American Churches Subject to State Control
The original colonists wanted to serve God as they understood Him, but they were hounded by England to serve their state-controlled church.
In America today the conditions are even worse than they were in England several centuries ago – but far more subtle. The 501.c.3 corporation status is permission by the state for churches to be tax exempt. This makes churches subject to whatever level of state control they are willing to sell for this financial benefit.
Since the 501.c.3 category was established, participants have been forbidden to speak of politics. So from the outset, “legal” churches have agreed to limit the expression of their beliefs. The state grants them permission to obey God in everything, except politics, and such churches have agreed.
This is a strategic historical issue in that the churches were intimately involved in the political activism which ultimately overthrew the British. Later, King George himself lamented that he had been defeated by what he called “the black brigade” – a reference to America’s clergy.
Even today, numerous politicians bent on destroying moral foundations have complained about the political power weilded by Christians.
In recent years additional demands have been added. Among them is the fact that Church records are now subject to the “Freedom of Information Act”, and any individual donation exceeding a certain amount per year must have a church receipt in order to deduct it from their income tax. It is now impractical to give to churches anonymously.
On the surface, there would appear to be no problem with such increased exposure. A church should be an example of innocence and purity. In reality however, active churches are bombarded with unexpected and deeply personal emergencies. In such cases a publicly viewable money trail can bring catastrophic exposure to people in desperate and dangerous situations. It can expose those seeking help and refuge from abusers. The church has been seduced into prostituting its ministry for the drug of tax exemption.
It is time for churches to leave the limitations of state control (i.e. refuse tax exemption), and to serve God with a clear conscience. “Serving God” by permission of the state is fast becoming “serving God as an agent of the state. So what do we do?
That’s a good question, but not the first one we need to answer. The first questions should deal with one’s willingness, faith, and courage to obey God. The pilgrims were obedient to God before they physically moved. They were basically a subculture with Godly standards, in a compromised world. Such is the calling of every believer. At the very least, new ministries should seriously question the wisdom of non-profit status
Ideally, the leadership of a local church should have the courage to fear God more than man, and break free from the limitations of the 501.c.3. Properly done, this could leave the congregation and church property more or less in tact, and still tax free. But that should not affect a decision to fully serve God. If the leaders are fearful, the individuals are still accountable before God to speak as He would direct. God has called many to stand against the corruption we see in politics today. This involves exposing candidates by name and character, and issues by moral impact. If this jeopardizes a church’s tax exempt status, then the church needs to decide whether they are going to serve God or money.