America has suffered since church deal

Published 10:41 pm Thursday, October 30, 2008

To the Editor:

As we hurtle toward the latest presidential election, at a time in which many of the Christian faith wonder what has happened (at breakneck speed) to our traditional, moral culture in recent years, one has to also ask the question, “What happened to the influence of the church, which guided in large measure the founding of this public?”

I can tell you what happened: The church sold its voice and influence for little more than “thirty pieces of silver.”

Historically, the church in America has always been more or less tax-exempt. But in 1954, changes were made to the tax code which specified that nonprofit organizations, which include the churches, would only remain tax-exempt if they refrained from endorsing candidates for election.

In accepting that exemption, the church allowed itself to be muzzled, and the world rejoiced. No longer could the church point out who were the most moral candidates for office, and who did not deserve the church’s endorsement.

From that restriction evolved further self-limitations, resulting in the church nervously avoiding all comments on political matters, fearing that the precious exemption could be endangered.

Eventually, those unchurched candidates got elected, and voted for laws and judges that diminished the positive influence of the church in America. Remember, the church was not forced to accept these conditions — it was always free to reject the exemption and speak freely on any issue. It still is.

Unfortunately, the leadership believes the church will bring in more donations if the church remains tax-exempt, and the almighty dollar remains paramount, ahead of the church’s influence in a lost world.

What happened to “God will provide for the faithful?”

I have to ask, “What would Jesus think of this”?

If Christians think He is happy seeing His church hiding its light under a bushel, in exchange for a tax exemption, then I believe we are sadly mistaken.

I cannot imagine this was His plan for America, but since 1954, don’t you think we have suffered mightily in this “bargain”?

J. R. Ferguson