.13 and the whole of 1 Corinthians 2 is included in  the Endnote.)

Endnote:

Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe”.

1 Corinthians 2: “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:  That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.  Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.”

Spurious Rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deduction for contributions OR Tax Reasons Given for Church Corporate/501(c)(3) Status: A Biblical and Legal Analysis


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application;  Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?


Contents:

Preface
I. Introduction
II. Tax reasons for which churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption
III. The deductibility of gifts to New Testament churches
IV. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status: the convenience offered state 501(c)(3) church members
V. Conclusion
Note

Preface

This is a teaching and helps ministry motivated by love: love for our Lord first, and love for others second. I can find no more important subject than the love relationship between Christ and His children and Christ and His churches. Since I am convinced that this is a God-called ministry, I conduct this ministry at my own expense. I do not wish to dishonor my Lord by seeking worldly gain or riches through this ministry or by teaching heresy. Since I am not paid, nor do I seek to be paid for my work in this ministry, I will be convinced only by solid biblical reasoning. In other words, no one can buy me since my Lord, and my Lord only, has paid it all. My highest allegiance is to Him.

If you can disprove what I am teaching, you have an obligation—to God first, and to your brother in Christ second—to correct me. I will not accept conclusory statements backed up by nothing. I will only accept Holy Spirit guided insights based upon biblical principles and the application of legal and historical facts to those principles. If you prove me wrong, I have an obligation to repent, ask your forgiveness, and correct my teachings. If what I am saying is true, you have an obligation to God to conform your actions to God’s principles, including, if need be, repenting and reorganizing your church according to the principles of God.

I. Introduction

Today, the most common reasons given by churches for incorporating and seeking 501(c)(3) status are (1) to obey every ordinance of man (2) limited liability; (3) to allow a church to hold property; (4) tax reasons and convenience—it is easier to get a tax deduction for tithes and offerings given to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization than for tithes and offerings given to a New Testament church; (5) one’s convictions; and (6) winning souls is  more important than loving God; if a church is incorporated, don’t cause problems. Just continue winning souls because winning souls is more important than anything else, including loving God.

This article will deal with the fourth false reason, tax reasons. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses When a pastor is asked why his church is incorporated, he will often quickly answer: “Because of Romans 13 [Romans 13:1-2 “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Or “We are to obey every ordinance of man.” He may also rely on some other verses. All these verses are examined in this online booklet which is also in online PDF form on this website. Not only that, no law requires a church to get incorporated or apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Instead, the highest law in America protects the right of churches to choose to remain free from corporate and 501(c)(3) or 508 status. See, e.g., First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) 
  2. Limited liability (corporate status actually increases the liability of church members) (Section VI, Chapter  of God Betrayed; Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State).
  3. Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State)
  4. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deductions for contributions OR Tax reasons given for church corporate 501(c)(3) status: a biblical and legal analysis (Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed; Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State).
  5. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: one’s convictions (Not included in God Betrayed or Separation of Church and State)
  6. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: winning souls is more important than loving God/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls

This article will deal with the third and fourth reasons listed above: civil government recognition of tax exempt status assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits (For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible); and convenience. “Church Incorporation Increases Liability of Church Members” looks at the first reason, limited liability. “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status” addresses the second reason, to hold property.” In addition, audio teaching on these issues are available on this website (see the categories at left); and Jerald Finney has written on these issues in (See God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and/or Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? and other books by Jerald Finney for a thorough analysis of these matters. Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.  These books and many other resources are available on the “Books” page of  the “Church and State Law” website.)

The author judges, as instructed by Scripture, all spiritual matters which he examines by the Word of God (1 Co. 2). After all, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Ti. 3.16-17; see also, e.g. 2 Pe. 1.19-21). The Bible is therefore written by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit guides the born again believer who meditates upon God’s Word in conjunction with reality, historical fact, and law concerning a given subject into truth concerning the matter which he is examining (See, e.g., Jn. 16.13; 1 Jn. 4.6; 2 Ti. 2.15-26). Only when a believer, a family, a church, and a nation do this will they escape the “snare of the devil who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.15-26). Sadly, many individuals (including pastors), families, and churches who profess to be Bible believers have been deceived as to biblical principle, historical fact, and law concerning the preeminent issue of separation of church and state. Many churches who proclaim that they preach the Word of God have been mislead about historical fact, law, and biblical principle concerning this issue.

God chose every Christian to be a soldier (2 Ti. 2.4). He wants us to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Ti. 2.3). God told us, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Ti. 4). We are further told to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh (Ga. 5). Our weapons are to be spiritual only (Ep. 6.10-18). Only when we fight with the spiritual armor as specified by God may we “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ep. 6.11). This is because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wichedness in highplaces” (Ep. 6.12).

And yet most Christians, including pastors, and churches walk in the flesh in at least one way. They combine the church with the state by incorporating and getting Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) status for earthly or fleshly reasons.

The author has fully examined the biblical principles as well as the application of those principles to the law of church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status in audio teachings, books, and articles. To fully understand these matters requires study, something which most “Christians” are unwilling to do. Some are willfully ignorant in that they just do not want to face truth. Others may be lazy, and some just don’t have the time. Pastors, evangelists, and missionaries have no good excuse. They are looked up to by other Christians for biblical guidance and leadership. They hold a high position of trust under our Lord.

