Tag Archives: First Amendment and 501(c)(3)

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

Did President Trump do away with 501(c)(3) requirements?


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 2, 2017


President Trump, desiring to help churches and “Christians,” and according to the advice of those “Christians”  who surround him, pledged to eliminate the Johnson Amendment which limits all nonprofits from endorsing and opposing political candidates. I believe he is sincerely trying to help churches. Accordingly, he signed an executive order easing restrictions on political activity by non-profits. Of course, he cannot unilaterally change the law; but he did all he could do to help – ease but not eliminate one of the five restrictions which come with 501(c)(3) status. Just as non-profit corporation status puts the state of incorporation over a church for many matters, 501(c)(3), a man made law, still puts the federal government and the IRS agency over churches with respect to certain rules that come with the chosen status.

Does this action by the President correct the problem with 501(c)(3)? No. I explain why in this article

One should be aware that the highest man made law in America, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, and corresponding state constitutional provisions make clear that churches have a choice – remain under Christ only or submit themselves to the state and federal governments through corporate 501(c)(3) status.

Keep in mind, for example:

  • Matthew 16:18 “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Is a church built partially or wholly by man (man’s law) a church of Christ? Is such a church His church?
  • Ephesians 1:22 “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Is Christ the head over all things to an incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 church? The simple to comprehend answer is an emphatic, “No!”
  • Colossians 1:18 “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”

Let us first briefly examine or look at what church 501(c)(3) status really is. This will highlight the real issue. We will have to touch on incorporation since the two are intertwined.

Most churches choose to apply for both corporate and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status even though a choice not to do so is protected by the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions. Churches who incorporate and/or get 501(c)(3) or 508 status are established churches. They combine with civil government under man-made law. They get some perceived “benefits” and powers from civil government. In return, they agree to abide by the non-profit corporation laws of the state of incorporation and the commandments which come with the federal 501(c)(3) law they sought and agreed to. They also agree that, in the event they have issue with a commandment imposed by the law, the authority who will decide the issue is the government through its court systems. Their authority for many matters is the civil government, not the Lord Jesus Christ. One might call those churches who constantly defy and complain about the rules or commandments they agreed to “hypocrites.”

Churches who seek and obtain 501(c)(3) agree to abide by the rules that come with 501(c)(3), and also to any future rules added by the federal government though legislation, or by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by the courts. Maybe some do not realize what they are doing when they get such status; some may proceed without knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Nonetheless, when they get the status, they agree to the rules and commandments which come with the status and they agree that, in the event their authority who will decide the issue is the first the agency process with appeal to federal court available to the losing side, not the Word of God. Corporate 501(c)(3) churches proudly proclaim victory when their authority rules in favor of their position and moan and groan when their authority decides against them. They cannot understand that they lost no matter what their authority decides because they have put themselves under the wrong authority, according to the Word of God; and even their so-called victories are riddled with compromise.

Originally, 4 commandments or rules, added by legislative law, came with 501(c)(3). The IRS added a fifth. Prior to Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983), there were four rules. Bob Jones University upheld the IRS “shall not violate fundamental public policy” rule. Now there are five commandments. The fifth one has not yet been applied, as far as I know, to a church. Many pastors do not preach of certain matters because they fear that they will be in violation of that rule—they do not wish to offend their master, their authority, by preaching certain offensive matters covered by the Word of God. Other pastors openly preach on prohibited matters knowing that the state may exercise their authority and command them to comply or lose their status. The only authority to which a church can then appeal is the civil court system who will decide whether they are not obeying their master and, if so, the consequences. By the way, the court will not allow such a church to make Bible based arguments. With corporate 501(c)(3) status comes the loss of many of the church’s First Amendment rights. A corporate 501(c)(3) church is a “legal entity,” an artificial person who has placed herself under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes thereby giving up much of her First Amendment protection.

One who does just a little study can easily understand that the governments of the state of incorporation and the federal government are the authorities, for many purposes, of a corporate 501(c)(3) church. Civil government is their head as to many matters. The Lord Jesus Christ is, at most, only one of their authorities or heads. For many churches, Christ is completely eliminated from the equation and their sole authority is civil government. Churches grieve our Lord by submitting to another head. Christ is not over “over all things to” those churches.  According to the Bible, this raises a very important question, “Are corporate 501(c)(3) churches churches of Christ, built by Christ and Him alone? They are churches, but are they Christ’s churches? The answer is obvious.

