501(c) That?

There are 21 Comments

James K's picture

One of Wilson's keys for the church to win is to get a republican in office.  Sigh.

How is that postmill theology working out now?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Jim's picture

We need the kind of theology that will enable organizations to continue to issue tax receipts after they are outlawed, and equip citizens to prepare their tax returns accordingly.

I won't take a tax deduction unless it is allowed by the IRS

GregH's picture

Is this article serious or tongue-in-cheek? Is he really advocating for civil disobedience over tax deductions? How is that possibly Biblical?

 

Jim's picture

GregH wrote:

Is he really advocating for civil disobedience over tax deductions? How is that possibly Biblical?

 

It's not and I am shocked he would suggest this!

 

Mark_Smith's picture

Your level of shock depends upon your view of civil disobedience (or more!). Remember, a good bit of the Civil Rights movement was "illegal". Martin Luther King Jr went to jail more than once... Also, I suppose your view of the American Revolution comes into play as well. I know from other articles that many here at SI think the Revolution was sinful. Well, that might be your view. If you think we, as members of a democracy and representative republic, have the right to petition government and resist them if they get it terribly wrong (since the power of our government comes from the consent of the governed), then it isn't so shocking.

"Live Free or Die!"

That was the saying right?

James K's picture

"Live Free or Die!"

Is this a Christian forum or an american one?

1 Kings 8:60 - so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God and that there is no other.

Mark_Smith's picture

I am both a Christian and an American.

Jim's picture

If the IRS denied tax deductibility for your church donation, would you still claim it as a deduction on your federal taxes?

 

 

Mark_Smith's picture

That is a good question Jim. Historically people took tax deductions (from when income tax was made around 1917 to 1955ish when 501c3 was created) for church donations before there was 501c3 status at all. Also, a church has an inherent tax deductibility for donations, as I understand it. So, in a sense, 501c3 for a CHURCH, and only a CHURCH, is redundant.

Now, what if the government specifically forbids tax donations for church giving? Well, no one can bring a lawsuit unless they have an interest by having the law hurt them. So, yes, I think in that case people should resist the tyranny of the government and follow through with a lawsuit. I think this is reasonable given our form of government, which is to be accountable to the people through COURTS as well as the legislative and executive branch. 

Finally, I have never in my life beaten the standard deduction, so technically I have never taken a charitable deduction.

 

GregH's picture

This is a great example of how people get America and Christianity a bit mixed up. Because for 100 years in the US, Christians have enjoyed tax deductions for charitable giving, it has somehow become a right. It will be seen as a form of persecution (Mark refers to it as tyranny) if it is taken away and a hill for Christians to die on.

The truth of course is that Christians do not have any right to tax free charitable giving either Biblically or as an American. Maybe Christians should appreciate that the government has given them that benefit for 100 years rather than deciding that the it is tyrannical for taking it away. 

I will be sad if it is taken away because it has saved me a lot of money but it is not my right to have that benefit on any level. 

Mark_Smith's picture

at least by me. I NEVER said that the Bible gives me any right of a tax exemption. What I did say is AS AN AMERICAN CITIZEN I have a right to petition my government to redress grievances. I also have the right of judicial review of legislation and policy. My argument is completely as a citizen of the US.

I will not surrender my rights given to me by God as a citizen of the United States of America. I say God gave me those rights because He lead the men to recognize those right in 1789, and He caused me to be born under them. So I will exercise them.

I will also preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. That is a separate matter.

Mark_Smith's picture

That is the government oppressing the people. Persecution (as you refer to it) is the government oppressing Christians for being Christian. I used tyranny to stay "secular" in my argument. The government oppressing churches and Christians by changing arbitrarily the tax law would be tyranny (and also persecution...). A proper response by American Christians to this tyranny would be as allowed by the Constitution. Make sense?

GregH's picture

How is changing the tax law tyranny or persecution? If we moved to the flat tax or sales tax, would that be tyranny and persecution? After all, that would kill those deductions too.

Mark_Smith's picture

a flat tax is ever going to be enacted.

GregH's picture

That is not my point is it? I am reminded more and more why I have seemingly so little in common with the right wing. 

Let's take a scenario: let's say that the government passed a law tomorrow that all practicing Christians would get a $5,000 housing allowance. Then in 20 years, they change their mind and take it away. When they change their mind, would that be tyranny? This reminds me of how some welfare recipients whine when their benefits are cut rather than being thankful that they ever got any in the first place. But that is pretty much the same scenario as what we are discussing here, no?

I think terms like tyranny and persecution are just thrown around a bit much. That is true especially within the context of the US which is a secular (no preferred religion) country by Constitutional design and yet is enormously friendly to Christianity, partly because 70% of the country claims Christianity. 

Mark_Smith's picture

because it will never be enacted... However, I think the charitable giving deduction will be disappear "soon". If Hillary makes the WH in 2016, it will happen sooner. I think states will start cutting sales tax exemptions for churches before that. I think all of those things should be opposed and fought in court, but I think ultimately we will lose UNLESS a revival breaks out in America.

GregH, I assume you know that the main tactic of the "New Atheism" is to treat Christianity like it is so absurd that only ridicule is the way to address it. It is those people who want to use taxation of churches as a way to control them. Do you see that?

Have you ever argued with a New Atheist? Have you talked to politicians who are chomping at the bit to get our tax money? Have you talked to hundreds of Millennials who scoff at Christianity? 

Do you think a charitable tax deduction for church giving is unfair? Do you think ANY charitable deduction is unfair (say $ to the Red Cross for example)?

Mark_Smith's picture

I am probably more sensitive to this topic then most because I work at a secular university. I work at a place where if you shout "I am a Christian" you will be unofficially ridiculed. I have no friends at work. None. There is no one else who is a "real" Christian.

Instead, I am surrounded by many homosexuals. Have of the heterosexual couples aren't married (but get work benefits). They opening mock Christianity regularly. Almost every employee has attended "LGBT ALLY" training and have a pink sticker on their door. I do not.

So, I see what these people want. i know what they think. I am in touch with it more than I am fellow believers...

Greg Long's picture

GregH wrote:

How is changing the tax law tyranny or persecution? If we moved to the flat tax or sales tax, would that be tyranny and persecution? After all, that would kill those deductions too.

Whether or not it is "tyranny," it is certainly persecution if the law is changed in a way that adversely affects Christians specifically for their Christian beliefs, and does not adversely affect others in the same way. There are plenty of hypothetical scenarios that can be imagined that could be used to prove the point. What if those who work for organizations who won't affirm gay marriage no longer are allowed to make any business-related tax deduction--mileage, etc, etc.? What if it turns from deductions being removed into actual penalties?

Of course the government has every right to do that, and we as Christians have every right to use every legal means (just as Paul did by appealing to Caesar, etc.) to protest/overcome unjust laws that are established.

The question is, whether we should undertake illegal means to overcome unjust laws. I'm not sure that Wilson has convinced me that we should do that in this specific (currently hypothetical) scenario.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Mark_Smith's picture

you guys here at SI tend to think in terms of ministry, but what about your parishioners?

Let's assume "sexual identity and SSM, etc" gets added to the Civil Rights Act. Or perhaps it already is in their state. They are at work. A conversation starts about SSM. They comment that they don't believe in it. They are then fired because because the employer doesn't want them around because they are a "bigot". Compare that to what happened to the Mozilla CEO who was let go after just a few weeks because he DONATED to the anti-SSM proposition in California.

This stuff is coming. In "short order" saying "I oppose Same-Sex Marriage" will be seen by your employer as the same as saying "I hate black people".