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What is a 501(c)(3) organization?
A 501(c)(3) is nonprofit ‘public charity’ that registered itself with the IRS to be subject to IRS 501(c)(3)-related regulations. A
If the Continuing Church of God is not required to register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, are contributions to it tax deductible in the USA?
But, from time to time, we have been asked: But, from time to time, we have been asked:
Why do nearly all churches in the United States register as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations?
Doesn’t registering as a 501(c)(3) organization provide limitations that churches do not have to have?
Well, the answer to the second question is yes as no church is required to register to be a real charity under 501(c)(3).
As far as the first question as to why most churches register as a 501(c)(3) organization, that is a bit tricky. As far as the first question as to why most churches register as a 501(c)(3) organization, that is a bit tricky.
The main reasons seem to be because:
- Some advisor told them to.
- The leadership believed it was safer for them personally.
- They thought it was just the normal way church corporations needed to be set up.
Essentially, many church leaders are afraid that if the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) should declare that their group is not an actual church, and then make contributions non-tax deductible, then the leadership worries that they may have liability.
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, 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
So, there are speech and advocacy restrictions on 501(c)(3) organizations–and this includes churches that are registered as 501(c)(3) organizations.
Furthermore, some politicians also have proposed various regulations for 501(c)(3) churches in the 21st century that churches may find, at minimum, inconvenient, costly, and/or problematic.
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.
Most churches in the USA, including all the large COGs other than the Continuing Church of God that I am aware of, have applied to be 501(c)(3) registered, even though that is NOT necessary for non-profit churches. This is despite the Apostle Paul telling Christians, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of men” (1 Corinthians 7:23).
It may be that those who voluntarily accepted unnecessary “slavery” by registering as 501 (c) (3) will face more issues with the IRS than before as some have suggested.
Here is something about the Johnson Amendment:
The Johnson Amendment is a provision in the U.S. tax code, since 1954, that prohibits all 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates. (Johnson Amendment, Wikipedia, accessed 08/19/22)
Here is something that the IRS has written about 501(c)(3) organizations:
While conferring benefits on 501(c)(3) organizations, federal tax law also imposes responsibilities on organizations receiving that status.
Section 501(c)(3) organizations are required to keep books and records detailing all activities, both financial and nonfinancial. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p4220.pdf
While churches are exempted from some requirements, there are financial costs associated with filing for 501(c)(3) registration as well as ongoing documentation requirements for those to do so.
Churches that do not register as a 501(c)(3) organization simply do not have the additional 501(c)(3) requirements.
That being said, it is sometimes easier to deal with certain organizations in the world if one is a 501(c)(3) organization (as not all fully understand or appreciate the automatic church exemption).
It was, for example, a slight complication for us when we switched banks, but once we were able provide a State of California tax-exemption letter for the Continuing Church of God, there were no problems.
Squelching of Speech?
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.
WHY ALL CHURCHES SHOULD BE A 508(c)(1)(a)
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. …
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).
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 and secularization in the USA, this could become a very serious issue one day.
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.
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. …
Issue Advocacy vs . Political Campaign Intervention
Like other Section 501(c)(3) organizations, some churches and religious organi – zations 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.
Since we in the Continuing Church of God do not vote in USA elections nor endorse candidates, why could this be a concern?
Well, one problem is that speech about religious moral issues, such as abortion and homosexuality are now considered to be political. Sadly, standing for biblical morality may be considered ‘political advocacy’ by some officials. Another concern is that we tell people that Christians should not vote in worldly political elections if they can avoid it, as well as explain God’s standards for leaders.
Also, based on how the rules are interpreted, this can cause issues and has tended to squelch certain speech. For example, a strong anti-abortion sermon a few days before a local election in which one candidate is strongly pro-abortion and the other strongly anti-abortion might be considered political campaign intervention.
Furthermore, there seem to be other issues.
There are church groups (including the last Church of God this writer was associated with) that worry that taking biblical stands on anything that could be considered ‘political speech,’ even by its congregants, puts them at risk of losing their tax exempt status–so they will shun doing so.