So the main issue is one of authority. Looking beyond that, only the legislature, not the President, can eliminate the Johnson Amendment or any other rule that comes with 501(c)(3) status. It is a law, passed by Congress and signed by the President. The President, of course, is the law enforcer. Like any law enforcer, he can choose to ease or relax his efforts to enforce what he deems to be an unjust law, you might say. He cannot do away with the fact that the authority of the 501(c)(3) church, as to the rules that come with it, is the federal government through its agent, the IRS. The courts, not the President, decide unresolved clashes between 501(c)(3) churches and the IRS. Only the legislature, not the President, can repeal a law subject to his signature of approval. The legislature has taken no action to overrule the Johnson Amendment in the many months since President Trump filed his executive order nor has President Trump encouraged the legislature to do away with either 501(c)(3) status or any of the other rules that come with 501(c)(3).

Even should the Johnson Amendment be eliminated by legislative law signed by the President, there would still be four other rules that churches agreed to comply with when they chose to apply for 501(c)(3) tax exemption. It is no secret that churches and so called “Christian” lawyers have also been worried about rule number five, the fundamental public policy rule, for at least 15 or 20 years. Their advice: “pray about it.” I would like to hear one of their prayers. I do not think they will pray, “Lord, forgive us for dishonoring you and causing you much grief by prostituting your churches. We repent. Help us to honorably withdraw from our unholy alliances.”

I have touched on the main issue. Let me restate some of the above points and list some other matters. President Trump’s speeches and his executive order reflect Christian revisionist history. They:

  1. ignore the fact that churches are not required to give up some of their First Amendment protections when they choose to become 501(c)(3) organizations who submit to the federal government as to certain matters;
  2. ignore the fact that churches voluntarily put themselves under 501(c)(3) with all the rules that accompany their choice spelled out in form 1028;
  3. ignore the fact that churches voluntarily give up much of their First Amendment protection when they place themselves under a law which commands them not to do certain things;
  4. ignore the fact that churches who incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status put themselves, for many purposes, under the Fourteenth Amendment;
  5. do not take into account that 501(c)(3) was a law implemented in 1954, 164 plus years after the adoption of the First Amendment;
  6. ignore the question of whether 501(c)(3) is even constitutional since the First Amendment religion clause says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof;”
  7. reflect a lack of understanding of the true history of the First Amendment;
  8. reflect the “Christian” revised history of the First Amendment;
  9. misrepresent what church/state establishment meant when the Constitution and First Amendment were adopted;
  10. misrepresent what Thomas Jefferson, for example, stood for (He stood for a secular state with complete separation of church and state);
  11. disregard and go contrary to Bible principles concerning church, state, and the relationship God desires between church and state;
  12. ignorantly work for the end-time one world union of church and state under the beast;
  13. etc.

I wish to make one other point: I believe that freeing 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations to become active in politics will unleash liberal 501(c(3) organizations–atheist, secular, and religious–who will fight for liberal candidates, and that those organizations substantially outnumber and have much more money and power than the conservative churches who constantly attack the rule. Those liberal organizations include Planned Parenthood, Inc. (an organization that gets a lot of government money), the Church of Wicca,  Inc. and many many other incorporated 501(c)(3) organizations and churches who will support liberal candidates.

In conclusion, I believe that President Trump is sincerely trying to help the cause of religious liberty. But he is being misled by certain “Christian” persons and organizations who will use any means necessary to achieve their goals. Their false Biblical interpretations and goals hasten fulfillment of end time prophecies—religion and government will unify and bring in a 3 ½ year of peace followed by 3 ½ year period of great tribulation, and finally the appearance of our Lord who will crush the world powers who are coming against Israel and then establish His 1000 year reign, the Kingdom of Heaven.


Links to some articles: Trump Vow: ‘Totally Destroy’ 501(c)(3) Political Activity Ban, February 3, 2017.  President Trump vowed to He signed an executive order easing restrictions on religious participation in politics. See Trump signs executive order to ease restrictions on religious participation in politics, May 4, 2017. TRUMP RELAXES 501(C)(3) POLITICAL ACTIVITY RULES, May 5, 2017.

