If Christianity and truth are anything, they are fanatical. I can’t think of anything more antithetical to spiritual reality than apathy. And I have a question – where have all the fanatics gone?
Of course, I mean fanatics for truth.
God saved me when I was 16 years old, and if I saw anything, it was that God wanted me to put truth ahead of all else.
I was blessed to be able to meet with fellow Christians at high school before school began for “First Priority,” “Fellowship of Christian Students,” “Rally Around the Flag,” or other spontaneous events. I remember with great fondness singing Christian songs for the first time, and the camaraderie of young believers wanting to live for Christ in the midst of a pretty wicked public school.
In high school, I recall friends standing up in class to share their faith, someone running for school president in order to share the Gospel, and us Christians trying to witness to fellow students not infrequently.
I remember meeting around the flag pole at lunch regularly to meditate on the Bible with a few other Christians.
We believed strongly in justification by faith and eternal security. We naturally had, by God’s grace, a good degree of holiness. And there was absolutely no question that we were politically conservative. Liberalism was seen as the very devil from hell, and rightfully.
Of course in college we Christians went various different directions for further education/vocation. I found a church where I was at college that was extremely radical. I had a question mark about them since they taught conditional security, but when I asked, they said they believed in “salvation by grace through faith,” which would “naturally result in good works.” There was so much good that, after studying the Scriptures, I genuinely believed they had the truth on the subject.
Again, this was a group of radicals. They preached the Word like they meant it, sang enthusiastically, preached open-air, dressed very modestly, believed in charismatic gifts, and again, were politically conservative. The preacher was very godly and mined the Scriptures like no one else I’ve ever heard.
But problems began to arise, somehow. I doubted my salvation about two years into being there, and had a tremendous time trying to overcome that. On top of that, political liberalism and bullying started to infect the church about that time (not from the preacher, but among the group). Then Obama came to power, and things got horrible. In 2013 the pastor died, and the two people he left in charge took over.
In April of 2015, fourteen years after joining that church, I fell and broke my back. One of the leaders suggested it was God’s punishment for me commending Ted Cruz online. He asked me to say nothing good about conservatives, and nothing bad about the Democrat party. The other leader was more forceful, and told me not to come back, unless I had a thorough change-of-mind and agree to not commend any conservatives online. I could commend them “in my heart,” but not online.
Well, that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. What insanity to be asked to say nothing good about conservatives!
And what is sad is that, to date, no one has stood with me on this. Either the rest of the people in the church do not know what was asked of me, or have decided to side with the insane requirement to say nothing good of conservatives (at least online!). That’s extremely sad, because all of these people once stood for conservatism, and as much as they may hate it, there are corollary things to standing for Jesus. Early Christians were persecuted for preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead – they were preaching a doctrine (resurrection of believers) and were persecuted for that, not just for standing for Jesus. And I’m sorry, but a conservative outlook goes hand-in-hand with believing in Jesus. When someone goes along with the requirement to say nothing good of conservatives, they are denying Jesus in my opinion. And that’s sad, because these were my closest of friends.
And so now I’m asking, “Where have all the fanatics gone?” Where are people that are on fire for Jesus, for purity, for eternal security, for conservatism? Where are fanatics for the truth? Where are the people who see value in being an “outcast” from the world, as Jesus was, in order to stand for truth? Has the entirety of sincere Christians bought the Obama mess? I’m hoping to see revival, and a restoration of people that are fanatical, not for Islam, not for Democrats, but for the true Gospel!
Have you ever heard someone say, “We can’t preach on politics because of our 501c3 status”? Well, I’m unsettled to hear that a preacher “cannot” preach on something that, to me, is one of the most important things of our day. So I decided to do a bit of study on the subject, because if preachers can’t preach the truth, what’s the point of being a preacher?
Most people have probably heard the weird term, “501c3.” In short, it’s a part of the IRS tax code that specifies that tax-exempt organizations cannot support or oppose any political candidate, and cannot surpass a “lobbying ceiling amount” which is basically 20% of their expenditures.
So the question arises:
“Can 501c3 Churches Preach on Politics?”
To my reading of the tax code, it appears that indeed they can preach on politics, but they have to stop shy of supporting or opposing any individual candidate. In other words, they can preach against how it is evil for the Democrat party to support abortion, but they can’t say it’s evil to vote for Barack Obama.
Well, I think a more fundamental question arises: “Is it possible for a preacher to be faithful to God without preaching a full-orbed, unfettered message that shuns from touching neither politics nor politicians?” And of course the answer to that is a resounding, “No!”
Could John the Baptist be John the Baptist if he agreed (for a substantially greater amount of locusts and wild honey per annum!) not to point his bony finger at King Herod and reprove him for his incestuous adultery? I think not (Luke 3:7-9). Could Jesus have been Jesus if He agreed to keep the four-drachma coin from the fish’s mouth if the temple tax collectors had offered Him exemption for not speaking against the Pharisees? Never (Matthew 17:24-27)!
So how comes it that preachers are afraid, not just of commending good politicians (a near oxymoron), but of speaking in broad generalities against the evils of abortion, gay marriage, living together, or socialized medicine?
I think God has had enough. If a preacher is not willing to preach all the truth, and as Martin Luther would point out, especially that particular portion of truth which is most unpopular and most attacked at that moment, then they’re not worthy of the name, “pastor.”
“Where Did This Limitation of Free Speech Come From?”
The prohibition on political campaign intervention did not become part of the Internal Revenue Code until 1954, when an amendment to section 501(c)(3) was introduced by then-Senator Lyndon B. Johnson during a Senate floor debate on the 1954 Internal Revenue Code. The prohibition was added to the code without hearings, testimony or comment by any tax-exempt organizations. Although there is no legislative history to indicate definitively why Johnson sought enactment of the political campaign intervention prohibition, neither is there any evidence that the prohibition was targeted at political campaign intervention by religious organizations.
