• Share

Why "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" misses the point

It has become an exercise in free speech and a challenge to the federal government. "Pulpit Freedom Sunday," the birth child of the group Alliance Defending Freedom, is designed to challenge the 50-year-old Johnson Amendment (501 c 3), which prohibits tax-exempt charities from publicly endorsing or opposing a candidate for office or working on their behalf. On Sunday, October 7, pastors who choose to participate will stand in the pulpit and endorse and/or oppose candidates for office—and no doubt focus on the presidential candidates themselves. Pastors who participate are to preach on the election, endorse a candidate for office, and send a video copy of the sermon to the IRS. The ultimate goal of "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" is to force the Johnson Amendment back into court consideration so that it will be declared unconstitutional.

I suppose in one respect from the perspective of American history, these pastors have a point. Up until the Johnson Amendment pastors did wade into politics from the pulpit and often in quite a robust way. I have two large volumes in small print on my book shelf entitled, Political Sermons of the American Founding Era. There is no doubt that nation state politics was fair game in the founding years of America, which makes sense. One does not need an amendment to the tax codes prohibiting politics in the pulpit if no one is preaching on politics.

So I understand the point, but for this preacher who stands in the pulpit every Sunday, "Pulpit Freedom Sunday" misses the point. Indeed, it more than misses the point: it undermines and distorts the preaching of the gospel and the very character of the gospel itself.

First, I have never endorsed a candidate from the pulpit nor will I ever do so, and it has nothing to do with a concern that the church will lose its tax exempt status. I could care less about that. The gospel is not a commodity. No one will buy my silence nor my voice with a threat over money.

Second, I don't think most of my parishioners care in the least who I vote for nor do they want to hear why I am voting for a particular candidate from the pulpit. That is not why they are there. I am not going to waste their time with irrelevancies.

Third, the gospel is true freedom, which only the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ can secure. I don't need the Alliance Defending Freedom on one hand, nor Americans United for the Separation of Church and State on the other, telling me that obeying the law or defying it is necessary for the freedom of religion. The gospel is inherently liberating in the fullest sense of the term, legislation and tax codes notwithstanding. I will preach the gospel of Jesus Christ from the pulpit and I don't need the state defining for me what that does and does not mean, nor do I need a group of pastors telling me that if I do not endorse a candidate from the pulpit I am allowing the state to muzzle me. And that leads me to my fourth point, which I mentioned above.

Pulpit Freedom Sunday misses the point when it comes to the proclamation of the gospel itself. Not only that, it undermines and distorts the very nature of the gospel. The Good News is about Jesus Christ who comes as King and brings the Kingdom. This kingdom reorders the lives of its citizens, including in the realm of politics. The politics of the kingdom is manifest in and through the church. The church is a politic that is to bear witness to the nations of the intrusive, transforming, and redemptive ways of God in this world in Jesus Christ. Every Sunday when I stand in the pulpit to preach, I am being political. Have I ever endorsed a candidate from the pulpit? Nope. Have I ever endorsed the platform of a particular political party? Hardly. But every Sunday I preach politics because I proclaim cross and resurrection and the new community, the new polity, they bring. To proclaim that Jesus is Lord is a political claim that puts all other leaders on notice. To affirm that God's kingdom has arrived in Jesus Christ is a warning that all earthly kingdoms are on borrowed time. To speak of church is to remind the people of God that the church is God's politic, that it is the vehicle by which the God's kingdom is at work.

The church of Jesus Christ and its mission in the world is where the political action is; it is not to be found in the nation state. When Christians hear the word "politics," they should think "church," not "state." It is wrong to endorse a candidate from the pulpit, not because of some vague and amorphous notion of separation of church and state. It is wrong because it makes the state God's replacement kingdom and takes the center of the church's worship off of King Jesus and focuses instead on an earthly leader who will die, along with his empire (if he is elected) that will one day crumble.

I preach real politics--Jesus, cross, resurrection, church, kingdom-- and I refuse to substitute such proclamation for second-rate presidential endorsements. The gospel is about Jesus and nothing less. If the gospel becomes less than that from the pulpit, it is not the gospel; and those entrusted with the message are responsible and accountable for what they say. It is a dangerous thing to lead people away from the kingdom politics of Jesus, and political endorsements from the pulpit do just that.