The Bible Answer to the Question, “Is an Incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 Church a Church of Christ?” (Prepared for a talk given at the September 16-19 Liberty Baptist Church of Albuquerque, NM, Southwest Baptist Heritage Camp Meeting. Click here to go to Part I of the video of that presentationClick here to go to Part II of that presentation, “Why a Church Is Not a Business.” Part II was removed from Part I. In Part II, Jerald Finney invited Evangelist and Pastor Terry Woodside to tell his story which demonstrates that a church which is a non-legal entity cannot be sued in America. Click here to go to the page which has links to all sermons and presentations at that meeting.)


Resources for Additional Study

A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority

The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder/Christian Revisionists on Trial/The History of the First Amendment
This book examines not only the history of the First Amendment but also the Catholic/Calvinist/Reformed tactics and motives for killing “heretics” and lying about history and other matters as they attempt to unite church and state.

Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption
(Section VI, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed; Chapter 4 of Separation of Church and State)

The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme
(Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed; Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State)

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

Is a church a spiritual or a legal entity?

Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?

The History of the First Amendment

An Abridged History of the First Amendment

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application
This book examines all aspects of the issue of separation of church and state

For verification of the truths presented, see
List of Scholarly Resources Which Explain and Comprehensively Document the True History of Religious Freedom in America

 

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

The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September, 2009
Jerald Finney teaches on “The Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” Left click to hear Jerald Finney teaching on this subject. Right click the link and then left click “Save link as…” to download. The teaching is preceded by a hymn sang by Rocky Otwell, a great man of God, and prayer. The teaching is approximately 25 minutes, not including the song.
Click here to go to: ANSWER TO QUESTION REGARDING A LAWYERS FALSE STATEMENTS CONCERNING CHURCH CORPORATE 501(C)(3) STATUS

“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Lu. 16.8b).

It is amazing to see that most of the fundamental “Bible believing” pastors and Christians that I know believe that something is wrong with a church who refuses to incorporate and get Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) status. Biblical principles are against incorporation and 501(c)(3) for churches, and civil law does not purport to require that churches get either corporate or 501(c)(3) status. In fact, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, laws, and regulations of the federal government as well as the constitutions, laws, and regulations of the states guarantee that churches may remain free under God without persecution. This article addresses church 501(c)(3) status.

501(c)(3) invites churches to seek a tax exemption from civil government, even though the First Amendment already has erected a “high and impregnable wall” of separation between church and state which forbids civil government from making any law, including any taxing law, respecting a New Testament Church.

The more I study the subject of “separation of church and state,” the more I realize that secular scholars have more insight into the issue than do most of those, including pastors, who call themselves fundamental Bible believers.  Both the Internal Revenue Service and secular scholars know that churches are not required by law to be incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status and that 501(c)(3), as applied to churches, is an exemption-definition-control scheme which is implemented simply by invitation. In this article I give a brief review of the 501(c)(3)  exemption-control-definition scheme and insights from the law, from the Internal Revenue Service, and from legal scholars.

To qualify for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) religious organizations must meet the following requirements, i.e. abide by the following rules:

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

The above listed rules, except for rule number 5, are stated in 501(c)(3). The original 501(c)(3) law had no accompanying rules, but four of the five were added by legislative enactment, and signed into law by the president. The last one, “may not violate fundamental public policy,”is not stated in the law; that is, it is not listed as a requirement in § 501(c)(3). This requirement was unilaterally implemented by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld as law by the United States Supreme Court in the illogical Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574,  (1983) case. The federal government may add additional requirements to the law in the future.

Under these rules, the state controls, defines, and instructs a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization to a large degree. Control and definition go hand in hand. The federal government wants to control churches, and does so through 501(c)(3).

A study of relevant law, as well as IRS regulations and legal scholarship reveals that 501(c)(3) is voluntary and that it is a control-definition scheme.

IRC § 508(a),(c), in line with the First Amendment, 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, the law recognizes that a New Testament Church is non-taxable under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The IRS doesn’t hide the fact that churches are non-taxable under the First Amendment and IRC § 508(a),(c) and that the exemption-definition-control scheme is implemented by invitation. The IRS proclaims in IRS Publication 1828 (2007):

“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…. 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.”

In the exemption and restriction scheme, the government extends an invitation to incorporated “religious organizations” to receive a tax exemption in return for allowing the government to interpret and categorize their expression and activities.

