THE STATE CONTROLLED CHURCH
by Rev. Mark Kiser
"No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." (Luke 1 6: 13)
"Behind every system there is a god. To find the god in any system, locate the source of law in that system. If the source of law is the individual, then the individual is the god of that system. If the source of the law is people, or the dictatorship of the proletariat, then these things are the gods of those systems. If our source of law is a court, then the court is our god. If there is no higher law beyond man, then man is his own god, or else his creatures, the institutions he has made, have become his gods. When you choose your authority, you choose your god, and where you look for your law, there is your god." -Rousas J. Rushdoony
CHURCH (church)n. 1. The assembly of the body of Christ; also, the bride of Christ. [Greek- ekklesia or "called out"]
corporation (kor' pe-ra' shen) n. 1. A body of persons granted a charter legally recognizing then as a separate entity having its own rights, privileges, and liabilities distinct from those of its members. b. Such a body created for purPOses of government. 2. A group of people combined into or acting as one body.
"Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship have light with dark- ness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, I will dwell among them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord." (2 Corinthians 6:14-17)
Now, let us look at some of the common myths of the 501(c)(3) non for profit concept:
MYTH #1- A CHURCH OR CHURCH MINISTRY MUST BE 501(c)(3) IN ORDER TO AVOID PAYING TAXES.
The IRS has acknowledged for decades that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for a tax exempt status. According to the IRS Publication 557, as well as the IRS Code 508, churches and church ministries are "exempt automatically." Application for an exempt status is not only superfluous, but to do so subordinates that church to the IRS. Churches in America have always been nontaxable!
It simply makes no sense for the church to go to the IRS and ask permission to be exempt from a tax the government can't impose in the first place. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
It would be absurd to suppose that you could have free exercise of religion if you had to pay for it (taxes). If Congress can make no law respecting the church, it can make no law to tax the church. The
IRS lacks the jurisdiction necessary to tax churches in America.
MYTH #2- A CHURCH OR CHURCH MINISTRY MUST BE 501(c)(3) TAX DEDUCTIBLE.
Any contributions made to a church are "automatically qualified" as a tax write-off to the contributor, pursuant to the IRS Publication
IN ORDER TO BE
526 and IRS Code 170(c)(2)(B). A Church does not have to be a "nonprofit charitable organization" to be tax deductible, not does it need the IRS' authorization to be tax deductible. Once again, according to the IRS, churches have that status "automatically."
MYTH #3- CHURCHES SHOULD COMPLY WITH ALL THE LAWS OF THE LAND BECAUSE JESUS SAID, "RENDER TO CAESAR THE THINGS THAT ARE CAESAR'S." (Mark 12)
Jesus did say render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, but that is only half of the verse. Jesus went on to say, "and to God the things that are God's." The obvious question to be ask, is at what time did Jesus place His Church under the authority and jurisdiction of Caesar (the State)?
President Thomas Jefferson said, "The Constitution has not placed our religious rights under the power of ANY public functionary." Our founding Fathers forever abolished the old State-Church and Church State system. When a person calls for the Church to be subordinate to the State, they are in fact calling for a return of that old State Church system. GOD HELP US! For the Church to apply to the government to be exempt from taxes presupposes that the government has legitimate authority to impose taxes on the Church to begin with, which it does not have.
MYTH #4- BEING A 501 (c)(3) HELPS TO LEGITIMIZE A CHURCH IN THE EYES OF THE WORLD. AFTER ALL, PAUL SAID, "Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." (2 Cor. 8:21)
It is a sad commentary on the Church of our day when any church feels compelled to go to sinners to seek legitimacy.
DO YOU ATI'END A STATE CONTROLLED CHURCH?
Take this simple quiz to find out:
1. Is your church governed by a church constitution or by-laws?
2. Does your church elect Trustees, a President, or a Chairman of the board?
3. Is your church Tax Exempt with the I.R.S.?
4. Is your church incorporated in your state?
5. Does your church belong to a Denomination that is incorporated or Tax Exempt?
IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO ANY OF THESE QUESTIONS, THEN THE STATE DICTATES TO YOUR CHURCH WHAT IT CAN AND CANNOT DO AND SAY!