II. Tax reasons for which churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption

As the author has shown in his articles, audio teachings, and books, according to IRC § 508, churches are an exception to the 501(c)(3) filing requirement (See, e.g., “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself;” “An Abridged History of the First Amendment,” etc.). Churches which do not file for exempt status under 501(c)(3) are non-taxable. Other types of religious organizations are not so: “Unlike churches, religious organizations that wish to be tax exempt generally must apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status unless their gross receipts do not normally exceed $5,000 annually” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 3): this link may be slow to download. Internal Revenue Service publications are not the law, just a comment on the law.).

New Testament churches under God are non-taxable. 501(c)(3) religious organizations under civil government are tax exempt. IRC § 508 (the codification of Public Law 91-172 ratified in 1969) provides in relevant part:

Ҥ 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations.
“(a) New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
“(c) Exceptions. [Emphasis mine.]
“(1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—
“(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches.” (26 U.S.C. § 508 (2007)) [Emphasis mine.]
Note. A church applies for 501(c)(3) recognition by filling out and filing IRS Form 1023.

§ 508(a),(c) says churches are excepted from obtaining § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. In other words, churches are non-taxable; and, therefore, churches are an exception to the civil government requirement that certain organizations file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Thus, even the federal government recognizes that a New Testament church is non-taxable.

If a church does not apply for exempt status, and if it is organized as a New Testament church, according to both God’s law (the hightest law) as laid out in the Bible and the First Amendment which agrees with the biblical principle of separation of church and state, the church is non-taxable. A church is better advised to claim First Amendment protection as opposed to  § 508(a),(c) status. If so, a church should not give acknowledgements for tithes and offerings. In a New Testament church, tithes and offerings are given by church members to God, not to the church. In effect, the church does the giving and the recipient is God. This does not mean the church member may not claim deductions for his tithes and offerings. contact attorney Jerald Finney for more on this matter.

If a church successfully applies for exempt status (and maybe if the church claims exempt status under § 508(a),(c)), the government is granted some jurisdiction over the church since the civil government now declares and grants an exemption.

Why then do churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption? The IRS gives the answer which pastors and Christians already know: “Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because such recognition assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits. For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 3).

Many Christians who do not love the Lord and who have not studied this matter are fearful and want the assurance of civil government that their tithes and offerings will be tax-deductible. They do not realize that the First Amendment already gives them the assurance that their tithes and offerings will be tax-deductible (one day they may have to fight this issue out in court, but, as of now, the author knows of no non-501(c)(3) church member who has not been allowed the deduction after showing the IRS that the deduction claimed is for tithes and offerings to a church). What is one’s motive for giving: the glory of God or a tax deduction from the civil government?

As will be shown below, many church members also want the convenience given the state church (a church which is a legal entity such as a corporation, corporation sole, charitable trust, unincorporated association, and maybe also a 501(c)(3) religious organization) by the IRS in making their tax deductions for tithes and offerings . Many give tithes and/or offerings because they get a deduction. Some use earthly or fleshly reasoning, displease our Lord, and excuse themselves by saying that they can give more if they get the deduction, as if God could not and would not make up the difference. God does not want our money, He wants our love. If we love Him and our neighbor, all that we have will be His, and our only regret will be that we do not give more, regardless of earthly rules (See “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls” for a biblical study of the love relationship between Christ and His churches).

III. The deductibility of gifts to New Testament churches 

Will the IRS disallow a tax deduction for gifts to a New Testament church (a church which is not a legal entity such as an incorporation, unincorporated association, charitable trust, or corporation sole and which does not have 501(c)(3) status)? The IRS Code provides:

“§ 170.  Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts….
“(a) Allowance of deduction.
“(1) General rule. There shall be allowed as a deduction any charitable contribution (as defined in subsection (c)) payment of which is made within the taxable year. A charitable contribution shall be allowable as a deduction only if verified under regulations prescribed by the Secretary. [Emphasis mine.] …
“(c) Charitable contribution defined. For purposes of this section, the term ‘charitable contribution’ means a contribution or gift to or for the use of— …
“(2) A corporation, trust, or community chest, fund, or foundation–
“(A) created or organized in the United States or in any possession thereof, or under the law of the United States, any State, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States;
“(B) organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals;’
“(C) no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual; and
“(D) which is not disqualified for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) [26 USCS § 501(c)(3)] by reason of attempting to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office” (26 U.S.C. § 170).

The author has found only one case, Morey v. Riddell, 205 F. Supp. 918 (S.D. Cal. 1962), which addresses the issue of deductions for members of a New Testament church. That case held that § 170 applies to what appears from the record to have been, at least for the most part, a New Testament church. The government argued that contributions did not qualify as deductions. The Court held for the church on all points. The government’s arguments and the court’s holdings in Morey follow:

