Is your church a State run 501c3 Church?
How the church of today has been brainwashed into silence and controlled by the government and these "Nanny Boy" pastors fall right into step and help with the demise of this once great Country. Please educate yourself on this matter and take it to your pastor.
501c3 Church Facts
Most churches in America have organized as "501c3 tax-exempt religious organizations." This is a fairly recent trend that has only been going on for about fifty years. Churches were only added to section 501c3 of the tax code in 1954. We can thank Sen. Lyndon B. Johnson for that. Johnson was no ally of the church. As part of his political agenda, Johnson had it in mind to silence the church and eliminate the significant influence the church always had on shaping "public policy."
Although Johnson passed this off as a "favor" to churches, the favor also came with strings attached (more like shackles). One need not look far to see the devastating effects 501c3 acceptance has had on the church, and the consequent restrictions placed upon any 501c3 church. 501c3 churches are prohibited from addressing, in any tangible way, the vital issues of the day, and denied the right to support candidates for political office.
For a 501c3 church to openly speak out, or organize in opposition to, anything that the government declares "legal," even if it is immoral (e.g. abortion, homosexuality, etc.), that church will jeopardize its tax exempt status. The 501c3 has had a "chilling effect" upon the free speech rights of the church. LBJ was a shrewd and cunning politician who seemed to well-appreciate how easily many of the clergy would sell out and sell out they have done with gusto.
Did the church ever need to seek permission from the government to be exempt from taxes? Were churches prior to 1954 taxable? No, churches have never been taxable. To be taxable a church would first need to be under the jurisdiction, and therefore under the taxing authority, of the government. The First Amendment clearly places the church outside the jurisdiction of the civil government: "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Religion cannot be free if you have to pay the government, through taxation, to exercise it. Since churches aren't taxable in the first place, why do so many of them go to the IRS and seek permission to be tax-exempt? It occurs out of:
* Greed (“The love of money is the root of all evil”) the church in America is fully soaked in it to the gills.
* Ignorance ("We didn't know any better")
* Bandwagon logic ("Everyone else is doing it")
* Professional advice (most attorneys and CPAs recommend it)
Does the law require, or even encourage, a church to organize as a 501c3? To answer that question let's turn to what the IRS itself has to say.
Churches Need Not Apply
In order to be considered for tax-exempt status by the IRS an organization must fill out and submit IRS Form 1023 and 1024. However, note 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 of local units of a church, conventions or associations of churches, or integrated auxiliaries of a church, such as a men’s or women’s organization, religious school, mission society, or youth group. These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).
Churches Are “Automatically Tax-Exempt”
According to IRS Code § 508(c)(1)(A):
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.
(1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—
(A) Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches.
This is referred to as the "mandatory exception" rule. Thus, we see from the IRS’ own publications, and the tax code, 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.”
Churches Are “Automatically Tax-Deductible”
And what about tax-deductibility? Doesn’t a church still need to become a 501c3 so that contributions to it can be taken as a tax deduction? The answer is NO! According to IRS Publication 526:
Organizations That Qualify To Receive Deductible Contributions
You can deduct your 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.
In the IRS’ own words a church “is automatically tax-deductible.”
Churches Have a Mandatory Exception to Filing Tax Returns
Not only is it completely unnecessary for any church to seek 501c3 status, to do so becomes a grant of jurisdiction to the IRS by any church that obtains that State favor. 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 exempted 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." from the Forward of In Caesar's Grip,
by Peter Kersha (Wally’s quip: “With shekels come shackles”)
501c3 church myths
1. A church or church ministry must be 501c3 in order to avoid paying taxes.
2. A church or church ministry must be 501c3 in order to be tax deductible.
3. Churches should comply with all the laws of the land because Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Mark 12:17). Therefore, it is only right for a church to become a 501c3.
4. Being a 501c3 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.” (II Cor. 8:21)
Myths #1 & 2 have been promulgated for years by swarms of attorneys, as well as some accountants. Both myths are patently false. When it comes to legal and tax matters, most people just assume that the “licensed professionals” know what they're talking about. Little do people realize that far too many attorneys never personally study the law for themselves, and are merely parroting what they've heard other attorneys say. Once a myth gets started in the legal profession, it tends to spread like a wildfire, particularly when the myth can make a lot of money for the tens of thousands of scum bum attorneys who want to take advantage of it. We’ll debunk these myths using the IRS’ own publications.
Myth #3 is often promulgated by folks who misconstrue the statements of Jesus to justify placing His church under State authority. Theologically, this is referred to as “Erastianism,” a position that holds that the church is, and ought to be, subordinate to the State.
Myth #4 is often promulgated by those who are preoccupied with pleasing men in order to win their approval. This is problematic because it inevitably results in worldly compromise. The emphasis in Paul's teaching is first upon doing what is honest “in the sight of the Lord.” Only then are we enabled to do what is honest “in the sight of men.”
