Churches and Government

Congressman Ron Paul has written an important report. It deals with the politicians’ public praise of John Paul II and their voting records, which show that they opposed him at every turn. The report mentions the Federal government’s threat to churches: to remove their tax-exempt status. This threat has produced lapdog churches, which is what the politicians want.

Historically, religion always represented a threat to government because it competes for the loyalties of the people. In modern America, however, most religious institutions abandoned their independence long ago, and now serve as cheerleaders for state policies like social services, faith-based welfare, and military aggression in the name of democracy. Few American churches challenge state actions at all, provided their tax-exempt status is maintained. This is why Washington politicians ostensibly celebrate religion — it no longer threatens their supremacy. Government has co-opted religion and family as the primary organizing principle of our society. The federal government is boss, and everybody knows it.

Once again, let me recommend that churches that are presently set up under the Internal Revenue Service’s 501C(3) tax exemption requirements send the IRS a letter saying that they are no longer claiming exemption under this section of the Internal Revenue Code. This is because every church is automatically tax-exempt. No church has to ask permission of the U.S. government.

Read the language from the website of the Internal Revenue Service. The key word is “except.”

Except for churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and public charities whose annual gross receipts are normally less than $5,000, organizations will not be treated as described in section 501C(3) unless they notify the IRS that they are applying for recognition of section 501C(3) status.

From another page:

Annual Exempt Organization Information Returns

Every organization exempt from federal income tax under Internal Revenue Code section 501(a) must file an annual information return except:

A church, an interchurch organization of local units of a church, a convention or association of churches, An integrated auxiliary of a church,A church-affiliated organization that is exclusively engaged in managing funds or maintaining retirement programs,A school below college level affiliated with a church or operated by a religious order, even though it is not an integrated auxiliary of a church,Certain church-affiliated mission societies that conduct activities in foreign countries, or activities directed at persons in foreign countries,An exclusively religious activity of any religious order. . . .

There is no good reason for an American church to apply to the government for anything. If a church or a church-based school is accepting money from the government for faith-based initiatives, it is time to pull the feeding tube. There is no such thing as free money from the government. There are always strings attached.

April 14, 2005

Gary North [send him mail] is the author of Mises on Money. Visit

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