I have a question. Why isn’t anyone talking about repealing this awful amendment to 501c3 so that preachers may have freedom of speech in their pulpits, while still maintaining tax-exempt status? Shouldn’t our government encourage morality by offering preachers of the Gospel tax-exempt status without twisting their arm and asking them to not prophesy at Bethel, for “it is the king’s chapel, and it is the king’s court” (Amos 7:12-14)? Any preacher worth his salt will reply just as Amos did to this governmental attempt at manipulation of his or her message:
Then answered Amos, and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet’s son; but Iwas an herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit: And the LORD took me as I followed the flock, and the LORD said unto me, Go, prophesy unto my people Israel. Now therefore hear thou the word of the LORD: Thou sayest, Prophesy not against Israel, and drop not thy word against the house of Isaac. Therefore thus saith the LORD; Thy wife shall be an harlot in the city, and thy sons and thy daughters shall fall by the sword, and thy land shall be divided by line; and thou shalt die in a polluted land: and Israel shall surely go into captivity forth of his land.
What did Amos do when the government pressure threatened to squeeze him outside of God’s will? He doubled down and increased the heat of his message by delivering a terrifying prophesy to the king for his antichrist actions!
If you as a preacher think it’s too “political” to hope to change a Democrat’s amendment to an IRS rule, you’d better at least be prepared to do whatever it takes, including paying lots of taxes, in order to speak the truth. But if you compromise, and agree to dilute your message, I’m not impressed, and I don’t think the younger generation is, either. And I know that God is not impressed.
The Boring Legal Stuff – “What Is the Exact Language of 501c3?”
If you’re interested enough to actually read the tax code, it’s fairly short – at least 501c3 is extremely short, but it references 501h, which is longer and harder to understand. Here’s 501c3, from Cornell University Law School:
Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.
The reference to 501h is rather confusing, but it basically means that tax-exempt churches cannot spend more than 20% of their budget on “lobbying or grassroots expenditures.” If they spend astronomical amounts above $500,000, there’s a sort of bracketed decrease in the percentage of expenditures that can be political, and it caps at some $1 million, if I understood it aright. So here’s 501h:
Expenditures by public charities to influence legislation
In the case of an organization to which this subsection applies, exemption from taxation under subsection (a) shall be denied because a substantial part of the activities of such organization consists of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation, but only if such organization normally—
(A)makes lobbying expenditures in excess of the lobbying ceiling amount for such organization for each taxable year, or
(B)makes grass roots expenditures in excess of the grass roots ceiling amount for such organization for each taxable year.
For purposes of this subsection—
The term “lobbying expenditures” means expenditures for the purpose of influencing legislation (as defined in section 4911(d)).
(B)Lobbying ceiling amount
The lobbying ceiling amount for any organization for any taxable year is 150 percent of the lobbying nontaxable amount for such organization for such taxable year, determined under section 4911.
(C)Grass roots expenditures
The term “grass roots expenditures” means expenditures for the purpose of influencing legislation (as defined in section 4911(d) without regard to paragraph (1)(B) thereof).
(D)Grass roots ceiling amount
The grass roots ceiling amount for any organization for any taxable year is 150 percent of the grass roots nontaxable amount for such organization for such taxable year, determined under section 4911.
(3)Organizations to which this subsection applies
This subsection shall apply to any organization which has elected (in such manner and at such time as the Secretary may prescribe) to have the provisions of this subsection apply to such organization and which, for the taxable year which includes the date the election is made, is described in subsection (c)(3) and—
(A)is described in paragraph (4), and
(B)is not a disqualified organization under paragraph (5).
(4)Organizations permitted to elect to have this subsection apply
An organization is described in this paragraph if it is described in—
(B)section 170(b)(1)(A)(iii) (relating to hospitals and medical research organizations),
(C)section 170(b)(1)(A)(iv) (relating to organizations supporting government schools),
(D)section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (relating to organizations publicly supported by charitable contributions),
(E)section 509(a)(2) (relating to organizations publicly supported by admissions, sales, etc.), or
(F)section 509(a)(3) (relating to organizations supporting certain types of public charities) except that for purposes of this subparagraph, section 509(a)(3) shall be applied without regard to the last sentence of section 509(a).
For purposes of paragraph (3) an organization is a disqualified organization if it is—
(B)an integrated auxiliary of a church or of a convention or association of churches, or
(C)a member of an affiliated group of organizations (within the meaning of section 4911(f)(2)) if one or more members of such group is described in subparagraph (A) or (B).
(6)Years for which election is effective
An election by an organization under this subsection shall be effective for all taxable years of such organization which—
(A)end after the date the election is made, and
(B)begin before the date the election is revoked by such organization (under regulations prescribed by the Secretary).
(7)No effect on certain organizations
With respect to any organization for a taxable year for which—
(A)such organization is a disqualified organization (within the meaning of paragraph (5)), or
(B)an election under this subsection is not in effect for such organization,
nothing in this subsection or in section 4911 shall be construed to affect the interpretation of the phrase, “no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation,” under subsection (c)(3).
For rules regarding affiliated organizations, see section 4911(f).
Disclaimer: This is my understanding of what the tax code appears to be saying, but you are liable for your own conclusions. I disclaim liability.
If you haven’t yet heard, Kim Davis just got released from jail! I know lots of people are excited about it!
Here’s a short video of Pastor Greg Locke giving his thoughts on the event. Excellent overview! When Christians unite, and are not ashamed, NOT JUST OF THE GOSPEL, but of things that are corollary to the Gospel, such as #ReligiousLiberty, or #Conservatism, things happen.#KimDavis is out of jail,