Many of the above questions you may not have been able to answer off the top of your head. The majority of people who attend Church rarely know anything about the way their church is governed. If you were able to answer some or all the questions with a "yes", then what you are about to read may shock you: CHURCHES HAVE BY-LAWS OR CONSTITUTIONS BECAUSE THE STATE DEMANDS THAT ALL "INCORPORATED CHURCHES" BE GOVERNED BY ONE.
When a Church incorporates, it literally takes a corporate law book and lays it down along side the Bible and declares that the State is now the senior partner in the governing of this new union between the Church and State. To incorporate means to blend two things into one, so that the Church will no longer be what it once was, it becomes a Church, Inc. My friends, we have no right to take the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ which He purchased with His blood, and unite it with the State through incorporation.
A free church is a church that is truly separate, independent and autonomous from the state. It is the true assembly of the body of Christ. It is established by a local body of Christian believers without permission or sanction of the state. According to the Bible, the only "sovereign" of the free church is the Lord Jesus Christ. A true free church cannot incorporate, it cannot seek a 501 (c)(3) status, it cannot become a tax collector for the state, and it cannot accept government issued tax numbers (EIN).
The solution rests in the Church organizing and operating as a Church--ecclesia, not as something other than what the Lord Jesus Himself ordained and specified. Jesus spoke of the Church as a "body" with Him as the "Head" of His Church, and we are various "members of the body." The Church therefore is not an "organization" (a legal entity) but a living, breathing "organism."
This should not be a difficult biblical doctrine to grasp, particularly for the Pastors. Sadly, however, ever since local churches started organizing as tax-exempt non-profit corporations in the mid- twentieth century, and since the incorporated 501 (c)(3) church is now the status quo, many people have hard time conceiving of the church operating as just the church. For some odd reason, just being the church isn't good enough anymore for too many Christians.
The thinking today appears to be that we must be somehow be smarter than Jesus and His disciples were. They refused to incorporate and that refusal resulted in their persecution. Incorporation of all "spontaneous collectivities of persons" became mandatory throughout the Roman Empire by 6 A.D. We're told that we live in a far more complex world that the first century church, and so the church too must inevitably become more complex and adapt to the complexities of the modern information age.
The simplicities of the organizational infrastructure of the early church are no longer adequate to address the complex world in which we live.
Those who hold such beliefs, whether in word or deed, are in reality, making a public proclamation that Jesus Christ is no longer competent to govern His own church and provide for and protect it.
The courts well understand that "a church is not an entity recognized in law," meaning that they have no jurisdiction over the church. However, organizing a church, as a church, is an especially difficult concept for attorneys to grasp. Few attorneys can comprehend that there are things and issues completely outside the purview and jurisdiction of the civil government, nor do they care for the idea. After all, it’s hard to get many billable hours out of those churches that understand that civil government has no jurisdiction over them. A free church needs an attorney like a fish needs a bicycle. Remember, "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
" ... you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." (In.8:32)
It is the right of any church to operate free of the corruption and compromising influence and control of the state and it is a right guaranteed by the Congress. "Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ... " A free church is not some radical concept. Rather, the free church was one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most common institutions in early American history. The world view of those men who fought for America's independence embraced an uncompromising belief that the church was not in any way subordinate to any king, parliament, or any other civil government body.
The Church is the religious institution ordained and established by Jesus Christ Himself, and Christ has never and will never delegate His authority to civil jurisdiction to rule in the affairs of His Church. A free church is the opposite of the state church. The Church of England is a state church system. State churches are well known throughout Europe, and there have been state churches there for many centuries. Europeans not only have very low regard for their state churches and government licensed clergy, they often hold them in open contempt, and this is reflected statistically by what is the lowest church attendance in the world.
The church "taking" and actively pursuing a legal status that makes it inferior to, and subordinate of, the civil government. The two most significant ways this occurs is by incorporation (state jurisdiction) and tax-exempt 501(c)(3) status (federal jurisdiction.)
