The true church at odds w/incorporated church?

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JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
When I first joined the PB, I asked a question about tax exempt status not really knowing what I was asking. Lately, I've been thinking about this again and would like to address my questions further.

The US Federal Government offers tax exempt status (501-c-3) to churches that incorporate. In my earlier thread, I questioned the validity of doing that. Since that time I've come to understand that an incorporated church is viewed as a charitable organization by the government.

Once a church incorporates, in one sense, does it not become a business rather than a church? And if so, does that not put the organized incorporated church at odds with the true church, the body of Christ?

For years, I've watched congregations break up or loose their effectiveness in the community, because they've operated more like a business than a church.

While I see in Scripture a certain organization (deacons caring for the widows, elders leading and teaching the congregation), is it possible that further organization such as organizing as a charitable business stepping outside the boundaries of Scripture?

I realize this a touchy subject, but the questions have loomed in my mind for some time.
 

timmopussycat

Puritan Board Junior
Unless your tax laws are dramatically different from what we have in Canada, a church need not be much affected by incorporating.
 

LawrenceU

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't think it is wise for a church to file and submit to 501-C3 guidelines. Churches were tax exempt before Johnson enacted that designation and remain so without it. In actuality he put the guidelines in place to silence the voice of the church in the political arena. Conservative and Catholic churches were rather significantly against LBJ when he was running for office in 1954. In effect his amendment was a gag on his opposition. Prior to 1954 no one in their right mind thought it improper for a church or minister to speak either for or against a candidate, policy, or other issue in the political / public arena.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
Another case of the corrupt magistrate attempting to corrupt the Church. Or silence her. The pennies aren't worth the price of compromise.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
In a Christian country the Church would be tax exempt and supported by the Christian State, but it wouldn't be treated like just another charity organisation. We have to beware of the State using this tax exemption as a tool to interfere in sacris, over which spiritual things it has no jurisdiction.

Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame." (Isa 49:23, ESV)

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. (Psalm 2:10-12)
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
Churches are always tax exempt under the Internal Revenue Code. They do not have to incorporate to be tax exempt.

But incorporating is a good idea for protection against civil lawsuits.

You can be a non profit corporation under state law and a church without having to file for 501(c)(3) status.

Annual Exempt Organization Return: Who Must File
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
More information can be found in this IRS publication: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p1828.pdf

Key point:
Churches that meet the requirements of IRC section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS.

It is fairly easy for a typical church to meet the requirements of 501(c)(3). Basically you must meet for worship and not be involved in commercial or political activity.
 

JBaldwin

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I don't think it is wise for a church to file and submit to 501-C3 guidelines. Churches were tax exempt before Johnson enacted that designation and remain so without it. In actuality he put the guidelines in place to silence the voice of the church in the political arena. Conservative and Catholic churches were rather significantly against LBJ when he was running for office in 1954. In effect his amendment was a gag on his opposition. Prior to 1954 no one in their right mind thought it improper for a church or minister to speak either for or against a candidate, policy, or other issue in the political / public arena.

I wonder how many churches are aware of this when they accept the 501c3 status.
 
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