   “(1) The government argued that the church was not in fact an ‘organized association as contemplated by the statute (no distinctive identifying name, no written charter, constitution, bylaws, or operational guide other than the Holy Bible; it had no permanent headquarters, it did not maintain comprehensive records, and its funds were not held in a bank account designated as a church account.)
Held. The members of the church regard themselves simply as members of the body of Christ (as following the teachings of Christ in the NT). They have no denominational name, no written organizational guide supplementary to the NT because they believe to do so would be to add an arbitrary gloss to biblical precepts, thus obscuring the word of God. Yet, in adherence to this philosophy, they have bound themselves together in an organized association. Many of them have worshipped together for years in furtherance of the purposes of the church.  They hold regular public meetings in homes and rented quarters for Bible study, worship and evangelism. They assemble together in ‘camp meetings’. As an association, they sponsor radio broadcasts and print and distribute Bible literature.  They recognize specific individuals as ministers and as church officers, from whom they accept guidance.  Through the years their ministers have regularly performed marriage ceremonies accepted as valid by civil authorities.  Thus, while the church lacks some of the common indicia of organization, it plainly is an organized association of persons dedicated to religious purposes.
(2) The government argued that the church was not organized in the U.S. as required by statute.
Held. The basis for this contention is certain testimony that the church had its beginnings in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. It is perfectly obvious that what was meant by this testimony was that the Christian Church in the all-inclusive sense began in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. There is no doubt that the association constituting the church for whose use the contributions were made was organized in the United States.
(3) the government argued that the church does not qualify as a beneficiary for deductible contributions because no showing has been made that in the event of its dissolution its assets would by operation of law be distributed solely for religious purposes.
Held. This suggestion is prompted by [certain sections of the Income Tax Regulations and the C.F.R. that establish] that upon dissolution its assets must be distributable solely for an exempt purpose, either by terms of its articles of by operation of law. This regulation has no governing force in respect to the determination of the deductibility of plaintiffs’ contributions for two reasons. It had not yet been promulgated at the time the contributions were made and tax returns filed…. The regulation … is obviously intended as a safeguard against the possibility that funds accumulated by an organization by reason of its tax-exempt status might, in the event of its dissolution, be used for purposes other that those to which it was dedicated…. [See case for important part of the analysis.] It is evident that the contributions made by plaintiffs have long since been spent in furtherance of the religious purposes of the church, and that there is no possibility of their application to other uses.
(4) The government argued that the contributions were made by checks payable to the order of four of the church’s ministers.
Held. The government cites several cases in which bequests inured to the benefit of the order. These cases are factually distinguishable because in each case the Court found that the testator intended to make the bequest to the named individual. In the present case, it is clear from the evidence that plaintiffs did not intend to make contributions to ministers, individually, but placed the funds in their hands, as agents, for the use of the church.
 “(5) The government argued that the plaintiff’s contributions were not deductible because they inured to the benefit of individuals (the church’s ministers).
Held. The individuals benefited were the church’s recognized ministers, who employed a portion of the contributions given for the use of the church to pay their living expenses.  Such use of the contributions does not constitute a departure from the statutory requirement that no part of the net profits of the organization shall inure to the benefit of any individual, for the sums expended to meet the living expenses of the ministers were no part of the net profits of the church. They were monies expended to meet legitimate expenses of the church in implementing its religious purposes. These expenses were of the same character as the salaries paid by any religious or charitable organization to its staff. The evidence was clear that the ministers devoted the major portion of their time to work of the church and that the amount of church funds used to pay their modest living expenses was small in comparison to the extent of their services.”

The IRS agrees that contributions to a non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) church are deductible: “You can deduct contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. To become a qualified organization, most organizations, other than churches and governments, as described below, must apply to the IRS…. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or you can check IRS Publication 78 which lists most qualified organizations. You may find Publication 78 in your local library’s reference section. Or you can find it on the internet athttp://www.irs.gov. You can also call the IRS to find out if an organization is qualified. Call  1-877-829-5500…” (IRS Publication 526 (2009)). [Bold emphasis mine.]

IRS Publication 778 also reflects the provisions of IRC § 508IRS Publication 778 states: “Publication 78 is based on information received in applications seeking recognition of exemption under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, conventions or associations of churches, and public charities whose annual gross receipts are normally not more than $5,000 may be treated as tax-exempt without filing an application. Also, many churches are included in group exemptions (see below)  Thus, they may not be listed in Publication 78.”

 IRS Publication 526 and IRS Publication 778 comply with the law, IRC § 508, which is quoted in relevant part above.

IV. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status:
the convenience offered state 501(c)(3) church members

However, the above does not tell the whole story. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status is that IRS regulations make it more difficult for members to receive tax deductions for tithes and offerings to a New Testament church than to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization. Those regulations are unconstitutional in that they prefer members of corporate-501(c)(3) churches over First Amendment churches (churches who choose to retain their First Amendment and New Testament status). In other words, those regulations encourage carnal and uninformed believers to join churches organized under secular, as opposed to biblical, law.

“A donor cannot claim a tax deduction for any single contribution of $250 or more unless the donor obtains a contemporaneous, written acknowledgment of the contribution from the recipient church or religious organization. A church or religious organization that does not acknowledge a contribution incurs no penalty; but without a written acknowledgment, the donor cannot claim a tax deduction” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 24).

To receive a deduction, one must have records to prove his contributions. For cash contributions (includes cash, check, electronic funds transfer, debit card, credit card, or payroll deduction) less than $250, he must keep one of the following:

“1. A cancelled check, or a legible and readable account statement that shows:
“a. If payment was by check—the check number, amount, date posted, and to whom paid,
“b. if payment was by electronic funds transfer—the amount, date posted, and to whom paid, or
“c. if payment was charged to a credit card—the amount, transaction date, and to whom paid.
“2. A receipt (or a letter or other written communication) from the charitable organization showing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
“3. The payroll deduction records described next. … (IRS Publication 526 (2009)). See pp. 18-19 for rules for payroll deductions, contributions of $250.00 or more, and for noncash contributions.).