Myth #1. Tax Exempt:
The IRS has acknowledged for decades that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for a tax-exempt status. According to IRS Publication 557, as well as 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 anyway. It simply makes no sense for a church to go to the IRS and seek permission to be exempted from a tax the government can’t impose in the first place.
The church in America is protected from the government by the First Amendment:
“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 the churches in America. The IRS has no more jurisdiction over the churches in America than it does over the churches in Canada. It would be as absurd (and tyrannical) for the IRS to tax the churches in America, as it would be for the IRS to tax churches in Canada. They don't have jurisdiction.
Myth #2. Tax Deductible:
Whether or not a church or church ministry applies for and receives a “501c3 tax-exempt recognition letter” from the IRS, any contributions made to a church are “automatically qualified” as a tax write-off to the contributor, pursuant to IRS Publication 526, and IRS Code § 170(c)(2)(B).
A church does not have to be a "nonprofit charitable organization" to be tax deductible, nor does it need IRS authorization to be tax deductible. According to the IRS, churches have that status “automatically.”
Myth #3. Render To Caesar:
Jesus did indeed say, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s;” but that’s only half the verse! Jesus went on to say, “and to God the things that are God’s.” The obvious question to be asked is at what time did Jesus place His church under the authority and jurisdiction of Caesar (the State)?
Mark 12:17 is the most brilliant teaching on lawful authority and legal jurisdiction that anyone has ever uttered. We can properly interpret Jesus’ teaching in this way, “Don’t render to Caesar the things that don't belong Caesar.”
Only the "sovereign" (the supreme power) has the authority to impose a tax, and he may do so only upon his own citizen and subjects. Is the State sovereign over Jesus Christ and His body, the church? No, the civil government has no such lawful authority, biblically or constitutionally. If the civil government has the authority to tax the church, the church is a subordinate and a subject of the State.
God ordained both the church and the civil government, and has delineated their respective spheres of authority. There should be mutual accountability between the church and the State, but one is not an underling of the other.
America's Founding Fathers forever abolished the old State-Church and Church-State systems. However, those who would now advocate that the church should be subordinate to the State are, in reality, calling for a return of that old State-Church system.
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. Such thinking smacks of Erastianism.
“It should wrong our consciences.”
The clergy in America have not always been so confused on the issue of State taxation of the church. For many years it was understood that the church cannot and must not go to the State with hat in hand and ask permission to be exempted from taxes. To do so would be an admission that the church was under State jurisdiction. Instead, the church must refuse such an admission. The Rev. Isaac Backus was one such clergyman. In September of 1775 he preached a sermon to the Massachusetts Assembly in which he stated:
“Yet, as we are persuaded that an entire freedom from being taxed by civil rulers to religious worship is not a mere favor from any man or men in the world but a right and property granted us by God, who commands us to stand fast in it, we have not only the same reason to refuse an acknowledgment of such a taxing power here, as America has the above said power, but also, according to our present light, we should wrong our consciences in allowing that power to men, which we believe belongs only to God.”
Myth #4. 501c3 Status Legitimizes the Church
It's a sad commentary on the church of our day when any church feels compelled to go to sinners to seek legitimacy. The church of Jesus Christ is in no way legitimized by the license, approval, acknowledgement or permission of wicked men (those who don't appreciate how corrupt the IRS is haven't taken the time to study the public record).
For any church to submit to the IRS for 501c3 approval in an effort to be perceived by the world as being honest ("Providing for honest things"), even if it is well-intentioned is, nonetheless, completely illogical. Accountability is a good thing, but only when we make ourselves accountable to those whom the Scriptures call us to be accountable, and to those who are honest and trustworthy themselves.
Is it biblical for a church to make itself accountable to the IRS? Is the IRS honest and trustworthy? Is the IRS itself legitimate such that it can, with any genuine sense of credibility, legitimize anyone else as legitimate?
Legitimate, adj. 1. Being in compliance with the law; lawful: a legitimate business. 2. Being in accordance with established or accepted patterns and standards.
Let's examine the IRS' own track record to determine its legitimacy: The last time that the Government Accounting Office even attempted to audit the IRS' books was in 1996 (they're 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 billion of the taxes that the IRS had collected (in 1995) could not be accounted for. Thirteen-billion dollars had vanished, and the IRS offered no better explanation than to shrug their shoulders! The GAO found the IRS's books in such a shambles that they declared the IRS to be "un-auditable." Furthermore, the IRS refused to be held accountable for the "loss."
How could 501c3 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's simply illogical to hold that recognition from any agency that isn't legitimate itself could result in legitimacy.
Is “honesty” (morality) a prerequisite for 501c3 recognition? If it were, then only honest and moral groups would be approved; but that is simply not the case at all. Even just a cursory review of IRS Publication 78 (an annual list all 501c3 organizations) reveals that many thousands of 501c3's are immoral and wicked organizations. These include:
* Satanists * Wiccans * Homosexuals * Pedophiles * Pornographer * Pro-Aborts * Pagans * Atheists
* and thousands of other organizations which are hell-bent on destroying the moral fabric of this nation
Becoming a 501c3 places any church in very sordid company. It is both unbiblical and illogical to claim that a church becomes "legitimate" by receiving a 501c3 status.