The solution is really very clear. The Church must legally operate as it once had in America (and I might add, quite successfully so). Rather than operating as "tax-exempt nonprofit religious corporations," churches once functioned as "free-churches." A free church operates independent of, and is in no way subordinate to the civil government.
Jesus Christ is in no way legitimized by the license, approval, acknowledgement or permission of wicked men. (Those who do not appreciate how corrupt the IRS is, haven't taken time to study public record)
For any Church to submit to the IRS for 501(c)(3) approval in an effort to be perceived by the world as being honest, even if well intentioned is, nonetheless, completely illogical. Accountability is a good thing, but only when we make ourselves accountable to those who are honest and trustworthy themselves.
Is it biblical for a church to make itself accountable to the IRS?
Is the IRS trustworthy? Is the IRS itself legitimate? Well let’s see. The Webster's Dictionary defines legitimate as: lawful; genuine; conforming to the rules, or standards. With that said, lets look at the IRS' own track record to determine its legitimacy:
The last time the Government Accounting Office even attempted to audit the IRS' books was in 1996 (they are supposed to audit the IRS every year but they are no longer able to do so). In that year, GAO audits determined that over $13 million of the taxes that the IRS collected in 1995 could not be accounted for. Thirteen-billion dollars had vanished, and the IRS offered no better explanation then to shrug their shoulders. The GAO found the IRS' books in such shambles that they declared the IRS' books to be "un-auditable." Furthermore, the IRS refused to be held accountable for the "loss."
So how could 501(c)(3) recognition from such a corrupt entity, an agency that literally holds itself to be above the law, and accountable to no one, result in "legitimacy"? It can't! IT IS BOTH UNBIBLICAL AND ILLOGICAL TO CLAIM THAT A CHURCH BECOMES "LEGITIMATE" BY RECEIVING A 501 (c)(3) STATUS.
SO WHAT IS THE SOLUTION?
For the 501(c)(3) church to openly speak out, or to organize in opposition to, anything that the government declares "legal," even if it is immoral (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, ect;), that church can and will be silenced by the government. Not to mention, they might jeopardize its tax exempt status.
The 501 (c)(3) has had a "chilling effect" upon the free speech rights of the church. LBJ was a shrewd and cunning politician who seemed to really appreciate how easy many of the clergy would sellout. In order to even be considered for tax exempt status by the IRS and organization must fill out and submit IRS Form 1023 and 1024. However, that's not what the IRS says regarding churches and church ministries, in Publication 557:
"Some organizations are not required to file Form 1023. These include:
Churches, interchurch organizations or local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as men's or women's groups, religious schools, mission society, or youth group." These organizations are exempt automatically!
The "mandatory Exception" rule makes churches exempt automatically.
Thus we see from the IRS' own publications, and tax codes, that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for tax exempt status. In the IRS' own words, a church, "is automatically tax exempt."
Many, and I do mean many, ask the question, doesn't a church still need to become a 501(c)(3) so that contributions to it can be taken as a tax deduction? The answer is (if you can't guess) is NO! According to the IRS Publication 526: Churches do not have to have a 501(c)(3) for contributions to be tax deductible.
In The IRS' own words a church is automatically tax deductible.
Or, in the words of Steve Nestor, IRS Sr. Revenue Officer (ret.),
"I am not the only IRS employee who's wondered why churches go to the government and seek permission to be exempt from a tax they didn't owe to begin with, and to seek a tax deductible status that they've always had anyway. Many of us have marveled at how church leaders want to be regulated and controlled by an agency of government that most Americans have prayed would just get out of their lives. Churches are in an amazingly unique position, but they don’t seem to know or appreciate the implications of what it would mean to be free of government control. II
Some Closing Facts ...
Churches in America organizing as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt religious organizations is a fairly recent trend. We can thank Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson for this. Johnson was no ally of the church. As part of his agenda, Johnson had it in mind to silence the church and eliminate the significant influence the church had always had on shaping "public policy."
When Johnson presented this in 1954 as a "favor" to the church, the favor also came with strings attached (more like shackles). One need not look far to see the devastating effects 501(c)(3) acceptance has had on the church, and the consequent restrictions placed upon any 501(c)(3) church.
Thanks to Rev. Mark Kiser for the article