508(c)(1)(a) churches have more legal freedom to preach than 501(c)(3) churches


Someone sent me a link that led to the following:


Cleveland Futch & Dan Peterson*

I . Free Expression of Religion and Freedom o f Speech o r Not, That is t he Question There is considerable confusion today on what pastors can and cannot say from the pulpit. 1 Most of this confusion rests squarely on the structural foundation of the church. If the church is founded as a 501 (c)(3), the church has free speech restrictions. 2 All 501 (c)(3) organizations are prohibited from influencing legislation and political campaigns. 3 As social issues have become political issues, churches and church leaders are increasingly avoiding issues, avoiding taking positions, and selectively addressing Biblical principles and training Godly leaders out of fear of what might happen if they do. Now more than ever churches need to lead in the call of training and developing leaders in our communities and nation consistent with Biblical beliefs. Our hope is that professionals who advise religious leaders will remain open to learning a better way to structure churches and church ministries to affect that call . The purpose of this analysis is to show the dangers and restrictions of the church foundation a s a 501 (c)(3) compared to the benefits and rights of the church being a 508 (c)(1)(a). 4

In 1954 our U.S. Congress amended Section 501(c)(3) of the tax code to include language that these organizations could no longer “participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for public office.” The bill was introduced by then Senator Lynden Johnson to silence two private foundations that supported his political opponent. Be fore this amendment there were no speech restrictions on churches. Since the amendment passed , the IRS has maintained that church’ s speech and pastor ’ s sermons , in the IRS’ sole judgement, could be interpreted as supporting or opposing candidates or attempting to influence legislation and can result in the church losing its tax exempt status. Many churches and church leaders accept this interpretation of the Code and avoid speech that could be construed as political. We believe that the speech restrictions of the Johnson Amendment in Section 501(c)(3) are unconstitutional in restricting speech of pastors and churches.

Before going further, let me state that although US President Donald Trump said he would get rid of the Johnson Amendment, he did not. All he did was prohibit enforcement with an executive order in 2017. This can easily be changed by any president, and thus this is not legal safety. While I agree that the Johnson Amendment is unconstitutional, the USA has done many things that are in violation of its constitution.

Getting back to the paper, WHY ALL CHURCHES SHOULD BE A 508(c)(1)(a), it also states:

There is no statute anywhere that says a “church” has to be a 501(c)(3) . Nowhere in Section 501(c)(3) is the word “church” used. …

Churches, Integrated Auxillaries, and Association of Churches, hereinafter Faith Based Organizations (FBO’s), have rights that no other non-profits enjoy. The First Amendment guarantees the right of “Free” exercise of religion. 11 The First Amendment also guarantees the right of “Freedom ” of speech. Only FBO non-profits enjoy these dual rights. Any law or rule passed that conflicts with these righ s would be unconstitutional. FBO’s have the right to speak freely a bout social and political issues without losing tax-exempt status , however most voluntarily waive this constitutional right in applying and receiving a “Letter of Determination” as a 501 (c)(3).

All 501 (c)(3) FBO’s have waived their rights. Corporations, like people, can waive rights. You can waive your right to a hearing, waive your right to speedy trial, even waive your Miranda rights if arrested. A waived right can be final on appeal. 12 If an FBO chooses to apply and then receives recognition of exemption from the IRS they also waive rights. First, in organizing for their exempt purpose FBO’s are required to waive free expression of religion and free speech in order to qualify. Second, in operating for their exempt purpose the IR S has sole discretion to vacate FBO’s tax exempt status at the IRS ’ discretion and interpretation for any violation of 501(c)(3) restrictions. …

There is no law that prohibits churches from speaking on candidates, politics, or legislation. The 501(c)(3) speech restrictions apply only to corporations that are organized as a 501(c)(3). Churches that believe it is their responsibility to raise and foster Godly leaders in our representative democracy may do so, but not as a 501(c)(3).

There is also no statute anywhere that says a n FBO is required to be a 501(c)(3). In fact, there are several ways a n FBO could be organized. An FBO could be organized as a 501(c)(4), a 501(d) , and even a for profit corporation. An FBO also can and should be organized as a 508(c)(1)(a).

The Continuing Church of God organized as a 508(c)(1)(a). We also have been officially granted tax-exemption from the State of California.

Legally, we also organized as a “corporation sole.” This form of organization was used by a Church of God leader (Herbert W. Armstrong) in the past to deal with unconstitutional government actions.

Sadly my two previous COG organizations were 501(c)(3) and were not formed as  a “corporation sole.”

This ended up essentially destroying the old Global Church of God (the split in GCG in November 1998 could not have occurred as it did if GCG had been a “corporation sole”).

The fact of the 501(c)(3) registration by the Living Church of God got it to distance itself from prophetic truths and has also resulted in it being unwilling to make various public statements (see 501(c)(3)? Why the Continuing Church of God chose a better option).

Of course, GCG and LCG are not the only COGs organized as 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations. Many churches are structured as corporation aggregates, which basically means a committee runs them. This is also not in accordance with true biblical governance. Later on in his life, Herbert W. Armstrong realized this, to a degree, and set up the church as a corporation sole.

