Lies at ‘Banned by HWA’ and some of why the Continuing Church of God is not registered as a 501(c)(3)
“Elijah in the wilderness“
Last month, I posted an article at the www.ccog.org website titled: 501(c)(3)? Why the Continuing Church of God chose a better option.
Apparently the webmaster at the Banned By HWA site (an anti-Church of God website) did not read it.
Why do I think that?
Well, he attempted to claim that I am trying to “pull one over on the government” according to the headline of a post there this afternoon.
He seemingly did not like the fact that I said I did not use Continuing Church of God funds to produce a particular video. He also posted:
He uses his son or other church member to help record the sermon.
But that is a flat-out false assertion and lie. I setup this particular video, started the video recording, and personally ended the video recording. While my son Brian did edit it (as I posted in the Letter to the Brethren: August 18, 2016), no one helped me record it nor wrote it for me.
The webmaster is an accuser of the brethren, and often a bearer of false witness.
Among other lies and accusations he made in that post about me there, is that he claims that I take a parsonage allowance for the house I live in (I do not) and that I deduct electricity related to the parsonage (which I do not)–I do not take a ‘parsonage allowance’ at all. He makes a variety of statement that he seems to assert are facts, but which he does not know about.
The Bible says:
4 Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest you also be like him.
5 Answer a fool according to his folly,
Lest he be wise in his own eyes. (Proverbs 26:4-5)
So, while I normally do not bother deal with the lies and false assertions at the Banned by HWA website, I thought that I would address a couple of issues, as well as take the time to remind everyone that I still do not take a salary from the Continuing Church of God, nor do I take a parsonage or similar allowance.
The Banned by HWA website also regularly calls me a ‘false prophet.’ Its webmaster has claimed that I have made false prophecies (which is not true) and that nothing I have said came to pass (also not true; I even posted something earlier today which showed that something I wrote on September 13, 2015 came to pass this Summer–see Germany proposing a type of burqa ban).
He and those at his site should cease and desist from such things, believe the Bible, and prayerfully study the article How To Determine If Someone is a True Prophet of God.
Sadly, because many involved with the Banned by HWA website do not have a real love of the truth, they do not seem to care about their false assertions and conclusions.
Anyway, the latest thing that I apparently did to get attention by the Banned by HWA website was to personally produce a video giving my personal opinions on why I would not vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton (you can watch 10 Reasons Not to Vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton).
If the Continuing Church a God was a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit organization, certain rules would apply (which I do not believe I violated). But since we are not, 501(3)(c) specific rules do not apply to the CCOG.
A 501(c)(3) is a nonprofit ‘public charity’ that registered itself with the IRS to be subject to IRS 501(c)(3)-related regulations.
The IRS Publication 4221 states this status is supposedly beneficial, but has some strings attached:
Compliance Guide for 501(c)(3) Public Charities Federal tax law provides tax benefits to nonprofit organizations recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code (Code). The Code requires that tax-exempt organizations must comply with federal tax law to maintain tax-exempt status and avoid penalties.
One federal tax law, an attached string, to be concerned about for 501(c)(3) churches has to do with something called the Johnson Amendment. Here is some information about it:
History of the Johnson Amendment
The Johnson Amendment was passed by Congress in 1954 as an amendment to section 501(c)(3) of the federal tax code. The Johnson Amendment states that entities who are exempt from federal income tax cannot:
Participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of – or in opposition to – any candidate for public office. http://www.dailykos.com/story/2016/7/17/1549065/-The-Johnson-Amendment-what-it-is-and-why-Trump-wants-to-abolish-it
While secular nonprofit organizations must register for 501(c)(3) status if they want tax deductibility status for their donors, according to statute 501(c)(3) (and other statutes), churches are still automatically exempted from having to do this as they are automatically considered to be public charities.
Notice what the IRS states in its publication 1828 titled 501(c)(3) Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations:
Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status
Automatic Exemption for Churches
Churches that meet the requirements of IRC Section 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS. Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because this recognition assures church leaders, members and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt … (Publication 1828 Revision 8-2015)
Thus, an actual church is a non-profit organization per statute 501(c)(3), without ever having to file for registration. Now, being in California, the CCOG did have to file to receive an exempt determination letter from the State of California, and we received it (for more on that, see 501(c)(3)? Why the Continuing Church of God chose a better option)–but again the CCOG is not a 501(c)(3) registered nonprofit).
Churches that do not register as a 501(c)(3) organization simply do not have the additional 501(c)(3) requirements.
