Greg J Dixon

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Welfare Churches By Greg J. Dixon

Welfare Churches


Greg J. Dixon

It's "old school", thanks O'Reilly, for my generation to never forget the opening lines of Ernest Lawrence Thayer's American classic, Casey at the bat?

The outcome wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day

The score stood four to two, but with one inning more to play

And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same

A Pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game

Does this not also remind us of the condition that the Evangelical and most Fundamental, including Baptist churches found themselves in as the Primary election season began this past year when it came to any hopes of a candidate that could remove the dratted Johnson Amendment? This law in place since 1954, passed during the Christmas recess when few congressmen were present has shackled the pastors of America ever since in the area of political activity as far as the pulpits of America are concerned.  Few understand that it only effects the church not the pastor except where he speaks by authority of the church but from a practical standpoint it really makes no difference.  The law is always there for the IRS to use selectively however and whenever they wish to do so.  

Then in July Casey I mean Trump came to bat for the churches and said, "Elect me, I will be the savior of the churches and get rid of this horrible Johnson law."  The liberal preachers were hypocritical and said churches should not be involved in politics but they were up to their eyebrows in the social gospel politics in that a material, feed the hungry, house the homeless, and feed the poor was the only gospel they had to preach which is a gospel of socialism.  The conservative preachers have always believed it was there mandate to preach against moral sins that effect society, whether slavery, prohibition, abortion, porn, etc. However the elephant in the room is tax-exemption.  The club government holds over the head of the churches is the tax-deductible gift, in other words, the divine payoff.  They get paid for their silence.  Up until recently government hasn't been strong enough to enforce the Johnson Law, but as America has become more secular and the church has become weaker, the IRS has become bolder.

Now that Casey, I mean Trump, has been elected, he signed an executive order yesterday, May 5, before a crowd of priests, nuns, and faith leaders which according to an article in USA Today May 5, "would take historic steps to protect religious liberty."  What is this protection for religious liberty?  Casey, I mean Trump, is telling the IRS to go easy on the pastors, in other words don't look too closely or listen to carefully (through those listening devices government has planted?) as to what they preach from their pulpits or write in their articles.  But hold on a minute, something went wrong, the conservative preachers weren't happy with the order.

USA said that that the activists called the executive order Trump signed in the Rose Garden on the National Day of prayer a mere shadow of a draft that leaked earlier this year, and woefully inadequate. "Pres. Trump must continue to work to protect religious freedom, said Paul Weber, president of the family policy alliance."

The order stopped short of Trump's vow to "totally destroy" the amendment instead instructing the IRS to enforce the law consistent with how it's done so in the past - allowing speech on political and moral issues as long as it doesn't advocate the election or defeat of a particular candidate. Only Congress can change that law to allow churches to endorse candidates without losing their tax-exempt status." Or their goodies through tax-deductible gifts from their donors.

The article from USA continues," vowing to fight what he called discrimination against religious people and institutions, Trump said, "we will not allow people of faith to be targeted, bullied, or silenced any more."

Yet even as Trump promises the second order makes it "clear that the federal government will never, ever penalize any person from their protected religious beliefs" the activists were not convinced they would avoid punishment if they refuse to provide services or benefits on religious or moral grounds." 

You will notice that this issue is not being dealt with on religious grounds it is being treated clearly in the area of speech.  The First Amendment in the area of religion is dead, the only rights left is in the area of speech. The USA article said, "Trump views his actions as the fulfillment of campaign pledges. He sees the Johnson amendment as a violation of free speech rights. "I spoke about it a lot" during last year's presidential campaign, and "promised to take action," he said.

The preachers certainly should be concerned. First they should be concerned over ever getting this Republican Congress to eliminate the Johnson Amendment.  And even if they do will it have strings attached such as eliminating discrimination against other religious and sexual orientation such as the LGBT community.  And be assured no Democratic Congress in the future will ever change it.  And then even if Congress should eliminate the amendment what about the courts?  They could still say that a church that discriminates is violating the civil rights laws and take away their tax exemption.  This issue is far from over and if you believe that Casey, I mean Trump, has hit a home run for the churches, with this executive order, it is sheer folly.  In fact it may be that Casey, I mean Trump has struck out.

Instead of depending upon Caesar, I mean Trump, maybe the churches should depend upon God, and the provision of our founding fathers provided by the First Amendment: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Just sixteen words, but for the churches to take advantage of this provision they cannot be legal entities such as a corporation, un-incorporated association, corporation sole or charitable trust according to IRS Pub.1828.  But without this legal status a church cannot be a non-profit tax exempt entity recognized by the IRS and receive these benefits, in other words they cannot be a "welfare church."  How sad.

And now let us continue with "Casey at the Bat."

Oh, somewhere in this favoured land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light;

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout,

But there is no joy in Mudville—mighty Casey, Trump, has struck out.

This poem is in the public domain.

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