For contributions of more than $250, one must keep one of the following:

“You can claim a deduction for a contribution of $250 or more only if you have an acknowledgement of your contribution from the qualified organization or certain payroll deduction records.
“If you claim more than one contribution of $250 or more, you must have either a separate acknowledgement for each or one acknowledgement that shows your total contributions and the date of each contribution and shows your total contributions.” (Ibid.).

“Acknowledgement. The acknowledgement must meet these tests:

“1. It must be written.
“2. It must include:
“a. The amount of cash you contributed.
“b. Whether the qualified organization gave you any goods or services as a result of your contribution (other than certain taken items and membership benefits), and
“c. A description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services described in (b) other than intangible religious benefits, and
“d. A statement that the only benefit you received was an intangible religious benefit, if that was the case. The acknowledgment does not need to describe or estimate the value of an intangible religious benefit. An intangible religious benefit is a benefit that generally is not sold in commercial transactions outside a donative (gift) context. An example is admission to a religious ceremony.
“3. You must get it on or before the earlier of:
“a. The date you file your return for the year you make the contribution, or
“b. The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.”

 “If the acknowledgment does not show the date of the contribution, you must also have a bank record or receipt, as described earlier, that does show the date of the contribution. If the acknowledgment does show the date of the contribution and meets the other tests just described, you do not need any other records” (Ibid.).

“Payroll deductions. If you make a contribution by payroll deduction, you do not need an acknowledgement from the qualified organization. But if your employer deducted $250 or more from a single paycheck, you must keep:

“1. A pay stub, Form W-2, or other document furnished by your employer that date and amount of the contribution, and
“2. A pledge card or other document prepared by or for the qualified organization that shows the name of the organization.

“If your employer withheld $250 or more from a single paycheck, see Contributions of $250 or More, next.” (Ibid.).

Also, according to the IRS, a church may assist the IRS and issue written statements for gifts of $250 or more given the church, which will be honored by the IRS if such receipts contain the following information:

“the name of the church or religious organization; date of contribution; amount of any cash contribution, and description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions; statement that no goods or services were provided by the church religious organization in return for the contribution; statement that goods or services that a church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, or description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services other than intangible religious benefits that the church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution.
“The church or religious organization may either provide separate acknowledgments for each single contribution of $250 or more or one acknowledgment to substantiate several single contributions of $250 or more. Separate contributions are not aggregated for purposes of measuring the $250 threshold” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 24).

A pastor/trustee of a New Testament church holds property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ (See “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property”). Thus, the pastor of a New Testament church, not the church herself, may keep records if he so desires. However, since all monies given are used for legitimate purposes, there are no profits. As to membership records, only those who have been born again are members of a church and only God knows who has been saved and adds to the church. The Bible contains no example of our Lord or the church keeping financial records. Judas stole from the money bag he carried” (See John 12.6). No apostle made an issue of it. Christ knew about it, but did not rebuke him in any way or turn Judas in to the civil authority. No instructions for a church to keep financial records can be found in the New Testament.

IRS regulations require that: “All tax-exempt organizations, including churches and religious organizations (regardless of whether tax-exempt status has been officially recognized by the IRS), are required to maintain books of accounting and other records necessary to justify their claim for exemption in the event of an audit” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 21).

A New Testament church is not an earthly entity or organization. Therefore, she has no earthly matter to keep records of. Keeping records would require a church to behave somewhat like a business and keep records of tithes and offerings, thereby destroying her status as a spiritual entity. Again, the pastor/trustee of a New Testament church may keep such records if he so desires. A pastor/trustee is not the church. He is just holding property and/or funds in trust for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, an awesome responsibility under the Lord.

In addition, “charitable contribution” under IRC § 170 quoted supra, means “a contribution or gift to or for the use of … a corporation, trust, or community chest, fund, or foundation … organized and operated exclusively for religious [or] charitable … purposes … which is not disqualified for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) [26 USCS § 501(c)(3)] by reason of attempting to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” A New Testament church is not any of the organizations named in IRC § 170 and cannot accept limitations on her spiritual responsibilities. Remember, a New Testament church retains all her protections under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as under the state constitution and statutes of the state wherein she meets.

The author believes that a New Testament church cannot have employees. First, he believes that to do so is unbiblical. Secondly, to do so subjects the church to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes which consist of Social Security and Medicare taxes. (Ibid., p. 18).

“Whether a church or religious organization must withhold and pay employment tax depends upon whether the church’s workers are employees. Determination of worker status is important. Several facts determine whether a worker is an employee. For an in-depth explanation and examples of the common law employer-employee relationship, see “IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide.  Those IRS definitions do not apply to members of a New Testament church involved in ministry because those members do not receive wages. The IRS states:

“Wages paid to employees of churches or religious organizations are subject to FICA taxes unless one of the following exceptions applies: (1) wages are paid for services performed by a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church in the exercise of his or her ministry, or by a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by such order, (2) the church or religious organization pays the employee wages of less than $108.28 in a calendar year, or (3) a church that is opposed to the payment of social security and Medicare taxes for religious reasons [files Form 8274]…. If such an election is made, affected employees must pay Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax… (IRS Publication 1828 (2009) p. 18).”