Barack Obama may win a second term as president. Mitt Romney may win a first. Whatever the outcome of the election, Jesus will still be Lord just as he has always been. On the Sunday after the election, I will be proclaiming the same gospel I did the Sunday before.

There are those who think candidates for political office are too important to ignore from the pulpit. I say they are not significant enough to mention.

Originally posted at Bevere's blog

Join the Conversation

Comments

I'm not going to I endorse

I'm not going to I endorse any candidate either. Thanks for this entry though, it was very interesting

Ellison, midi player 

Why Bevere and Most Evangelical Christians Miss the Point

I have heard the argument before, that the only thing that matters, that really matters, is preaching the gospel, that Christians need not concern themselves with politics, policies, and government because they are ultimately not on earth for these things, but to instead “save souls.” I am an atheist, and I must say here that this sort of thinking is pure hogwash to me.

As an atheist of the negative variety, I do not reject the gospel. I simply have no concern for it because I have never seen it in action where the Christian Church is concerned. Yes, I have seen kind people who purport to be Christians. But I have seen just as many kind Jews, Hindi, and Buddhists. I have attended a Unitarian Church full of apparent atheists and found them even kinder than the Christians I have known, and I have known many, since I grew up in the Christian Church. One can preach the gospel until one drops dead from exhaustion, but as an atheist, I must have evidence of the gospel’s power if I am to believe it.

I don’t need much. You people claim to know The God of All Reality, the Glory of All Possible Glory, The Ultimate Might Besides Which No Other Might Can Exist, The Very Definition of Good, The One Who Reaches Down with Pity for Lost Men. You claim to know this delicious God. Indeed, you claim to converse with Him. You claim to have a personal relationship with Him.

It is all lies. We atheists watch you closely because we are people of evidence. Many of us understand that “signs and wonders” are insufficient to prove God because once such things appear before us, we cannot help but investigate how they appear, and that necessarily means we must doubt God. The fascinating thing about your God is that He understands this and therefore demands repeatedly that we come to Him only by faith. Indeed, He is virulently inaccessible except through faith, and I actually see why this must be the case.

Still, if God is as sumptuous as your scriptures claim, and if you claim to know him (as billions of you now do), then it is rational to expect that those who have come in touch with such power would be radically changed by it AS A GROUP. Jews have plenty examples of drunks who came back to Judaism to find a clean life. The same is true of all faiths. But when I look at Jews, I see no difference in them than I see in any others, especially including Christians. If the Church represents those who have personally come in contact with The Beauty that Reigns Above All Possible Beauties, then the Church should be radically different from all other human groups. And there is just no excuse for anything else. After all, you claim to know God Himself.

As I look to the Church and see you in sincerity, I conclude that the Church is just a bunch of liars like I am. Indeed, unlike the Church, I know I am a liar, a cheat, and a thief, one who is innately unworthy of Something that is like the God you people claim to know, but that you obviously do not know. I know that it is simply impossible for me to exist with Such an Exceptional Thing. But I love the Idea of Him – and I am absolutely incensed that you, who claim to love not merely the idea, but the actual God Himself, are so worthless that you would not be at least likewise incensed when a worldwide leader comes along to declare that God is something as nauseatingly filthy as the god of Mormonism.

Your God declares that He is The Ultimate Annihilation and The Ultimate Defense All at the Same Time. He is Unfathomable Hatred and Unfathomable Love All in One. He is Three Persons Simultaneously Radiating Through all Realities as One Being. And He declares, REPEATEDLY, that He is jealous of this identity and that besides Him there is none else. Yet Mitt Romney declares that God is something wholly different than this – that God is just some guy who lived a good life, and who eventually became a god, and who has come to exist as ruler of his own universe with his many wives in the same way that millions of others gods have come to exist in their own universes with their many wives. And yet this is the leader who many of you, even now, eagerly seek to raise up before your children, before all the nations, and before God Himself, as your representative. You sicken me. You pastors are a literal stench even to the idea of God. Surely you are a stench to The Actual God of All.

