“Render unto Caesar… “

Section 501(c)(3) is the portion of the US Internal Revenue Code that allows for federal tax exemption of nonprofit organizations, specifically those that are considered public charities, private foundations, which includes churches and para-church organizations.

Seems innocuous enough, even benevolent. If you are a church it is neither.

As a disclaimer of sorts, I have been a church-goer on and off through my adult life, however. I no longer attend. It’s not that I dislike churches, necessarily. It’s not a philosophical issue. It’s not a religious issue. I’m not in rebellion. I am not anti-church. Like many people I know and know of, I just don’t fit.

One of things that I have long questioned is why churches find it necessary to rely on a government hand out. Jesus made it pretty clear. “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s.” So why shouldn’t a church pay taxes on it’s income? Wouldn’t it be a good testimony to the non-believing community? Don’t the churches avail themselves of the infrastructure provided by the government via our tax dollars? Shouldn’t they pay their fair share? It’s not like 510(c)(3) is chapter and verse from the scriptures. It was passed into law in 1954.

In order to avail themselves of this hand out churches must apply and incorporate. In so doing the churches give the government the legal right to tell them how to do their business. Thus the Johnson Amendment, added in 1964, prevented churches from speaking forth on political issues from the pulpit lest they endanger their 501(c)(3) status. In other words the silence from the pulpit on issues like abortion was bought and paid for. You would think that history has taught us that it is never a good thing for the church to get in bed with the government. How many examples do we need? Yet, here we are again.

Let’s be clear. The “church” never has been about a building or an institution or an organization. This too shall pass. The day will come when the organic church will rise again, not out of prosperity, not with assistance from the governing authorities, but rather out of need, whether it be financial or otherwise. The day of using God’s name in vain by applying the “Jesus Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” to building programs and man’s agendas will come to an end. Judgment will begin with the house of God. Don’t be surprised, be ready. The life of the “church” is found in its members, not in a top down organizational structure. If you’re not meeting with a group of local believers in a home, start or start your own, even if you’re currently attending a church. It’s not hard. Have a meal together and take Jesus up on his promise that where two or three are gathered… The day is coming and may now be.

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