This causes them to NOT speak out as they should.
However, in theory, leaders in 501(c)(3) groups could, according to IRS Publication 1828, make statements personally:
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. However, for their organizations to remain tax exempt under IRC Section 501(c)(3), religious leaders can’t make partisan comments in official organization publications or at official church functions. 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.
But most will not utilize this exemption as it becomes difficult for them, especially if they may have to prove that their 501(c)(3) organization did not expend funds in any way to support the individual leader.
Therefore, in this writer’s view, there are areas that many 501(c)(3) churches are too unwilling to deal with issues as the remnant of the Philadelphia portion of the Church of God should.
The Bible says:
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)
While being a 501(c)(3) church should not prevent groups from following the instructions in Isaiah 58:1, that registration status has affected many (including Church of God groups).
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.
We, in the Continuing Church of God, believe that we must teach ALL THINGS that Jesus commanded–and this would include statements in the Word of God (cf. John 1:14) that are not directly attributed to Jesus.
Consider also the following:
37 “For yet a little while,
And He who is coming will come and will not tarry.
38 Now the just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back,
My soul has no pleasure in him.”
39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:37-39)
The Bible also says:
14 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. (Matthew 24:14)
28 For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, Because the Lord will make a short work upon the earth. (Romans 9:28)
Although there is a time for the prudent to be silent (Amos 5:13), many, when they should boldly cry out, seem to prefer a ‘lukewarm,’ Laodicean‘ (Revelation 3:14-20), approach for fear of men (cf. Acts 5:29).
Does this mean that if a church never has registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit that there is nothing any government entity can ever do about what is taught?
But on practical terms, it means that if the federal government is going to attempt to squelch any type of so-called ‘political’ or ‘hate speech’ by churches, they are (at this instant) more likely to choose a 501(c)(3) registered church. The government would likely plead that it has a true public interest in a 501(c)(3) church, which would be theoretically harder to prove in court for a church not registered as 501(c)(3).
So, 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. It was cheaper to not register as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, plus we were able to avoid certain ongoing expenses and certain burdens that could reduce our efficiency.
The Continuing Church of God chose a better option. We believe that not being a 501(c)(3) registered church is best for us to fulfill Matthew 24:14, Matthew 28:19-20, etc.
Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves
While not being 501(c)(3) registered helps provide protection from some US government censorship, it is not just the governmental entities in the USA that can be issues.
16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. (Matthew 10:16-17)
Even IF not being 501(c)(3) registered absolutely guaranteed no direct government censorship, etc., governments and their employees have other ways to silence those that they want silenced.
One relatively easy way is for a governmental employee to contact a place like YouTube and claim that something online violates “community standards.” Places like YouTube have already been shown to be influenced by government employees and do not have a Church of God view on the truth.
Hence, we realize that simply not being 501(c)(3) registered is no protection. We also know this is not theoretical because YouTube once pulled a sermon by Steve Dupuie that someone claimed violated “community standards” when basically all that Steve Dupuie said was the God expects His people to obey Him.
Furthermore, since Dr. Thiel uses a Twitter feed for his posts at COGwriter.com, he realizes that Twitter has its own “community standards” that can stop “tweets” from going out.
Consider that now that the USA has relinquished control over the internet (see Internet Control, Famine of the Word, and 666), someone in our out of the government or nation of the USA could get CCOG websites shut down for some type of “community standards” complaint.
So, we try to be wise with our teachings, which Jesus implied in Matthew 10:16-17, as well Matthew 7:6.
US President Obama indicated that he was not convinced that the first amendment to the US Constitution protected what he called “conspiracy theories” (see ‘Obama Enters Media Wars: Why His Recent Attack On Free Speech Is So Dangerous & Radical). And he did not hint that his view had anything to do whether or not those which such “conspiracy theories were 501(c)(3) registered.
The USA does not have the same freedoms it once did.
A time of censorship is coming.
