Money, Politics and the Church

In 1954, Lyndon B. Johnson authored the piece of legislation that would separate church from politics.

Money, Politics and the Church

In 1954, Lyndon B. Johnson authored the piece of legislation that would separate church from politics. It is referred to as the Johnson Amendment. The legislation states that if you are a 501(c)(3) you can't endorse a candidate for political office. If you do so, you risk losing your 501(c)(3) status. The 501(c)(3) designation allows a non-profit, such as a church, to take in donations and the donor deduct that donation from personal taxes. The non-profit becomes tax-exempt. I don't know that I have ever heard of a church that was not a 501(c)(3).

This has a hotbed issue within the Christian community. Although President Trump has been against it, he has done little to repeal the legislation as he talked about doing during his campaign. On the one hand, it gives the Christian body a powerful voice in politics. Those against the Johnson Amendment want that voice. Then there is the other hand and it is the dirty side of politics. How long would it take before you saw money exchange hands for political support. For that matter, how long before the church and the politicians are under obligation to one another? After all, that is politics.

We all would like to think that our church leadership wouldn't fall prey to the temptation. Yet, it is a real temptation that would be brought into the church. That has always been my concern. On Sunday, Pastor Pete Briscoe delivered an incredible message on the polarization of the country and the need for the church to reset.

He made the point that the church was there to show Christ's love and to unify not to divide. He pointed out the obvious which was not so obvious to me. In any church body, you will not have a unity on how people feel about candidates and political issues. The polarization effect intensifies that division. Politics have the tendency to divide us and not unite us.

If a Pastor endorsed a political view and a political candidate from the pulpit, there is great probability that endorsement will divide his congregation more so than unite. It is the mission of the church to love, show Christ, to unite and not divide. It can create a distraction from the mission of the church. He said that this is why no one but his wife will ever know who he votes for.

He is not saying that Christians shouldn't get involved in politics. If there was ever a need for the voice of Christ in a divided world, it is today.

It is easy to get mad and be angered by the politics of today. It is very easy to take the stance I am right and you are wrong and demonstrate that in arguments although the way to violence. I think that the bigger question is this one. Outside of the church, has our politics become too big for our mission in Christ?

Politics will change. The world in which we live will change. Everything is noise when you consider the mission of Christ. That objection is never changing.

Comments
No. 1-4
BobBrooks
BobBrooks

Editor

@JosephC - I think your story is no different than that of someone who is going to a church and the church supports a candidate that they don't like. I just wonder how bad the polarization and division will get. It is already pretty bad!

JosephC
JosephC

The church members should be politically active, the church as an organization should not for all the reasons you state. I had a problem one time with a Christian radio station that assumed their listeners all supported a particular candidate while I did not, and subsequently quit listening, at least until the elections were over.

BobBrooks
BobBrooks

Editor

thanks @atkinsww1 - - it is a tough issue because no one likes politicians dictating through legislation what a church can and cannot do. However, it is a slippery slope to say the least.

atkinsww1
atkinsww1

Excellent article. It's seldom a zero sum game with political candidates, so you can't say that one is "right" and the other "wrong"(except for some of my frien ds who follow "prophets" that seem to have strong opinions in this last election).

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