Civil government not only knows what it is doing when encouraging churches to incorporate and seek 501(C)(3) status; it also blatantly belittles the fact that the IRC provisions exempting churches from taxation and providing for certain controls over corporate 501(c)(3) “churches” are contrary to the First Amendment. The federal government flaunts the lack of knowledge and understanding of the average Christian as to both spiritual and earthly matters. IRS Publication 1828 states:

Congress has enacted special tax laws applicable to churches, religious organizations, and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” [Emphasis mine.] …

A comparison of the above statements of the IRS with the words of the religion clause of the First Amendment reveals the fact that the IRS flaunts the fact that Congress has enacted laws “respecting the establishment of religion and preventing the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment religion clause says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  [Emphasis mine.]

Some legal scholars who have studied the issue know what the civil government is up to with the exemption-definition-control scheme. For example, Richard Garnett, assistant professor at Notre Dame Law School, wrote in A Quiet Faith? Taxes, Politics, and the Privatization of Religion, published in Volume 42 of B.C. L. Rev. starting on page 771 (this is a paraphrase of selected portions of the article with citations omitted):

  1. “The imposition of a tax is, after all, an assertion of power and an ‘application of force.’ The same is true of the decision not to tax, or to exempt from taxation. A power is no less real that is exercised selectively or indulged with restraint. The decision to exempt certain associations, persons, activities, or things from taxation presupposes and communicates the ability to do otherwise; definitional lines drawn to mark the boundaries of such exemptions implicitly assert the power to draw them differently…. My claim here is that the decision to exempt religious associations from federal taxation may reasonably be regarded as an assertion of power—the power, perhaps, to ‘destroy’—over these communities, their activities, and their expression….
  2. “In other words, maybe the power to tax churches, to exempt them from taxation, and to attach conditions to such exemptions really does as Chief Justice Marshall quipped, ‘involve the power to destroy’ religion. Neither heavy-handed repression nor even overt hostility toward faith is required, but merely the subtly didactic power of the law. Government need only express and enforce its own view of the nature of religion—i.e., that it is a private matter—and of its proper place—i.e., in the private sphere, not in politics—and religious believers and associations may yield to the temptation to embrace, and to incorporate, this view themselves….
  3. “It is an exemption-and-restriction scheme in which the government extends an invitation to ‘religious organizations’ to receive a tax exemption in return for allowing the government to interpret and categorize the expression and activities of the church.  There is the danger that, having made their own the government’s view of religion’s place, now-humbled and no-longer-prophetic religious associations will retreat with their witness to the ‘private’ sphere where—they now agree—they belong, leaving persons to face the state alone in the hollowed-out remains of the public square….
  4. “Still it strikes me that the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)’s exemption-and-restriction scheme is noteworthy in the extent to which it invites government to label as ‘propaganda’ or ‘campaign[ing]’ what are, for religious believers and communities, expressions of their faith and responses to their calling. It is far from clear that this is an appropriate task for the liberal state….
    “My concern … is that the premises of the conditional exemption scheme, the labeling it invites, and the monitoring of distinctions it creates will tame religion by saying what it is and identifying what it is not, tempt religion to revise its conception of itself and of its mission, and convince religious consciousness to internalize the state’s own judgment that faith simply does not belong in politics….
  5. “[The tax exemption] is simply the government’s way of paying churches not to talk about certain things, enforce certain beliefs, or engage in certain actions—in other words, it’s the government’s way of privatizing the church….
  6. “By determining for its own purposes the meaning of religious communities’ statements and activities, and by enforcing the distinctions it draws, government subtly reshapes religious consciousness itself. In other words, by telling religion what it may say, really is saying, or will be deemed to have said, and by telling faith where it belongs, government molds religion’s own sense of what it is….
  7. “[Certain pronouncements] led my colleague, Professor Bradley, to suggest in another context that ‘[t]he Court is now clearly committed to articulating and enforcing a normative scheme of ‘private religion.’ Indeed, he argues powerfully that the Court’s post-Everson v. Board of Education cases ‘are most profitably understood as judicial attempts to move religion into the realm of subjective preference by eliminating religious consciousness.’ … [T]he Court turned to privatization ‘as the ‘final solution’ to the problem of religious faction.’ Its ambition—not merely the unintended effect of its decisions—is not only to confine the potentially subversive messages of religion to a ‘nonpublic ghetto,’ but also to revise and privatize the messages themselves. Having acquiesced to judicial declarations that it is a private matter, and accepted that its authority is entirely subjective, religious consciousness is unable to resist the conclusion that its claims to public truth are ‘implausible nonsense,’ and therefore cannot help but concede the field of public life and morality to government….
  8. “[T]his privatization of religion is not simply its institutional disestablishment or an entirely appropriate respect on government’s part for individual freedom of conscience and autonomy of religion institutions. Nor is the claim only that the exemption privatizes religion by deterring political activism and silencing political advocacy by religious believers and communities. It is, instead, that the exemption scheme and its administration subtly re-form religion’s conception of itself. Government evaluates and characterizes what churches say and do, and decides both what it will recognize as religious and what it will label as political….
  9. “[P]rivatization of the church is its remaking by government and its transformation from a comprehensive and demanding account of the world to a therapeutic ‘cacoon wrapped around the individual.’ It is a state-sponsored change in religious believers’ own notions of what their faith means and what it requires…. The government tells faith communities that religion is a private matter, and eventually, they come to believe it.
  10. “And finally, the retreat of religious associations to the private sphere suggests an ill-founded confidence that government will not follow. But it will. The privatization of religion is a one-way ‘ratchet that stems the flow of religious current into the public sphere, but does not slow the incursion of political norms into the private realm.’”