We in the Continuing Church of God believe we chose the best available legal ways to form to lead the Philadelphian work in the end times.

This, of course, does not mean that the State or Federal governments may not take improper actions against us.

Actually, we believe that is prophesied (cf. Amos 8:11-12).

But what it does mean is that we in the Continuing Church of God are serious about fulfilling Jesus’ commissions in Matthew 24:14 and 28:19-20. And in the end times, boldly fulfilling the following:

1 Cry aloud, spare not; Lift up your voice like a trumpet; Tell My people their transgression, And the house of Jacob their sins. (Isaiah 58:1)

19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)

Many other COG groups are more cautious and unwilling to do that as much as they should. Part of the reason from USA based groups is that most of them are 501(c)(3) registered and are not corporation soles.

Jesus warned that most Christians would be lukewarm in the end times, and we are seeing that.

Forming the way we in the Continuing Church of God did was part of our preparation for the short work (Romans 9:27)–as we feel that is the best way to fulfill various biblical teachings on end time proclamations.

Some items of related interest may include:

Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world. Here is a link to a related sermon: CCOG, a corporation sole, not a 501(c)(3).
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?
Why is the Continuing Church of God a corporation sole? What is a ‘corporation sole’ and why is this a better organizational choice?
6. The Philadelphia Church Era was predominant circa 1933 A.D. to 1986 A.D. The old Radio Church of God and old Worldwide Church of God, now the remnant of that era is basically the most faithful in the Church of God, like who hold to the beliefs and practices of the Continuing Church of God.
7. The Laodicean Church Era has been predominant circa 1986 A.D. to present. The Laodiceans are non-Philadelphians who mainly descended from the old WCG or its offshoots. They do not properly understand the work or biblical prophecies and will face the Great Tribulation if they do not repent. One video of related interest is 17 Laodicean Errors in Prophecy.
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory. There is also a video on the subject: Might Petra be the Place of Safety? Here is something related in the Spanish language: Hay un lugar de seguridad para los Filadelfinos. ¿Puede ser Petra?
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.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God This free online pdf booklet has answers many questions people have about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God and explains why it is the solution to the issues the world is facing. Here are links to three related sermons: The World’s False Gospel, The Gospel of the Kingdom: From the New and Old Testaments, and The Kingdom of God is the Solution.
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 and Continuing History of the Church of God: 17th-20th 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.
CCOG.ORG Continuing Church of God The group striving to be most faithful amongst all real Christian groups to the word of God. There are links to literature is about 100 different languages there. To see how CCOG has done so far, here are links to two sermons Continuing Church of God (CCOG) first year anniversary: What has been accomplished? an CCOG: Four Years Revealing Philadelphia? Here is a written link to a version of that first sermon in the Spanish language: Aniversario del primer año de la Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios: ¿Qué se ha cumplido?
Congregations of the Continuing Church of God This is a listing of congregations and groups of the Continuing Church of God around the world.
Continuing Church of God Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Africa, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Canada, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
Continuing Church of God, Europe, Facebook page This has news and prophetic information.
CCOG.ASIA We in the Continuing Church of God also have the url www.ccog.asia which has a focus on Asia and has various articles in Mandarin Chinese as well as some in English, plus some items in other Asian languages. 我们在继续神的教会也提供此网址 www.ccog.asia, 关注于亚洲并且有各种各样的中英文文章,其中一些用菲律宾语翻译的文章也正在进行中,准备添加到这个网站中。 Here is a link to our Statement of Beliefs in Mandarin Chinese 继续神的教会的信仰声明.
CCOG.IN This is a website targeted towards those of Indian heritage. It has a link to an edited Hindi translation of The Mystery of the Ages and is expected to have more non-English language materials in the future.
CCOG.EU This is a website targeted toward Europe. It has materials in more than one language (currently it has English, Dutch, and Serbian, with links also to Spanish) and it is intended to have additional language materials added.
CCOG.NZ This is a website targeted towards New Zealand and others with a British-descended background.
CCOGAFRICA.ORG This is a website targeted towards those in Africa.
CCOGCANADA.CA This is a website targeted towards those in Canada.
CDLIDD.ES La Continuación de la Iglesia de Dios. This is the Spanish language website for the Continuing Church of God.
PNIND.PH Patuloy na Iglesya ng Diyos. This is the Philippines website Continuing Church of God. It has information in English and Tagalog.
CCOGAfrica channel. This has messages from African pastors in African languages such as Kalenjin, Kiswahili, Embu, and Dholuo.
Bible News Prophecy online radio. This is an audio version of the Bible News Prophecy videos as well as some ContinuingCOG channel sermons. It is also available as a mobile app.
Bible News Prophecy channel. Dr. Thiel has produced many YouTube sermonette videos for the BibleNewsProphecy channel. And you can find them there.
ContinuingCOG channel. Dr. Thiel has produced scores of YouTube video sermons for this channel. Note: Since these are sermon-length, they can take a little longer to load than other YouTube videos.

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