Some have claimed that registering as a 501(c)(3) church means that the federal government, and/or local governments, will have control of what can be preached and taught. Thus far, while there is some truth in that, this often has been overstated by opponents of a 501(c)(3) status for churches. Generally speaking, the IRS does not get involved in what churches teach unless it is considered to be ‘political speech’ (because of the Johnson Amendment). Yet, as we see more secularization in the USA, this could become a very serious issue one day.
While the Continuing Church of God is tax-exempt, etc. under 501(c)(3), we have not registered to be under additional 501(c)(3) regulations and possibly future burdens as that was less expensive for us initially as well as for future operations.
Now, here is some of what the IRS has put out about that in its Publication 1828 titled 501(c)(3) Tax Guide for Churches & Religious Organizations related to that:
Political Campaign Activity
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all IRC Section 501(c)(3) organizations, including churches and religious organizations, are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of the organization in favor of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of excise tax…. ; or (c) have the effect of favoring a candidate or group of candidates, will constitute prohibited participation or intervention. …
Issue Advocacy vs . Political Campaign Intervention
Like other Section 501(c)(3) organizations, some churches and religious organizations take positions on public policy issues, including issues that divide candidates in an election for public office. However, 501(c)(3) organizations must avoid any issue advocacy that functions as political campaign intervention. Even if a statement does not expressly tell an audience to vote for or against a specific candidate, an organization delivering the statement is at risk of violating the political campaign intervention prohibition if there is any message favoring or opposing a candidate. A statement can identify a candidate not only by stating the candidate’s name but also by other means such as showing a picture of the candidate, referring to political party affiliations or other distinctive features of a candidate’s platform or biography. …
Individual Activity by Religious Leaders
The political campaign activity prohibition isn’t intended to restrict free expression on political matters by leaders of churches or religious organizations speaking for themselves, as individuals. Nor are leaders prohibited from speaking about important issues of public policy. … To avoid potential attribution of their comments outside of church functions and publications, religious leaders who speak or write in their individual capacity are encouraged to clearly indicate that their comments are personal and not intended to represent the views of the organization.
The COGwriter.com website is my personal website, not officially part of the Continuing Church of God. This is not something new.
This website existed for many years prior to the formation of the CCOG. Furthermore, even after CCOG formed, the home page of COGwriter.com still states:
This is the personal home page of Bob Thiel, the Church of God writer AKA COGwriter. The opinions expressed are my own, based upon my understanding of history, various facts, and the Bible that the remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God holds. I, not the Continuing Church of God, am solely responsible for its content.
So, even if the Continuing Church of God was a 501(c)(3) registered church, I would be allowed to make statements at the COGwriter,com website as an individual person. And I do.
But, to attempt to avoid the appearance of possible legalistic impropriety, I decided that I would not have the CCOG pay for producing a particular video (10 Reasons Not to Vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton). Normally, CCOG pays for the editing of various videos–which mainly entails putting scriptures being read up on the screen. In this case, CCOG did not.
Even though the Johnson Amendment is for 501(c)(3) churches, I decided to make it clear that the message 10 Reasons Not to Vote for Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton was my personal opinion. A personal opinion, with which yes, I quoted several scriptures.
But freedom of religious speech is still supposed to be covered by the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States (which is where I live). Even if there are critics and accusers of the brethren who do not like what is being said.
The webmaster and some others at the Banned By HWA site remain in my prayers.
Some items of perhaps related interest include:
501(c)(3)? Why the Continuing Church of God chose a better option Churches in the USA do NOT have to register as 501(c)(3). Why would they? Why is what CCOG did better?
Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word What is the ‘short work’ of Romans 9:28? Who is preparing for it? Here is a link to a related video sermon titled: The Short Work.
The Final Phase of the Work What is the final phase of the work? Who will lead it? Do you have the courage to support it? Here is a related YouTube video titled The Final Phase of the Work. The written article has been translated into Spanish La Fase Final de la Obra.
Leading the Final Phase of the Work Matthew 24:14 teaches “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come ” will be fulfilled and RCG is not the group doing this. Who is leading the final phase of the work? What did Herbert Armstrong and the old WCG teach about that and about prophets? Does Bob Thiel meet the criteria that the Bible and the old WCG set? What is the proof? What has the Continuing Church of God been doing? This is a sermonette length video.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy? Here is a link in the German language: WO IST DIE WAHRE CHRISTLICHE KIRCHE HEUTE? Here is a link in the French language: Où est la vraie Église Chrétienne aujourd’hui?
Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. The booklet is available in Spanish: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios, German: Kontinuierliche Geschichte der Kirche Gottes, and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.