Is It Biblical for Churches to Take Government Benefits?

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by kirkguardian, Mar 24, 2004.

  1. kirkguardian

    kirkguardian
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    </font>
    • Because that for his name’s sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles. (3 John 1:7)</font>
    Churches today are very much in the habit of taking government benefits, but is it biblical to do so? There is a reason why the early church was in the habit of "taking nothing of the Gentiles." It's because they so-well understood that it would ruin their testimony of Christ.

    How could they on one hand claim that "The Lord Jesus Christ is our provider," and yet in the other hand take State benefits? They couldn't and they didn't.

    Yet today, most churches are taking State privileges and benefits. For example, most churches have applied for the IRS 501c3 tax exempt status. This is misguided both theologically and even legally.

    It's misguided legally because even the IRS has always stated that "churches are exempt automatically and are automatically tax deductible" without ever having to apply for 501c3 status.

    There's some very useful information available on this subject at http://hushmoney.org
     
  2. Elijah

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    I would have to say that for a church to accept government benefits would be a recipe for disaster. In my opinion this would
    fall under separation of church and state. To put it this way, if a church takes government benefits, does not the government then have some control over the church? :confused: Just a thought.
     
  3. Johnv

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    Is It Biblical for Churches to Take Government Benefits?

    People will generally say no, until they realize that tax exempt status is a government benefit.
     
  4. Pastor Larry

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    Tax exempt status is not a government benefit. Some tried to make that case years ago to the federal court system and it failed since the courts determined tax exemption is not a government benefit.

    As for 501C3, officially churches are not 501c3 unless they apply. They are recognized with the benefits of 501c3, but they are not officially 501c3. There is a slight difference. I know because I inquired about it several years ago when we got a non-profit bulk mail permit.
     
  5. gb93433

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    My understanding is that the 501C3 limits the church's liability. Many insurance companies will not insure a chruch that is not 501C3.

    Let me add a little fuel to the fire. Would you take money from a church member that overcharges people or cheats his customers?
     
  6. TC

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    No, it is not a government benefit - just as our freedoms we have are not given to us by the government as many people now say. It is just a way for the government to get involved in the churches business.
     
  7. Pastor Larry

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    How does tax exemption give the government a way to get involved in church's business??? It actually keeps them out of it. If a church paid taxes, then the church would have to show income, and show sources of income. They would liable for audits, etc.

    Tax exemption prevents the government from having any say in how a church is run. They do not even have to know what a church's receipts are.
     
  8. Pastor Larry

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    We just changed insurance companies. That subject didn't even come up. I have never heard of that. I don't know of anything in 501c3 that limits liability. Do you have any more info on that?

    In our setup, I would never know this is happening. I don't know what anybody in the church gives except for me. If it came to my attention that a church member was cheating people, I would certainly address it with them. Overcharging is a bit of a difficult situation. How does one overcharge in a free market? If someone doesn't want to pay it, then they don't have to. But likewise, if this was a problem that I knew about, I would address it. I wouldn't turn their money down. I would call them to do right.
     
  9. TC

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    Churches have never paid taxes in America - they have always been tax free. That 501c3 garbage was started in the 1950's as a way to gain control of churches - just ask that one that was shut down and invaded by the feds not that long ago. My pastor said in a sermon last year that he could not say certain things because he was afraid that the church would lose its 501c3 status and would be in a world of hurt. That could not happen if they wouldn't have bowed to the state.
     
  10. Bro. James Reed

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    When our church opened a new bank account last year, we had to file for 501c3 tax-exempt status. We had not done so in over 10 years. It is not required unless the church ever wants a bank account, or ever has to do any other legal business.

    When the church gets involved with anything that the government has some control over, they will need to fill out the form to become "officially" tax-exempt, though they have already been.

    How is not taxing churches "becoming involved" with the church's business? I would say it's the other way around. If the government started charging taxes to churches, then the government would be involved. As it stands, the government can not become involved in the church, therefore it can not collect taxes.
     
  11. Jeffrey H

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    When churches begin accepting government benefits, then trouble is just around the corner.

    As a former church treasurer, I saw the need to have 501c3 status to avoid problems and to make sure your church is legally recognized as "non-profit" for tax deduction purposes. If you don't have 501c3 status, church members will get into trouble if they try to deduct offerings/gifts on their taxes.

    Being a church does not automatically make "non profit" status; you must apply for it.
     
  12. Pastor Larry

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    We have bank accounts (several in fact) and have never had any problems with not being officially 501c3. I have never heard of any church having problems. The church that was shut down in Indiana (I presume that is what you are talking about) had nothing to do with being 501c3. It had to do with paying payroll taxes, something different than church taxes. As far as 501c3 and tax deductions, again, I have never heard of any problem with that at all. Frankly, I don't know everything so maybe someone has had problems. But I have never heard of it. I only know of one church that is officially 501c3 and the pastor told me he knew they didn't have to be but decided to anyway.

    The only government forms we file are the 941 (for my salary and withholdings) and the form to get the tax exempt number.

    I have never been the least bit afraid to say anything from the pulpit. I don't understand that mindset, but I am not sure he was talking about.
     
  13. Pastor Larry

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    BTW, as for filing for tax exempt status, I think you just simply have to show you are a church by producing church material, such as bulletins, business meeting minutes, budgets, stuff like that. It is to keep someone from setting up a "church" that really has no church functions.
     
  14. TC

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    If people give to get a tax deduction, then that is their reward. Sounds like they need to check their motivation for giving.

    A church is tax exempt automatically - which is what I said. By filing for 'non profit' status, you incorporate which makes the church an entity of the state. I.E. The state is now head of the church and can exercise control over it. Just because the state has not done that yet, doesn't mean that the state never will. As more and more church haters come into leadership positions, you will see the state take more control. The end result is that those who sold out for temporary benefits today will be in a world of hurt later.
     
  15. Dr. Bob

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    This thread was started in a "baptist only" discussion area by a non-baptist. I will allow it to stand, as it is a greatly misunderstood area (as seen in the original post).

    But remind all this "General BAPTIST Discussion" area is for Baptists!
     
  16. Ed Edwards

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    Discression is the better part of valor


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  17. computerjunkie

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    Discretion is the better part of valor.

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  18. Ed Edwards

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    That is easy for you to say,
    you have SPELLCHECKER [​IMG]

    Dis-creation is tearing-up Jack. [​IMG]
     
  19. computerjunkie

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    Don't have spellchecker.

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  20. kirkguardian

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    It most certainly is a government benefit, as well as a government "privilege." Furthermore, the courts have consistently held that tax exemption is "a matter of legislative grace, and not a constitutional right" Parker v. Commissioner, 365 F2d 792 at 795 Your understanding of the federal case law is 180 degrees out of sync with reality:
    </font>
    • "...tax exemption is a privilege, a matter of grace rather than right..." Christian Echoes National Ministry, Inc. v. United States, 470 F2d 849 at 857</font>


    This is no "slight difference" but a huge difference. Obtaining 501c3 status from the IRS subjugates and subordinates that church to the IRS. Churches are non-taxable, not tax exempt. Why would any church want to subordinate itself to the IRS for a crumby government "privilege" and "benefit" it doesn't need in the first place?


    _________________
    Free the 501c3 church!
     

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