Other IRS rules apply to taxes on compensation of ministers. A New Testament church cannot pay wages or any type of compensation to her pastor or anyone else. According to the Bible, members of such a church can give gifts to take care of a pastor, but those gifts are not wages and are not required by contract or any other earthly rule.

Unlike exempt organizations or businesses, civil law provides that a church is not required to withhold income tax from the compensation that it pays to its duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers for performing services in the exercise of their ministry” (Ibid., p. 18-19). In fact, a New Testament church cannot “compensate” anyone since she is a spiritual entity, and therefore can hold no property of any kind, nor can she hold money. Members as individuals can give tithes and offerings to be used for biblically approved uses. Such gifts are can be held by a pastor/trustee who holds property and money for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ and disperses money given for biblically acceptable ministries and uses.

Furthermore, anyone can give a gift or gifts to anyone else. According to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, gifts up to a certain amount are not income and therefore, not taxable. In 1998, gifts of up to $10,000 were not taxable, and that limit has increased each year since according to the formula laid out in Internal Revenue Code § 2503.

V. Conclusion

The Bible lays out the guidelines for churches. No matter what civil law says, a church and her members should adhere to those guidelines, even if inconvenienced, penalized, and/or persecuted. American law is more favorable to true New Testament churches than are the laws of almost all other nations, but the law has become somewhat convoluted, especially regarding deductions for the tithes and offerings of New Testament church members. The conveniences which the federal government offers churches through the 501(c)(3) exemption-definition-control scheme actually violates the First Amendment (See “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for more information on 501((3)). The First Amendment to the United States Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

The complications, inconveniences, and penalties caused members of New Testament churches have come about because the great majority of churches and pastors have not honored the Lord in their understanding of and application of the biblical doctrine of the church. They have not determined, as did the Apostle Paul, to present their church as a chaste virgin to Christ (See II Co. 11.2). In other words, most churches do not love the Lord as He loves His churches (See,  “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls“). Most incorporate (or become unincorporated associations or corporations sole) and get 501(c)(3) status. As to this matter at least, they walk in the flesh, not in the Spirit. As the author chronicles in Section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and in other articles and audio teachings, after the adoption of the First Amendment, many “Bible believing” churches who had fought long and hard for religious liberty ignored the sound biblical advice of men like Isaac Backus and began to run to the state to incorporate. In the twentieth century churches sought 501(c)(3) status when it became available. They violated biblical principles, displeased the Lord, and gave up much of their First Amendment rights and protection.

“Nearly 30 years ago, an eminent minister insisted before Congress that: [T]he first amendment … should not permit the state to tell the church when it is being ‘religious’ and when it is not. The church must be permitted to define its own goals in society in terms of the imperatives of its religious faith. Is the Christian church somehow not being religious when it works on behalf of healing the sick, or for the rights of minorities, or as peacemaker on the international scene? No, the church itself must define the perimeters of its outreach on public policy questions” (Richard W. Garnett, A Quiet Faith? Taxes, Politics, and the Privatization of Religion. 42 B.C. L. Rev. 771, 772, 2001, citing Legislative Activity By Certain Types of Exempt Organizations: Hearings Before the House Ways and Means Committee, 92d Cong., 2d Sess. 99, 305 (1972) quoted in Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr., On Not Rendering to Caesar: The Unconstitutionality of Tax Regulation of Activities of Religious Organizations Relating to Politics, 40 DePaul L. Rev. 1, 20 (1990)).

A New Testament church is protected by God forever, and temporally by the First Amendment. On the other hand, a state incorporated church enters into a contract with the state, the sovereign of the corporation. By so doing, the incorporated church assumes a second personality—that of an artificial person, a legal entity, capable of suing and being sued (See “Separation of Church and State: Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil” for more information on the meaning of church incorporation.). Incorporation provides for civil governmental regulation in many areas, and it does not protect the church from all governmental interference with matters outside the contract. When a church seeks and acquires 501(c)(3) status, she thereby has agreed to certain restrictions and that she will abide by public policy (See “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for more information on 501(c)(3) tax exemption.). She also submits herself to anti-biblical teaching from civil government through the IRS. Most egregious of all, she, like Israel who asked for a king, has committed a great wickedness against God by putting herself, at least partially, under another head. We are witnessing the undesirable consequences which follow church incorporation and 501(c)(3).

Most churches walk in the flesh and not the spirit as to the issue of separation of church and state and are guilty of one or more of the following, among other things: using far more resources to build magnificent edifices than to reach the lost; catering to individual’s flesh instead of preaching against sin, proclaming the true Gospel of salvation, and teaching the deeper principles and doctrines of Scripture; and organizing and running “businesses” instead of New Testament churches to one degree or another. The results are: churches, believers, and church families lack the power of God; many individuals, families, churches, and the nation follow Satan and his principles; and, most importantly, far fewer souls in America, as a percentage, are being saved than would be the case would churches only get serious about the love relationship between Christ and His churches.

