National Debt Talks Stages Opportunity to Examine Defective Concepts of Church Economics Pt. 2 Reported by John L. Hairston Last month, our Congress passed The Budget Control Act 2011, which would temporarily barricade the economy from the extant threat of default on our country's debt. The agreement announces cuts of more than $900 billion over ten years in spending from programs, agencies and operational expenditures. With the bill proposing a mandatory $1.2 trillion cut in spending by December 2011, Faith-Based programs may be enjoying the last of the granting Christmas from the White House for at least the next 5 years. This spells a pending drought of funding too many, already struggling, programs-some vital to community recovery. If you haven't read last month's Part 1 article of this series, allow me to reiterate. The church has entangled itself in the fate of the American economy. The Holy Scriptures prophetically declares: "2DO NOT BE CONFORMED TO THIS WORLD, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing YOU MAY DISCERN WHAT IS THE WILL OF GOD, what is GOOD and ACCEPTABLE and PERFECT." Romans 12:2 English Standard Version To "conform" means: 1 2
: to be similar or identical also: to be in agreement or harmony a : to be obedient or compliant — b : to act in accordance with prevailing standards or customs
So, to conform to the "world" is to place yourself in direct opposition to the Head of the Church; with the, now customary, need to incorporate churches and obtain tax-exempt status, the so-called "financial attacks" of the adversary on congregations may truly be self-inflicted wounds. The Incorporation Epidemic In 1811, Protestant Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Virginia was the first church to attempt incorporation. In the beginning, Congress intended to ratify a bill that would allow the church to incorporate. That bill was met with a veto from, then, President James Madison, who gave as his objection: "Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares that „Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.‟ The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and polity of the church incorporated… This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration."(1) Up until 1898, all States in the Union denied any church the ability to incorporate. It was the state of New Jersey that opened its constitution to amendment that would allow churches to become incorporated in the
state, giving out "articles of incorporation" rather than charters. And, this began the malignant transfer of authority of the church into the hands of the Sates, under the name of "modernization". Why Would "Churches" Want to be Incorporated? What exactly does an incorporation status do for churches? What does it provide in the way of benefits for the Body of Christ? Does incorporation facilitate the churches ability to fulfill the Great Commission? This has been a burning question in the debate of church incorporation. It is a well known fact that churches seek incorporation to receive "limited liability" protection from the State. Limited Liability protection reduces confiscation of personal assets of those who form the corporation; in the case of litigation against the corporation, only the assets of the corporation at risk of seizure, not the personal property of the incorporators. Churches also claim that they incorporate to own, buy and sell property in its own name. Tax write-offs for expenses incurred during general operations is another reason why churches incorporate. We have to remember, that just because it works-doesn't mean that it's right. The Word of God is the final Authority of the Church, and all things Christian; all movements of the Church in the earth should be made using the Scripture and the Holy Spirit as a guide. The wisdom of man has proven faulty and only temporary as a solution to many questions raised concerning Church growth and advancement. Let's first look at the origins of incorporation. The Root of Incorporation Incorporating dates back to, at least, 250 B.C. and was an institution of ancient Rome and India. By 6 AD, Rome had established the Corpus Juris Civilis or Body of Civil Law, in which, it was required that all "spontaneous collectivities of persons" were required to incorporate. If you assembled as a collective body for any reason, you had to be "licensed" by Rome to do so. The early Church refused to be licensed by the Roman government based on what it entailed to become incorporated: The Roman Caesar was sovereign over the incorporation The incorporation was subject to the laws of the State of its creation Incorporation was sign of allegiance to the Roman Caesar Many leaders, in defense of their organizational decision, will argue that incorporation doesn't place the church's authority into the hands of the State, because the State doesn't involve itself in religious affairs. This isn‟t factual. There are numerous cases where the courts and municipal governments have interfered with church liberties solely because they had JURISDICTION over the ORGANIZATION. Here is what has to be realized in the matter, the secular government has NO JURISDICTION OVER THE CHURCH, but they have jurisdiction OVER ALL INCORPORATED ENTITIES in their respective States. How? The incorporation is a CREATION OF THE STATE by virtue of the Articles of Incorporation, which is a signed and sealed, legally-binding, document that cedes jurisdiction of Church Authority over to the States Government. That‟s right, the “churches”, through incorporation, have handed over the jurisdiction