No one who knows the real God of Infinite Infinites can even think of defaming Him as you people now do. But you are headlong in this defamation and you actually think you can go on doing this while preaching a “gospel.” The gospel you preach is worthless. If anyone is saved it is not because of it, but in spite of it. If anyone is saved it is because The God of Never-ending Love (I need mercy because I am bitterly angry against all of you) has decided to step over you and save people Himself.

You claim that preaching the gospel is all that matters. You who say this are liars and the truth is not in you. The object of your gospel is what really matters. The christ of your gospel is what matters first and foremost because if it is the worthless christ that permits you to so easily overlook God’s Glory in the way you now do, then that gospel is every bit as worthless as the Mormon gospel. Christ came so that we might see the Glory of the God Who is otherwise invisible. Those who now chase after a leader who blasphemes that Glory,a cultist who literally denies the peculiar Glory of God, prove that they still cannot see Him. And this is merely another way of saying that it proves they do not know Christ.

But if the Gospel you preach commandeers your lives so that YOU REFUSE to defame God and His Son come life or death (or the loss of a silly tax-exemption), if it takes control of your lives so that you stand together in love of Who He Is, regardless of policies that change with each administration, well, that sort of power will be obvious to atheists like me. Indeed, it would be obvious to everyone. We would have no explanation for it, except that perhaps you are being motivated by a real God and not by the lies that you people tell every single filthy day.

You are meaningless people. Your protests for “freedom” are meaningless. You are protesting for freedom to advance a candidate, and this is a freedom you should have, but if you use it to advance a candidate who actually redefines and denies the Holy Identity of God, raising up before yourselves this filthy angel of light as your leader (!), then you are damnable –worthless –you do not know God, and therefore you cannot love Him.

IN GOD WE TRUST trust

That began in 1863 with the Greenbacks and US notes - fiat currency in America. That is when the tax year began too:

http://img268.imageshack.us/img268/6479/conventionextraordinary.jpg

Maybe you are starting to get this. Maybe not. All I am saying is that you still have the alternative of NOT speaking politics from the pulpit. When pastors speak politics from the pulpit they do not last very long at all.

https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1EaV_bU7VImYmU2N2YyMDEtM2QxYS00OTYwLWEwMTgtOGU0M2Q0Y2ZhNGQ5/edit

What is pleasing to the LORD is not very pleasing to the Treasury pulpit managed by the collections arm, the IRS.

"A false balance is an abomination to the LORD but a just weight is His delight." Proverbs 11:1

All I am telling you is that getting arrested is not the solution. Neither is destroying your congregation with IRS problems, especially if you inform yourselves from the links above and can no longer deny your confession of defying your master. It is clearly against Paul's doctrine at Romans 13 - Paul who for all intents and purposes invented the Roman Welfare State running to Felix for protection from the Sanhedrin...

Some Insight!

Take a look at this money:

http://img714.imageshack.us/img714/6742/redeemedbills.jpg

Then Ponder this post from the brain trust (The Good Church):

 

"

I still chuckle when I think about 12usc411. We have reams and reams of statutes and codes on how to use their 'money' but when it comes to LM we have 1. Simple. Now to redeem something means to have the right to buy back whatever was sold into bondage (at least this is my understanding). Usually it required a kinsman redeemer to do so. Do we need one? Or at least a witness?

The Demand seems to be the payment to redeem the private credit to public money. So if we use private credit are we operating in the public? I don't think so. So we are considered to be in a private realm therefore not in office making our flesh vessels up for grabs as that office is not taking the liability, the surety is. Now as MJ has pointed out we are not signatories on that private credit so we are trespassing on that private realm. So as long as you provide a SIN offering to their gods yearly they leave you alone. But if we start trying to bring the public into a private system there will be problems. So we need to redeem ourselves out of a private system on Demand into the Public 'IN GOD WE TRUST' trust.

BTW I have been paying with our money by always giving the dollar to who ever, backside up (really the front for us). Funny how I get strange looks sometimes, but the people receiving it always convert it back by flipping it over and put it in the register. I wonder why ;)"

Here is another interesting example of public and private debt:

http://img3.imageshack.us/img3/3979/mindbomb.pdf

The Good Church Will Prevail

Please listen to why you should not do as the author here suggests.