God inspired the prophet Amos to write:
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
“That I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine of bread,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of the Lord.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
But shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)
And that will happen whether or not a church is 501(c)(3) registered. This is not talking about an elimination of all the Bibles in the world.
Amos 8:11-12 is a reference to those teaching the truth about the Bible and the coming Kingdom of God. Aspects of this may be considered to be a ‘conspiracy theory’ but authorities who are not true Church of God Christians.
That being said, not being 501(c)(3) registered could be a factor of prolonging proclamation until Matthew 24:14 is fulfilled to God’s satisfaction. Not being 501(c)(3) registered could grant some time as the federal government may have to take some additional steps to squelch proclamation. Hence, not being 501(c)(3) registered is part of CCOG’s preparation for the short work (Romans 9:28; see also Preparing for the ‘Short Work’ and The Famine of the Word).
Squelching of Matters By COG Groups
Now, having said all that consider that at least partially because of their 501(c)(3) registration, some Church of God groups will not preach certain things that they should. It also makes them overly cautious on matters where they should be bold.
In Bob Thiel’s case, his last church was unusual. In 2009, its presiding evangelist told him that he was praying for the success of a book that Dr. Thiel had written. In 2011, the “second-in-command” evangelist prayed that Dr. Thiel would continue to do what he was doing, including COGwriter.com, with ‘Amen’ concurrence from the two other Charlotte-based evangelists of that church.
Yet, less than 10 months later, the presiding evangelist wrote Dr. Thiel that a book he wrote in 2012, that included basically the same information that was in the 2009 book and the COGwriter,com website was putting that church at risk of losing its tax-exempt status.
While Dr. Thiel thought that was absurd, it showed him that those in that organization were unwilling to be bold on topics because of the organization’s belief that being 501(c)(3) put them at risk of losing tax-exempt status.
The following scripture seems to have applicability:
9 That this is a rebellious people,
Children who will not hear the law of the Lord;
10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,”
And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things;
Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.
11 Get out of the way,
Turn aside from the path,
Cause the Holy One of Israel
To cease from before us.” (Isaiah 30:9-11)
Dr. Thiel left that organization shortly thereafter because its leaders did have integrity problems (see Why Bob Thiel Left the Living Church of God.
Anyway, it looks like the hesitation of that group to speak boldly related to political leaders carried over for that organization in 2016.
A few days after the presidential election in 2016, that organization posted the following:
Billions of people around the world woke up or stayed up to learn that Donald Trump will be the next President of the United States. While speculation abounds about what might happen next on the geopolitical scene, the world does not realize that God has a plan and that He “removes kings and raises up kings” (Daniel 2:21), and “the Most High rules in the kingdom of men” and “gives it to whomever He will” (Daniel 4:17). Today, we must not lose sight of the fact that God is guiding world affairs to accomplish His ultimate purpose—the salvation of mankind (cf. Isaiah 46:9-10).
A Christian’s primary focus is not to solve all of this world’s problems, but to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). The Apostle Paul advised Christians to pray for “all who are in authority, that we [the Church] may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence” (1 Timothy 2:2). He also admonished Christians to “be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Romans 13:1). “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise,” and He will accomplish His plan (2 Peter 3:9). God allows certain leaders to emerge at specific times in history to help fulfill His ultimate purpose for mankind and to prepare for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. This is the good news which ultimately gives us “a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). (TW News & Prophecy, November 11, 2016)
While the above is true, it was not ‘hot’ nor was it completely ‘cold.’ That group remains very guarded about what it is willing to state. Consider also how it truncated Daniel 4:17, above, as it left out the last several words:
17 ‘This decision is by the decree of the watchers,
And the sentence by the word of the holy ones,
In order that the living may know
That the Most High rules in the kingdom of men,
Gives it to whomever He will,
And sets over it the lowest of men.’ (Daniel 4:17)
The Continuing Church of God quoted the entire verse in its Letter to the Brethren: November 10, 2016.
Now, unwillingness to boldly teach is also true of many other COG groups.
