A CAREFUL VIEW OF SCRIPTURE with Regard to LGBT Questions
Complaint / Concern: Churches will be shutdown
The complaint is that various groups are trying to shutdown the church … Key here … shut down the church is their phrase. What these links actually talk about is loss of tax exempt status … This is a tad different than shutting down a church. What they (the conservatives) don’t tell you is that they have been trying to challenge this 1954 law for years.
What is the 1954 law?
The 1954 law is a restriction for 501c3 organizations (i.e. churches) on spending their money to finance political campaigns or using the pulpit to support particular candidates.
From the IRS Code...
The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
Certain activities or expenditures may not be prohibited depending on the facts and circumstances. For example, certain voter education activities (including presenting public forums and publishing voter education guides) conducted in a non-partisan manner do not constitute prohibited political campaign activity. In addition, other activities intended to encourage people to participate in the electoral process, such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, would not be prohibited political campaign activity if conducted in a non-partisan manner.
On the other hand, voter education or registration activities with evidence of bias that (a) would favor one candidate over another; (b) oppose a candidate in some manner; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention
As you can see from the above law … churches are prohibited from using their tax exempt status to support a particular political party. We may question the fairness of this. Perhaps the idea is that separation of church and state means that our tax exempt status should not be improperly used for political influence. Whatever we think about it … it’s from 1954 … before the 1960’s changes … before gay rights organizations came on the scene. By the way … it has only been used once on a church in Florida that put their name as a contributor on a political campaign sign. I should also mention that years ago … James Dobson separated his two organizations…. Focus on the Family and Focus Action because of this … The one is tax exempt the one is not so that it can have greater involvement in politics. So there are work arounds for those groups who want to be political.
Getting back to what I said earlier … Conservative Groups are trying to challenge this law and create a court case out of it.
Pulpit Freedom Sunday (see http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/pulpitfreedom) is what they are doing to try to challenge this law. Even the picture on the above referenced page is a bit biased… implying that since 1954 the IRS has controlled the church pulpit. If not allowing pastors to endorse a particular candidate from the pulpit is controlling the pulpit one must wonder how important the preaching of Christ is.
What they are asking pastors to do is to deliberately preach a political sermon to push the IRS into action against the church … then the Alliance Defending Freedom group will swing into action …. In other words the ADF is asking churches to violate the law … and get in trouble ..so they can make their case.
Simple analogy here … If I, as a Christian, break the speed limit while traveling on the highway and hang a sign out my door that says “Hey Police … I am speeding … what are you going to do about it”, I shouldn't be too surprised of someday I get arrested. When that happens it really is not appropriate to blame the devil … the liberals … the gay people … and/or alleged church hate groups for my being arrested and perhaps going to court
From the above article: "So far this year, the Pulpit Freedom movement has seen more than 1,500 pastors nationwide preach sermons that analyze the positions of various political candidates—an exercise in free speech that dates back to the foundation of the church, yet, violates a flawed Internal Revenue Service rule known as the Johnson Amendment.
More than 3,800 pastors have been part of this movement in some form or fashion since its inception in 2008. The goal is to create a court case that will challenge the constitutionality of the Johnson Amendment in court."
Its interesting to note that this movement just started in 2008. Apparently ... up until then .. . it was not a big concern.
The church has been prohibited from political action since 1954 … long before any pro gay lobby. The only time it has ever been enforced was … per the article ...
"In practice, however, the IRS rarely investigates churches for violating the political campaign ban.  The IRS has successfully used the Johnson Amendment to revoke the tax-exempt status of only one church since the law was enacted in 1954: the Church at Pierce Creek in Binghamton, NY. The church had placed a full-page advertisement in USA Today and the Washington Times four days prior to the 1992 presidential election,..."
Again … the deliberate goal of the Pulpit Freedom movement is to create a court case to challenge the 1954 Johnson Amendment … This is not a far left attack … this is multiple churches and pastors making themselves a target. No one is bringing this on except for these churches bringing it on themselves. Newsflash … if you make yourself a target by deliberately sending political sermons to the IRS and trying to create a court case you are not a victim. So while there may be groups that would love to see us lose our tax exempt status … it’s hard to pin the blame on them … when church pastors are openly taunting the IRS so they can get a court case.
And finally … being tax exempt is not a biblical right nor is it guaranteed … It is something we enjoy as part of this country. Jesus managed to get along without tax breaks (Give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s and give to God that which is God’s ) So … if this worst case scenario happens … I trust we will be OK as members of Christ's Kingdom. And ... finally ... if we do endure some hardship that is not of our own foolish doing I hope we take on the attitude of the first century Christians who counted in an honor to suffer (beating and lashes) for the sake of Christ and even cheerfully accepted the plundering of their goods because they had a better inheritance in heaven (Acts 5:40-42 and Hebrews 10:34 respectively).
What I wish would happen…
I wish certain Christian groups would stop spreading fatalism and instead spread faith. I wish we would be directed to get our eyes back on Jesus … the cattle on a thousand hills are his. I wish we would spend less time and money trying to protect ourselves by scaring other Christians and more time and money fulfilling the Great Commission.
For more research.... What follows below are sites someone gave to me when they were arguing this point that the church is under attack and will soon be a state church.