Captive to Government?

T.M. Moore of Crosfigell: The Fellowship of Ailbe wrote in his emailed devotional today, the following:

It is not permitted to the Church to accept alms from pagans.

Canons Attributed to St. Patrick, Irish, 6th century

But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money!”

Acts 8.20

During the last presidential campaign, you will recall, a group of pastors decided to test the IRS’s resolve by preaching sermons in which they endorsed a particular candidate for the nation’s highest office. Such is not permitted to organizations who enjoy a tax-deductible status with the IRS, on pain of possibly having their tax-exempt status revoked. So far there have been no negative ramifications, but it may just be that the jury is still out. The situation serves to remind us how dependent churches are on government largesse. Wouldn’t it just be easier to renounce our tax-exempt status and then preach whatever we want? Well, no, pastors will tell you, because contributions will drop off significantly if people don’t get a tax deduction for their offering.

Does that mean that not only are our churches captive to government, but individual believers as well? Is it really true that church members would not give as much, or maybe not at all, if they weren’t going to get a tax deduction? This situation strikes me as a kind of receiving alms from pagans. We give so that we can save some of the money the IRS might otherwise require of us. We guard our tongues from the pulpit so that IRS won’t take away our tax-exempt status because our people will reduce their giving to us if they don’t get a deduction. Is it just me, or does this whole situation smell oddly of Peter’s rebuke of Simon Magus? It’s sad to think that Kingdom business is held captive to bottom lines held captive to government rules held captive to pagan legislators and policy-makers held captive to the father of lies. I wonder how many other ways we allow ourselves to remain captive to the world because of some perceived benefit?

Lord, set me free from everything that keeps me from seeking Your Kingdom and righteousness as my highest priority in life.

T. M. Moore

His thoughts in regards to churches and their taxation has come to mind for me previously. While the secularists say they want a separation of church and state, what would happen if the church were free to preach truly? Would they truly be more comfortable?