To change the law you will need to be arrested. Otherwise you will be fighting this in a tax court appeal and you will only destroy your congregation. Read on for more details.

First though, this is my third attempt to write because the Cornell University website hangs up my browser - as though this campaign is already either swamping access to the IRC (Internal Revenue Code) or somebody does not want me reading there. So you will have to enter Title "26" and Section "501" for yourself off this link from my Favorites:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/

Reading you will find that "Disqualified organizations" include churches at Section 170. Go to Section 170 as detailed and read that your church is a disqualified organization, that is if you think of your church as a church instead of what is described in Section 501:

"Non-profit tax exempt religious organization."

So there you have it. Your own attorneys that you would be depending upon to help you change the law have already got you fooled into declaring yourselves and your congregants something other than the church. This probably describes somewhat what you think of when you look at your congregation:

http://img692.imageshack.us/img692/6651/thegoodchurch.jpg

Now look at the new bylaws where I attend:

http://imageshack.us/a/img515/9324/restrictions.jpg

We have great music and that is by and large because we hire professionals. Therefore when I enjoy the monthly birthday cake and sit tapping my foot to the music in the sanctuary I am already considered §501(c)(3)! Can you please take a moment to work that out? The new bylaws were written by attorneys.

I can explain how. Look to §508 on the Cornell link. I am considered a §501(c)(3) organization that is taking a long time to get approved. The IRS is just waiting for me to apply and get approval. Meanwhile I am §508. Read §508 for a spell and you will discover there is the Good Church nestled there in Mandatory Exceptions. So you are quite free to be outside the scope of §501(c)(3) already. There is no need to change the law because your church is already provided for in the law.

Problem: Your congregants already pay some 35% of their gross income to the IRS and want to get that tax exemption.

That means that if only one member of your church declares the exemption on the 1040 you are retrograded from the Good Church (basically an unregistered corporation sole like "Mayor" or "Pope") to the religious organization taxed under the IR Code.

Solution: Redeem Lawful Money with every transaction.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU6fxC5CXMg

In other words teach your congregation to get every penny of withholdings back instead of just getting one tax exemption for being in the religious organization.

 

My Thoughts on Pulpit Freedom Sunday

As a Pastor in a political battle ground state, I will use Pulpit freedom Sunday to encourage God's people to exercise their right to vote.  I will not endorse any candidate. Infact, I will discourage people from voting Democrat and GOP and I will encourage people to vote "Christ-Style".  Vote for the candidate they believe most aligns himself with their Biblical worldview.

The separation of church and state has always been a very tuff sell in my mind, because my Christ-Style is suppose to influence, not some decisions, but every decision I make.  Therefore, In my opinion, the point of Pulput Freedom should be to help people compare and contrast both candidate's speech and actions against the Word of God as believers are suppose to do everyday when we shine the Biblical spotlight on our own lives in search of sin and weights unpleasing to God.

Bottom line, as a disciple of Jesus, we must not allow our identity and loyalty to be more attached to either political party than to Christ's body, If we do, we should not pretend to be His disciples.

Rural Christian Pastor

I encountered a rural Christian pastor who was not §501(c)(3) back before I had prepared a Libel of Review template for drafting remedy.

http://img252.imageshack.us/img252/2245/ronalddeansprosecution.pdf

When the IRS found out that he had a congregation at all, they slapped him with an assessment of over $1M! After filing a Verified Statement of Right and Interest (an early rendition of this Libel of Review) the fellow got all his funds returned into his account.

http://img35.imageshack.us/img35/9462/libelofreview52012.pdf

A few days later he was at the ATM drive-thru and got a message he had to come inside. He thought "Oh, God! They have cleaned out the account again?" They had restored his funds but wanted him to sign a waiver of indemnity for the bank so that they could not be sued. He called me and we had a good laugh! They wrote letters of apology to everybody who had received rubber checks that week!

Regards,

David Merrill.

 

 

Join the Conversation via Facebook

To post a comment, log inregister, or use the Facebook comment box.