Note

All legal conclusions in this article are those of the author, a Christian and a licensed attorney. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of biblical principles, including study of the biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. One who has not paid the price and done his homework in these matters cannot gain a correct understanding of the issues by reading a few articles over the internet—including articles in this “Separation of Church and State” blog—or elsewhere; by studying cases and law himself; by consulting with lawyers, pastors, or Christians of state churches; by consulting with lawyers, pastors, or Christians who embrace a false theology; and/or by consulting with pastors or Christians who have no actual training in a bona fide law school and who have not practiced law.  Those with the proper credentials and who specialize can see and understand things that others cannot. The Lord wishes a church to be a spiritual body and each member of that body to practice the gift with which God has entrusted him. Many “Christians,” including many “Christian” lawyers who are making a lot of money by recommending legal status (non-profit corporation, 501(c)(3) tax exemption, etc), sometimes motivating the unknowledgeable through fear tactics, and helping churches to get legal entity status are not qualified under God and/or under man to advise on church-state issues. Every church and every believer is responsible to God in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, even in matters which require a deep understanding of biblical principles and man’s laws relating thereto.

The author is totally aware that many “Bible believing” pastors and Christians will not seek truth regarding these preeminent legal and spiritual facts and doctrines. He is at peace though, because he has done what the Lord has called him to do—declare the truths about these matters. That is all he can do. After all, the religious crowd did not have ears to hear and rejected the truths which were declared to them by God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Letters from Pastors in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Blog” and My Replies: March, 2010 posting

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March, 2010
All articles on this blog may also be accessed from the following link:
Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com)

Contents
I. Letter No. 1
II. My Reply to Letter No. 1
III. Letter No. 2
IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2
V. Letter No. 3
VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3
VII. Letter No. 4
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4
IX. Pastor’s Response to My Reply to Letter No. 4
X. My Reply to Pastor’s Response
XI. Letter No. 5
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5
XIII. Conclusion
XIV. Links to IRS Laws
XV. Note

Click maroon or blue colored links to go directly to the linked articles, websites, etc.

This article gives some pastors’ e-mails with their comments and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. This is the second article on this blog with letters from pastors. The first article was What Pastors Are Saying in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog (click link to go to article).

I will publish future articles on other e-mails from pastors because these e-mails not only raise important questions which need to be addressed, but also give insights into the thoughts of pastors on issues such as church incorporation and 501(c)(3).

You probably have received and possibly read some of my articles on this blog. Click this link, “Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” for links to all the articles on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.

 I. Letter No. 1 (Received October 21, 2009:):

Bro. Finney…Thank you for the email.  Where did you get my info?  I am the pastor of ________________ Church in ______________, TN.  We have recently formed a church and were debating about incorporation.  This is very intersesting, we merged with another church that was incorporated and were about to just chnge the name on the incorporation, even though it is a whole new church.  I asked God to stop me if it was ot His will, and I got your email out of the blue.  I would love to talk to you and get the other side of the story.  What is your #, Mine is ______________________.

[Pastor’s name]
“Ye Must be born again”

II. My Reply to Letter No. 1:

Dear Pastor _______________,

My phone nos. are: C: 512-785-8445; H: 512-385-0761. It would be an honor to discuss this with you. I still have some work to do, then going on visitation and church. I will try to call you as soon as I can get my work done, or feel free to call me at anytime.

For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney

Note. I did call this dear brother

III. Letter No. 2 (received December 19, 2009 Pastor gave me permission to use his identifying information.):

Dear Brother [Finney],

I briefly read your article on Separation of Church and State.

When we planted Fellowship Baptist Church in Cumberland R.I. in 1997, I was getting counsel from my sending church on how to write-up the “articles of incorporation” to become “legitimate” .

I praise the Lord that my eyes were open to God’s wisdom and shut to man’s foolishness.  As I was reading through the laws of what  incorporation meant, it struck me like a lightening bolt that Caesar and of course the devil were immediately seeking to control the church that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for.  The State IS NOT the head of the church and if it becomes the head through incorporation, then one has immediately surrendered.

Incorporation is a way for these  State run entities to protect their lands and buildings.  Of course when Peter warned of false prophets making merchandise out of the brethren, clearly the LORD saw our modern day “churches” being run as businesses.

I have had some professed believers who would not join the church because of us not being incorporated.  Clearly, taking this stance separates the sheep from the goats.

I praise God for your article and will share it with the brethren.

In the Love of Christ Jesus,
Mark Manzoni
Pastor
Fellowship Baptist Church
Cumberland, Rhode Island

IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2:

Dear Pastor Manzoni,

Praise the Lord for men of God like you! Any man of God who believes God’s Word should have your insights, but many professors do not. It is an encouragement to hear from you. The Lord called me into this ministry in 2005, and since then I have spent thousands of hours in research as well as writing and speaking on the issue. As you might suspect, many pastors do not respond to this message as you have. It is encouraging every time I meet another pastor or Christian who realizes the importance of this issue to our Lord.

With your permission, I would like to use your letter. It may be a month or two before I publish it. If you do not want your church or name mentioned, I will delete names.

As I teach in my books, articles, etc., members of a corporate church have less protection than a New Testament church. First a New Testament church has the blessing and power of God, which a state church  does not have. Second, if church property is held properly by a New Testament church, church members have more protection than do members of state churches.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney

V. Letter No. 3 (Received October 15, 2009):

Are you saying we should not be registered?