Michael Hatfield, Associate Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law makes some important points in his article published in Volume 20 of Notre Dame Journal of Ethics and Public Policy beginning on page 125. (I suggest that the serious student get the article and study it for himself.):

  1. “There is an assumption among contemporary scholars [&, I might add, among Pastors and other Christians] that a church doing without tax exemption is ‘fundamentally repugnant,’ so there is no need for substantive analysis of the tax issues involved if a church becomes taxable. Instead of analyzing the tax problem, the tax problem tends to be used to introduce ‘bigger’ ideas about the Constitution, religion, and politics. In the current scholarship, the context of the issue – religion and politics – tends to become substituted for the substance: federal income taxation. The critical issue, however, is federal income taxation.”
  2. Professor Hatfield states that he uses the terms ‘Taxable Church’ and ‘Tax Exempt Church’ to make it clear that churches need not be Section 501(c)(3) organizations.…
  3. Professor Hatfield states, “A tax without a cost has no meaning.… Because of the unique treatment churches receive under the Internal Revenue Code, the impact of the revocation is likely to be more symbolic than substantial.”
  4. He states: “Churches ought not make guesses about the value of their assets or their moral convictions. There is no reason to believe that most American churches are eager to claim an express political identity, though there are indications that, more and more, religious and political identities in America are being fused. For churches with a clear moral conviction to campaign, the implication of the Asset Management Analysis is clear: crunch the numbers. Determine the cost of losing tax exemption. Decide if that cost is worth campaigning. Do not be distracted by imaginations as to what tax exemption is about. It is about taxes. It is about money. It is not about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to be a church, which is a religious issue and not a tax issue. It should be – and presumably is – the religious convictions and not the tax worries of churches that keep them out of politics.”

Thus, a New Testament Church (“NTC”) – that is, a church operating according to New Testament principles – is non-taxable, because even if the term “taxable” is used, civil government cannot, according to its own IRS law, tax a NTC because (1) all her income is from gifts (See Section 102 of the IRS Code; Professor Hatfield points this out in his article), and (2) a NTC spends every dime given in tithes and offerings for church ministries.  Since gifts are not net income, what is left after subtracting expenses from net income? Even a business with no net income pays no taxes. And an individual or a business has to make a certain amount of money before paying any taxes.

How can it be that “Bible believing” Christians have gotten the churches of America so far astray from the principles for churches laid down by God in His Word? Are pastors and Christians ignorant or are they willfully ignorant? We cannot hope to straighten America out unless we first straighten our churches out, but it seems that more Christians are concerned about the state of America than they are about the state of the churches in America. God’s people and God’s churches, as well as America, are being destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

Note. The sodomites understand what 501(c)(3) for churches means, yet pastors and other Christians continue to ignore the issue because they, like lepers to whom the leprosy has spread to the head, have ‘their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciciousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4.18-19).  Here is a link to a sodomite article on the issue: “Equality is what we’re all about in Maine” (110518: Checked link; link is no longer active).  

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