by Pastor JC Hall
In 1775 an ardent Christian and skillful attorney climbed into the pulpit of St. Johns church. To a packed crowd, he passionately decried the abuses of his government, ridiculed the king’s oppressive policies, declared the king a tyrant and called the people to arms. However, it was clear that this Christian attorney standing in the pulpit was committed to resisting the tyranny of his government whether the crowd was with him or not, as he cried “I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me Liberty or give me death!”
What a stark contrast we see between Patrick Henry’s words in St. John’s Church and the words uttered from many pulpits today! According to researcher George Barna founder of The Barna Group, although 90 percent of pastors agree that the Bible speaks to “today’s issues” only 10 percent say they are willing to speak on these issues.
Some of that ten percent apparently participate in “National Pulpit Freedom Day.” That’s when some 501c3 pastors apparently muster up enough courage and obedience to God to come out of the shadows on one of 365 days and not hold back on any issue. In particular they take the no-trespassing sign off of politics and dare to allow God to have sway over these opinions as well.
This holiday doesn’t sit well with some anti-theists. The 19,000-member group of God-haters known as the Freedom From Religion Foundation apparently doesn’t believe churches should be allowed to serve God and Mammon. They have the audacity to believe that churches who submit themselves to the rules of a 501c3, should actually follow them (radical huh?) FFRF filed a suit and, in short, the IRS has settled and agreed to begin closer monitoring (read IRS targeting) of churches to ensure that their speech is within the rules set by the IRS. So I wonder, what will American 501c3 pastors do? Will they continue to celebrate their speak-the-truth-with-boldness holiday? Or will they get nervous and buckle? By the way, if you think the monitoring will stop with just candidate endorsments, think again. The FFRF suit named Billy Graham’s group for an ad that said “Vote Biblically.”
The real solution of course – stop serving God and Mammon and serve God alone. Drop the 501c3 and make God your only master and preach the Word with boldness and without reservation EVERY day of the year! I know that seems to be a difficult decision for many. As a pastor in Florida I have encountered members who seem to have an inordinate focus on the 7 cents on the dollar that the church might save from a tax exempt status. “If we can keep the 501c3 and save 30 pieces of silver then surely we’ll come out ahead, right preacher?”
If your church’s focus is still on the dollar bill, then take heart. Matt Staver of Liberty Counsel has pointed out that a church doesn’t have to be a 501c3 to be tax exempt; churches already have that status under the first amendment. 501c3 only imparts the privilege of being told what you can and can’t preach. As for me, I’d rather pay taxes than be silent. If we truly believe what we preach, then why isn’t everyday pulpit freedom day? So who do you think the churches should serve? Do you think we should do everything we can to fight against taxes or should we preach what God declares no matter what the cost?