of the church to the secular government, just as Adam ceded the dominion of the earth over to Satan. I want to cite a case from 1988, Matthews v. Adams, 520 So. 2nd 334(1988), here is an excerpt from the case: “Appellants appeal on the basis that the circuit court had no authority over them because they are a recognized religious organization, a church. On first reflection they appeared to be correct but upon a closer study of the complaint and the judgment we are of the opinion that this is not an improper interference by the government into a church, or ecclesiastical, matter. When the members of the church decided to incorporate their body under the laws of the state of Florida they submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the state courts in all matters of a corporate nature, such as accounting for funds.” Whenever a “church” signs the Articles of Incorporation, they have made the church an incorporation, and have consequently ceded jurisdiction to the secular government. An incorporation IS NOT A CHURCH, but AN ORGANIZATION, a creature of the State. “Having elected to incorporate under the laws of the state, they should be required to conform to the consequences of their voluntary act.” - Gibson v. Munson, 296 Ark. 160 (1988)” “...Where there is no incorporation, those who deal with the church must trust for the performance of civil obligations to the honor and good faith of the members.” -Methodist Church of Newark v. Clark (41 Mich. 730, 737)” There is irrefutable evidence in case law that support the fact that “churches” cede jurisdiction of the church to secular government through incorporation. Is there scriptural evidence? Yes, let‟s go to a moment in the ministry of Jesus Christ: “ 20And they watched him, and sent forth spies, which should feign themselves just men, that they might take hold of his words, that so they might deliver him unto the power and authority of the governor. 21
And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly: 22
Is it lawful for us to give tribute unto Caesar, or no?
But he perceived their craftiness, and said unto them, Why tempt ye me?
Shew me a penny. Whose image and superscription hath it? They answered and said, Caesar's.
And he said unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar's, and unto God the things which be God's. 26
And they could not take hold of his words before the people: and they marvelled at his answer, and held their peace.”(2) Christ established JURISDICTION and Authority. He said what Caesar (secular gov‟t) has established is his and has rightful sovereignty over, but what God established is His and He has Sovereignty over it. When we place this in light of Matthew 16:18:
“…and upon this rock I WILL BUILD, MY CHURCH”(3) We can understand unequivocally, the Church is a creation and creature of God, and He has absolute sovereignty over it. God will not share jurisdiction of what is His with anyone or thing (4). How is it then that we as leaders of the church can voluntarily cede or share what is God‟s with Caesar? We believe that there is no real or apparent danger in incorporating a church, because we don‟t see blatant or irreverent disregard for church liberties, but the pieces are being put in place for a mass move against these ministries. With the recent economic decline of the country, and the debate concerning the overhaul of the tax code, we can definitely see a formation of strategy to encroach upon remaining rights and “benefits” of the church. Next Month we will look into proposed reasoning of why churches incorporate and examine the legality and scriptural implication of the “advantages” cited. I want direct you also to the blog post, Are We Robbing Peter to Pay Paul? at Revolutionary Ministry Concepts Blog (5) for further information on Church Economics. For more information concerning this article or others by the writer, please contact John L. Hairston at 206-240-7133 or mailto:email@example.com References: 1) Messages and Papers of the President, vol. 1 , pp. 474-5 cf. In Caesar's Grip, pg. 66, Peter Kershaw, Heal Our Land Ministries 2000. 2) Luke 20:20-26 King James Version, cf. Matthew 22:15-22; Mark 12:13-17 3) Matthew 16:18 King James Version 4) Isaiah 42:8 King James Version 5) Revolutionary Ministry Concepts Blog, http://kingdomsembassyinternational.wordpress.com/2011/07/29/are-we-robbing-peter-to-pay-paul-pt-1/