________________

VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3:

Dear Brother _________________,

It is not what I say or think about an issue. The real question is, “What does the Word of God teach on this issue. That is, what are the biblical principles concerning this issue?” So, first one must understand the biblical principles involved – in this case, the biblical principles concerning church, state, and separation of church and state. Then, one must apply fact to principle to see if principle is being violated.

This is what I do in the studies provided. A pastor or other Christian can study the teachings. This gives one a reference point to consider these issues. Most pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christians today have never looked at these principles. Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he migh sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ep. 5.25-26). The epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church who was jealous over the church with a godly jealousy. As Paul wrote “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his sutilty, so your  minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (1 Co. 11.2-3). The principles of civil government are also laid out in the Bible as is the principle of separation of church and state. Millions have and continue to give their lives for these principles, but not in America.

It is your love relationship with the Lord that is affected. When an individual and a church violates that relationship, not only is our Lord is grieved but also there are bad consequences.

Thanks for your interest in this matter.

For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney

VII. Letter No. 4 (Received January 16, 2010):

Dear Jerald,

I have been a fundamental Baptist pastor for almost 40 years. My dad was a IFB pastors for 50 years. The churches involved are/were all 501(c)(3). I have never witnessed any government interference or encroachment into church affairs.

Dr. ____________________

VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4:

Dear Pastor __________________,

There are many good pastors who have never studied either the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state or the facts about the nature of incorporation and 501(c)(3). When a born-again believer does not do such a study, he is easily led astray in the matter of church organization since he does not know or understand those very important biblical principles. Most of the “fundamental Baptist churches” in America are not following God’s principles of organization for His churches. The Bible makes clear that God desires us to continue in His Word so that we may know the truth and so that we may grow and proceed in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in this spiritual warfare we are in.

In fact, the civil government will not interfere in your church affairs as long as you abide by the rules you agreed to when you took the 501(c)(3). When a church gets a 501(c)(3) exemption, she violates biblical principles and grieves our Lord. 501(c)(3) originally had no rules.  Five rules or requirements for 501(c)(3) organizations have been added to the law since Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) was initially enacted, four of which were added by legislation and one by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by Supreme Court decision. There is nothing a religious organization can do to stop further rules from being added to 501(c)(3) or to remove those already there because the controlling party to the agreement initiated by 501(c)(3) status is the federal government.

In order to get the 501(c)(3) a church must be a legal entity such as a corporation. The facts about incorporation and 501(c)(3) prove that for a church to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status violates many biblical principles and grieves our Lord.

The heretical teaching that 501(c)(3) and incorporation of churches is acceptable to God displeases our Lord and leads to further heresy and finally to apostasy. The steps in the downfall of a nation, according to the Bible, are religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political anarchy. We are well into the third stage in America.

Fundamental Baptist churches who have incorporated and obtained 510(c)(3) status display the results of heresy to one degree or another. Of course, those churches do not even realize their error and the results; but the consequences of their ignorance, whether willful or not, is on display. Since they have no  power of God or a diluted power of God, the world sees nothing in them that is attractive, nor do I or other knowledgeable Christians.

I get into these matters in great detail in my books, audio teachings, and articles.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney, BBA, JD
churchandstatelaw.com
opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com

IX. Pastor’s response to my reply to Letter No. 4:

Dear brother Finney,

I have annotated several comments below for your consideration. I find it of interest that you as a lawyer consider yourself to have greater understanding of Scripture than ordained men of God who have spent a lifetime studying the Word. What would you think if I as a layman to the legal arena had read some books on law and therefore were making pronouncements about how lawyers should discharge their law practice? By the way, as the founding pastor of this church, I personally filled out the papers to incorporate with the State of Minnesota and then the 501(c)(3) application myself and did not use a lawyer. The Minnesota not-for-profit papers are renewed each year (or 3 years whatever) on a 3″x5″ post card or more recently a couple of clicks on the internet. I am aware of the benefits of incorporation and have never seen any of the supposed problems thereof in the real-life work of the church.

X. My reply to His response:

Dear Pastor __________________,

A lot of the ordained men of God who have studied the relevant principles agree with me. The problem is that many who do not agree with me have not studied the principles, facts, history, or legalities; nor were they taught these matters in church, Bible College or Seminary, or by the “Christian” lawyers who make millions helping state churches or helping churches to become state churches.

I have been saved since 1982. I was saved in a revival meeting at a non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) Baptist church. Of course I had no idea that the church was non-incorporated or non-501(c)(3) at that time. I knew nothing about such matters. However, for the first time in my life, I saw the power of God at work.

Since that time, I have been faithful to church and faithful to studying the Bible. In addition to the teaching from my pastors, I read the Bible, heard and took notes on thousands of sermons since I rarely missed church services and attended camp meetings where many pastors preached and taught, and followed the teaching of Dr. J. Vernon McGee for many years. I have been an active particpant in many ministries, a faithful tither and giver, etc.

In 2003, I began an intense study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state. I have read many, many other books dealing with those issues, and was called by God, in 2005, to actively deal with those issues. I wrote my findings in my writings, beginning with God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Before I published it, I gave it to several pastors, including my own pastor, and asked for them to critique it. I received feedback from a few. My pastor said the book was OK to publish.