Jesus warned in the end times, most Christians would be Laodiceans. Notice some of what Jesus said related to them:
14 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write,
‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘” (Revelation 3:14-22)
Sadly, many are too satisfied with not being ‘hot.’
Unlike other groups, in the Continuing Church of God we took a much bolder approach. Dr. Thiel warned of some of what would happen before that election, as well as after that election.
For example, the CCOG sermonette recommended for the Sabbath after the election was 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic. Dr. Thiel also wrote about what to expect from the Europeans a day BEFORE the election (see Germans opposed to Donald Trump, but not too optimistic about Hillary Clinton), and just reported on why that was correct a day or two later (see As foretold here, more calls for a European army! Guttenberg: ‘There will be a terrible awakening for Europe’).
Should Churches Avoid All Aspects of Politics?
Should churches completely avoid matters considered to be political?
Well, not if they are committed to following the example of Jesus or God’s prophets.
The Bible says to tell people of their sins. In conjunction with the two US presidential candidates, the Letter to the Brethren: October 13, 2016 stated:
When I have considered various statements that those two candidates have made in the course of their lives, the following scriptures came to mind:
23 … be sure your sin will find you out (Numbers 32:23).
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. (Galatians 6:7)
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (2 Timothy 3:1-7)
We are getting closer to the end. Future USA political decisions will help enable this (cf. Romans 1:18-32; Daniel 11:39).
And after Donald Trump’s election, some of specific areas of sin related to Donald Trump were pointed out with repentance being urged (watch 13 Ways President-Elect Trump is Apocalyptic). And we taught that the Kingdom of God was the answer (see Letter to the Brethren dated November 10, 2016).
The prophet Isaiah, for one example, wrote, “Woe to those who decree unrighteous decrees” (Isaiah 10:1).
Certainly that was a political statement.
Jesus, Himself, called out the Pharisees, scribes, and lawyers in His time for some of their sins including their decrees (Luke 11:39-52).
Furthermore, consider that Jesus was killed for what was called religious political speech:
59 Now the chief priests, the elders, and all the council sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death, 60 but found none. Even though many false witnesses came forward, they found none. But at last two false witnesses came forward 61 and said, “This fellow said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to build it in three days.'”
62 And the high priest arose and said to Him, “Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?” 63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest answered and said to Him, “I put You under oath by the living God: Tell us if You are the Christ, the Son of God!”
64 Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
65 Then the high priest tore his clothes, saying, “He has spoken blasphemy! What further need do we have of witnesses? Look, now you have heard His blasphemy! 66 What do you think?”
They answered and said, “He is deserving of death.” (Matthew 26:59-66)
7 The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and according to our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.”
8 Therefore, when Pilate heard that saying, he was the more afraid, 9 and went again into the Praetorium, and said to Jesus, “Where are You from?” But Jesus gave him no answer.
10 Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?”
11 Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above. Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”
12 From then on Pilate sought to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, “If you let this Man go, you are not Caesar’s friend. Whoever makes himself a king speaks against Caesar.”
13 When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus out and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called The Pavement, but in Hebrew, Gabbatha. 14 Now it was the Preparation Day of the Passover, and about the sixth hour. And he said to the Jews, “Behold your King!”
15 But they cried out, “Away with Him, away with Him! Crucify Him!”
Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?”
The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”
16 Then he delivered Him to them to be crucified. Then they took Jesus and led Him away. (John 19:7-16)
Jesus was to be King in the Kingdom of God–the right hand of the Power–and that upset the Jewish leaders. Pilate did not want to kill Jesus, but because aspects of Jesus’ message were considered to be political, he did not want to take a chance, so he had Jesus killed.
The Gospel of the Kingdom of God is often considered to be a political message. Yet, it is a message that MUST be proclaimed in these end times (Matthew 24:14).
But what about pointing out sins of political leaders?
Consider that the prophet Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar to stop sinning in Daniel 4:17. Consider also that God sent prophets to kings of Israel and Judah to tell them that sins would result in various disasters.
Aspects of what MUST be preached are political.
Hence, avoiding something like 501(c)(3) registration is wise when it can be done.