“Because that for His name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.” (III John 7)
A great many of the church's problems today are a direct result of the church "taking" and actively pursuing a legal status that makes it inferior to, and a subordinate of, the civil government. The two most significant ways this occurs is by incorporation (state jurisdiction) and the tax-exempt 501c3 status (federal jurisdiction).
Scripture simply does not support the notion that the church is an inferior institution to the State. Nor, for that matter, is the church a superior institution to the State. God has ordained both the church and the civil government as His "ministers." The church is the minister of grace, while the State is the minister of justice. Church and State are two distinct and independent spheres of authority (jurisdictions) ordained by God.
However, no church can remain separate and distinct from the civil government when it incorporates and/or accepts 501c3 status. For legal purposes an incorporated 501c3 church has subordinated itself, by contract, to the civil government. For theological purposes, that church has made a covenant with the State, a covenant which Scripture in no way supports.
What is the solution to the church's current messy state of affairs? It must cease operating as an underling of the State. The solution is for the church to legally operate as it once had in America (and we might add, quite successfully so). Rather than operating as "tax-exempt nonprofit religious corporations," churches once functioned as "free-churches." Just what exactly is a free-church? A free-church operates independent of, and is in no way subordinate to, the civil government.
It is the right of any church to operate free of the corrupting and compromising influence and control of the State; and it is a right guaranteed by the Constitution:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…
A free-church is not some radical-fringe concept. Rather, the free-church was one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most common, institutions in early American history. The worldview of those men who fought for America's independence embraced an uncompromising belief that the church was not an underling, a vassal, or 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 delegated His authority to the civil jurisdiction to rule in the affairs of His church.
A free-church is the opposite of a 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 a 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.
Rather than being quick to criticize the Europeans for not attending church, we should ponder whether their contempt for the State-Church system isn't well deserved. If you're ever inclined to have a church experience that is cold, empty, meaningless and downright depressing, just attend the average European church service (it's little wonder there are so many agnostics and atheists there).
A State-Church is a church which is organized by the State, and/or is controlled and regulated by the State, or which exists at the pleasure of the State. Christians in Europe have, for a number of generations, grown up surrounded by nothing but State-Churches. As such, they are generally not offended by the notion that the State controls their church (they just don't bother to show up unless it's Christmas). It's simply a way of life for them which they generally do not question.
Americans, on the other hand, are generally offended by the notion of the State creating or controlling their churches, or that their churches would be subordinate to the State. However, this is exactly what has occurred in recent years as a direct result of churches incorporating and seeking a 501c3 status -- they have become State-Churches.
A free-church is a church that is truly separate, independent and autonomous from the State. It is established by a local body of Christian believers, or chartered or "planted" by another church body or denomination, without the permission or sanction of the State. The only "sovereign" of the free-church is the Lord Jesus Christ. A free-church cannot incorporate, it cannot seek a 501c3 status, it cannot become a tax collector for the State (withholding agent), it cannot accept government-issued tax numbers (EIN).
The term "free-church" was widely used by the American colonists. It was not a term that they coined, but one which they inherited from their fathers and forebears such as the Scottish Covenanters, and the "non-conformist" English clergy, both of whom fled the persecutions of the Anglican State-Church and it's "sovereign head" the British monarchy.
Even after American independence there continued to be Christians who fled the religious persecution of their State-Church systems for the freedom of religion America offered them. They too often used the term "free-church" to describe the churches they organized. Such an example of this would be the Evangelical Free Church, which was founded by a group of Scandinavians who settled in America in the mid-nineteenth century.
Tragically, the Evangelical Free Church In America today has become a "Free Church" in name only. By incorporating and becoming a 501c3 they, some years ago, decided to abandon those principles that their Swedish, Danish and Norwegian forefathers endured great persecution for.
Equally tragic is the demise of the so-called "Free-Church of Scotland." Were they honest it would be renamed the "State-Church of Scotland." So thoroughly has it become a State-Church that Scottish pastors receive their paychecks from the government (and it happened because the Scottish clergy insisted upon it). He who pays the piper calls the tune.
The church must cease operating as an underling, subordinate to the State, or in any way dependent upon the State for "privileges and benefits." The solution rests in the church organizing and operating as a church -- the ecclesia, not as something other than what the Lord Jesus Himself ordained and specified. Jesus spoke of the church as a “body” with Himself as the “head” of His church, and we as various “members of the body.” The church is, therefore, not an “organization” (a “legal entity”) but a living, breathing “organism.”
Repent and un-incorporate your fellowship, become what God intended, a “Free Church” standing for Jesus Christ as your head.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Richard C Wilmot, BRR
NOTE: According to the government any church that is incorporated becomes a public charity totally under the oversight of the government.