After publishing the book, I gave copies to probably 50 or more pastors, missionaries, Bible teachers, and other Christians, besides those who have bought the book. I asked for honest feedback. I told everyone, and continue to do so, “Tell me where you believe I am wrong and I will be glad to have a congenial and honest discussion to see if  you can convince me I am wrong.”

The  result has been that many have praised or agreed with the book. However, those Christians and pastors who are against it, but cannot refute it (or just do not take the time to study it), get mad, usually as soon as they learn that I am crusading against churches becoming incorporated and getting 501(c)(3) status or becoming legal entities in any way, and that I believe doing so is contrary to the will of God as laid out in His Word.

I have met very few pastors, Christians, lawyers or anyone else, as a percentage,  who have done a study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state; and I have met very few who have studied incorportion, 501(c)(3) or the other methods of becoming a legal entity. Especially of note is that I have never met the pastor of an incorporated, 501(c)(3) who has a clue about the relevant biblical principles and facts, both legal and historical. I see, for the most part, the blind leading the blind.

It is easy for a church to incorporate and get a 501(c)(3) exemption. It is just a matter of filling out forms. Anyone of average intelligence can fill out forms. Thank God you did not abuse God’s money by using a lawyer to do that. However, understanding the law, facts, and biblical principles concerning what you were doing is something entirely different. How many hours have you spent to understand those matters?

I invite you to critique my books. In order to do that, you must read and study them, as well as the Word of God, with an open mind as led by the Holy Spirit. It will be well worth the effort because “Christ loved the church and gave himself, for it;” because He likens His church to His wife, his bride over whom He desires to be the only Head; because He is jealous of His church, etc. Let me say that there are problems with incorporation and 501(c)(3), but only one who is walking in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding can see them.

All born again believers, including pastors, have a responsibility to study the Word of God. The Holy Spirit leads them into truth when they diligently continue in God’s Word. Every one of us is responsible for growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

I  am not  your enemy. Actually, I was sent by God to help those who have an ear to hear. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22).

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
churchandstatelaw.com

XI. Letter No. 5 (Received 12/28/09):

Dear Jerald Finney, JD

I’m the Pastor of an Independent Baptist church in Texas. I find your information very informative . Now comes my question if our church iscurrently a 501 (c) (3) what can we do to leave the governments program . Would we face legal repercussions. Please when you have time advise me .

Sincerely In Christ,
Pastor _________________

XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5:

Dear Pastor ________________,

In order to properly advise you, I need to talk to you. There is absolutely no charge for my services. Should you decide to go forward, I do ask a love gift for my legal associate who does the ground work. She is highly qualified, and I do ask a love offering for her services since she has given her life to serving the Lord in this cause.

Can you all me at 512-385-0761 (H&O) or 512-785-8445?

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

Note. Pastor ______________ called and we discussed this matter.

XIII. Conclusion

My conclusions from reading and responding to these e-mails, as I believe you will agree, is that:

“the understanding of the biblical principles, history, law, and facts among pastors varies widely. Some pastors are like secularists in that they have no spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and refuse to  (and maybe cannot) look at the issues with an open mind. Some rely on their opinions as opposed to the Word of God as the basis for what they believe. Many take Scriptural verses completely out of context to support their erroneous views. Others are eager to please the Lord, and seek to increase their knowledge about these preeminent matters. Some already have some degree of understanding, greater or lesser, about these issues. Some are already practicing biblical principles in the area of church and state.”

XIV. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws

You can read portions of the following Internal Revenue Code laws which pertain to churches and pastors by going to the following site: “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”; or you may read an entire law online by clicking the following links:

1. § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
4. § 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (Tithes and offerings are gifts and, therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, not income)
7.
§ 2503. Taxable gifts
8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts

XV. Note

The Biblical Law Center helps churches to organize as New Testament churches completely out from under civil government and under God only. See churchandstatelaw.com for contact information for Jerald Finney, counsel for the Biblical Law Center. This is a ministry, not a business enterprise. Jerald Finney has made no profit at all in this endeavor of Christian love, but rather has expended much of his own money for God’s glory, in attempting to provide information and service for God’s churches.

All conclusions in this article are opinions of the author. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of Biblical principles, including study of the Biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. You can always find a lawyer or Christian who will agree with the position that an American church should become incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status. Jerald Finney will discuss the matter, as time avails, with any such person, with confidence that his position is supported by God’s Word, history, and law. He is always willing, free of charge and with love, to support his belief that for a church to submit herself to civil government in any manner grieves our Lord and ultimately results in undesirable consequences. He does not have unlimited time to talk to individuals. However, he will teach or debate groups, and will point individuals to resources which fully explain his positions.

About Jerald Finney: The author is a Christian first and a lawyer second. He has no motive to mislead you. In fact, his motivation is to tell you the truth about this matter, and he guards himself against temptation on this and other issues by doing all he does at no charge. He does not seek riches. His motivation is his love for God first and for others second. His goal is the Glory of God. Jerald Finney has been saved since 1982. God called him to go to law school for His Glory. In obedience, Finney entered the University of Texas School of Law in 1990, was licensed and began to practice law, for the Glory of God, in November of 1993.  To learn more about the author click the following link: About Jerald Finney.

END

For His Glory
Jerald Finney, BBA, JD
churchandstatelaw.com
opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com