The following is an attempt to enlighten the Christian community as to the effects of American Law and legal relationships between governments and churches when the latter are incorporated under state law. The first point of reference on this subject is normally the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment does NOT grant religious freedom. Rather, it is a recognition and guarantee of a pre-existing individual right. As such, religious liberty can never be violated by any act of government because it is above/beyond the reach of government activity. This will always be the case so long as the Church recognizes its' lofty position and does not inadvertently or willingly place itself under government authority.
It is said that nature abhors a vacuum. This is especially true in the field of law in that all are accountable under some law; if not man made then ultimately under God's law. God's law for man began with the Ten Commandments but reached its' zenith in the law of love as taught by Christ. Simply stated, he who loves will always do justice and will require no other law. (Gal.5:14-23, 1Tim. 1:5-10) Sadly, this is rarely the case, which explains the abundance of civil law.The Christian Church, as the Body of Christ, is subject to Christ and to no other authority. This is the great truth that spawned the First Amendment. Its authors demanded that government recognize the Church's position as being above government. Historically, the health of the Christian Church was always in proportion to its distance from civil government. When Rome adopted Christianity under Constantine, the Church was paganized. Similar episodes followed later in Europe. Persecution under the church of England, a "state" church, was instrumental in driving colonists to America seeking religious liberty. Their children wrote the First Amendment to our constitution. They gave us a legacy of religious liberty that no prior generation of Christians ever enjoyed. The subject of this paper is to answer the question, "What has happened to our religious liberty?" To illustrate the answer, let us suppose that a body of local legislators proposed a law licensing baptisms. (note: a license is a grant of permission to do something that, without the license, is illegal.) Immediately, some astute Christian would object saying, "What right does the state have to legislate the commands of Christ?! We don't need the state's permission!" The example above is not that farfetched. The institution of Marriage, though created, ordained and sanctified by God, is also a state-licensed activity. Note also that licensed marriages are legally defined as "state created" and subject to state authority. Can the state forbid unlicensed marriages? Not at all. A Christian marriage is protected by the First Amendment from government intrusion. It exists under God's law. On the other hand, a couple that wishes to be under state law need only ask the state's permission and a license will be issued. The next, and most important question is, "What law is the Church under?" The answer is nearly the same as with the institution of marriage. The Church can exist either as the Body of Christ under the laws of God or it can exist as a body of people under the laws of the state. It depends upon whose authority we ask to be under. We can be under the New Testament covenant with God or under a corporate license with the state. Either way we choose the law we wish to be under and are bound by it: The ramifications of that choice are far reaching with regard to religious liberty. Consider the following:
Consider the words of the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Hale vs. Henkle 201 US 43: "There is a clear distinction in this particular between an individual and a corporation, and that the latter has no right to refuse to submit its books and papers for an examination at the suit of the state. The individual may stand upon his constitutional rights as a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no duty to the state or to his neighbors to divulge his business, or to open his doors to an investigation so far as it may tend to incriminate him. He owes no such duty to the State, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond the protection of his life and property."
- 1. Since State and Federal government may not interfere with religion (First Amendment), they may not license a church. They can, however, issue a corporate license to a 501c3 non-profit corporation.
- 2. A corporation, by law, is a creature (created by) of the state.
- 3. Corporations have NO First Amendment or other Constitutionally protected rights!
and,"Upon the other hand, the corporation is a creature of the State. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It receives certain special privileges and franchises, and holds them subject to the laws of the State and the limitations of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its Charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its creation."
Some will ask, "What about our church's tax exempt status?" It is true that in order to receive the tax exempt privilege from the IRS you must be a nonprofit corporation. But why should the Church ask to be exempt from taxes (a granted privilege) when it is already IMMUNE from taxation under Constitutional law?! The little known fact here is that only corporations are subject to IRS jurisdiction. So then, if the Church is already immune from government regulation and taxation, why bother asking government for "favors" at the high price of our freedoms? Wars were fought and people died to give us liberties that we are presently losing through the general ignorance of believers. To recap the main points:
- 4. What the state creates, it can tax, regulate or destroy!
1. Any "church" that is incorporated under State law is subject to State and Federal regulation of its activities. The First Amendment does not apply.
2. Any religious "liberties" currently enjoyed by such a church are legally defined as State-granted privileges and NOT Constitutionally protected rights.
The illustration at right is intended to show the relationship between sovereignty and law. It is based on the concept of CREATOR and CREATURE.As GOD is the CREATOR of MAN, it follows that MAN is the CREATURE or creation of GOD and therefore the servant of GOD and subject to the laws of GOD. In similar fashion, MAN, in America, created GOVERNMENT. The U.S. Constitution was the document written by men that created the government. In this case, MAN is the CREATOR and government is the CREATURE. Government was created to be the servant of man. This is why government employees are referred to as "Public Servants." Continuing the analogy, we find that government also creates things. These have been illustrated in three general categories: Licensed Individuals, Corporations and government Agencies. And again, the same rules apply. That which the government creates is totally subject to and the servant of government. This brings us to the main question: WHO IS LORD? Christian individuals and churches need to ask themselves why they are asking government for licenses (individual and corporate) to do things that they have a God-given RIGHT to do. With regard to churches in particular, incorporating under section 501c3 of the Internal Revenue Code places that part of the Body of Christ in the position of "Servant to the Servants." This is plainly contrary to both the intent of the Founding Fathers AND the teachings of the Bible.
NO MAN CAN SERVE TWO MASTERS!
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