The Continuing Church of God Chose Another Way
In addition to being exempt under 501(c)(3), as well as the protections under the first amendment to the Constitution of the United States, the Continuing Church of God is basically considered, legally, to function under 508(a)(c)(1)(A):
Sec. 508. — Special rules with respect to section 501c3 organizations
(a) New organizations must notify Secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status
Except as provided in subsection (c), an organization organized after October 9, 1969, shall not be treated as an organization described in section 501(c)(3)
(1) Mandatory exceptions
(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches,
As far as tax-deductibility of donations, that is covered under IRS publication 526 that states:
Deductible As Charitable Contributions
Money or property you give to: Churches, synagogues, temples, mosques, and other religious organizations.
So, while the Continuing Church of God is legally exempt from registering under 501(c)(3), because of regulations like 501(c)(3) and 508(a)(c)(1)(A), donations to the Continuing Church of God are tax deductible in the USA.
But, because the home office of the Continuing Church of God is in the State of California, we were required by State statute to have our tax exempt status as reviewed by the State of California. The State of California essentially verified that the Continuing Church of God was a bona fide church, when it approved the mandated documentation in 2013 we submitted and gave us State of California nonprofit tax exempt status. That tax exempt status was approved in 2013 and remains in effect.
Unlike 501(c)(3), there was no filing fee and the State of California imposes no additional requirements for record-keeping for churches. Nor does it have regulatory speech restrictions that are in any legal way connected to attaining of the tax-exemption letter from the Franchise Tax Board of the State of California.
Here is some of what the State of California’s Franchise Tax Board’s Exempt Determination Letter to the Continuing Church of God Overseer and Successors, a Corporation Sole states:
To retain tax-exempt status, the organization must be organized and operating for nonprofit purposes within the provisions of the above R&TC section. An inactive organization is not entitled to tax-exempt status
So, basically to remain a tax-exempt organization, we must continue to operate. And the plan is for the Continuing Church of God to operate until we flee to the wilderness (Revelation 12:14-16) just prior to the start of the Great Tribulation.
In a sense, being based in the State of California is the best of both worlds as far as the USA is concerned: we do not need to register as a 501(c)(3) nor be under its requirements and restrictions and we have governmental certification that the Continuing Church of God is specifically approved as a tax-exempt organization.
The Continuing Church of God accept tithes, offerings, and other financial donations.
Those who wish to voluntarily aid and support this worldwide Work of God are gladly welcomed as co-workers in this major effort to preach and publish the gospel to all nations per Matthew 24:14 and Matthew 28:19-20.
Our mailing address is Continuing Church of God, 1036 W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach, CA 93433.
Some have sent checks, others cash, others money orders, and some even have used Western Union to donate. We also accept bank transfers. We also do have a way to accept donations via VISA/MasterCard/Discover.
We do accept donations via PayPal (which also will handle many major credit cards). Simply click on the Donate button below and you can enter any amount that you wish to donate to the Continuing Church of God:
Donations to the Continuing Church of God are 100% deductible in all the US states (subject to the usual federal and state limits).
New Zealand governmental charitable status was also attained, and hence donations in New Zealand are also fully tax deductible. Check out CCOG.nz as you have to send donations to New Zealand for them to be deductible there.
Tax exempt status in Canada was also approved by their government, and hence donations in Canada are also fully tax deductible. Check out CCOGCANADA.CA as you have to send donations to Canada for them to be deductible there.
Some items of perhaps related interest include:
Tithing Questions and Some Answers Answers questions about tithing and also addresses some non-biblical arguments against tithing. Should people tithe? Here is a link to a related video sermon Tithing Answers from the Bible.
Why is the Continuing Church of God a corporation sole? What is a ‘corporation sole’ and why is this a better organizational choice? A related sermon is titled: CCOG, a corporation sole, not a 501(c)(3).
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 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, French: L’Histoire Continue de l’Église de Dieu and Ekegusii Omogano Bw’ekanisa Ya Nyasae Egendererete.