Can The Government Take Away A Church’s 501c3 Status: Its Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners! Always answering your questions from constitutional principles! Tune in today as we answer your most pressing questions!

Air Date: 09/05/2019

On-air Personalities: David Barton, Rick Green, and Tim Barton


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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast. Transcription will be released shortly. However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers. Additionally, names may be misspelled or we might use an asterisk to indicate a missing word because of the difficulty in understanding the speaker at times. We apologize in advance.

Abraham Lincoln said, “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts. Not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.”

Faith and the Culture

Rick:

Welcome to the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re talking about today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and the culture, always doing that from a Biblical, historical, and Constitutional perspective.

We’re here with David Barton, America’s premier historian and the founder of WallBuilders. Also, Tim Barton, national speaker and President of WallBuilders, and my name is Rick Green, I’m a former Texas state legislator, national speaker, and author.

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It’s Foundations of Freedom Thursday, a special day of the week where we get to answer questions from you, the listeners. Always answering your questions from constitutional principles. Send your questions in to [email protected]

David, Tim, let’s dive into our questions today. We’re gonna try to get to three or four; we’ll see how many we get to today.

Tax Exemptions for Churches

The first one’s coming from Linda and has to do with tax exemptions for churches. Good question here: “Somewhere I thought the Founding Fathers exempted churches from taxation by the federal government. Is there a phrase in the U.S. Constitution?

“The church we attend is actually afraid to violate the 501(c)(3) law. My husband and I are a retirement age and know that when we hit age 70-and-a-half, we have to withdraw a certain percent of our investments each year that were tax-exempt contributions and pay taxes on that. But, if we make those contributions to our church or other charitable organizations like Wall Builders–” hey, great idea, Linda.

We appreciate you mentioning that. Yes, everybody out there listening: charitable contributions, Wall Builders is a great place to do that. Anyway she said, “We wouldn’t have to pay taxes on that part of the withdrawal. What would happen if the 501(c)(3)’s revoked like President Trump promised?”

Guys, I don’t know what she’s referring to there; so, we’ll get to that question as well. “Isn’t there still some law about churches being tax exempt? I’d rather our church not have to worry about the Johnson Amendment;” we’ll talk about what that means as well.

I also understand that the new tax laws are different; so, we might not meet to qualifier for deducting our charitable deductions anyway.” All right. So, Linda’s got a lot of questions packed into this particular e-mail. David, Tim, let’s tackle those one at a time.

The Johnson Amendment

First of all, tell me what the Johnson Amendment is.

DAVID:

Well, actually, Rick, in doing that, let me back up and just give the overview of why there was a Johnson Amendment and the 501(c)(3).

RICK:

Okay.

DAVID:

A 501(c)(3) is the government’s recognition that you’re a non-profit organization and that what you do is so beneficial that they’re not going to tax you, because you create more benefit than what the income of the taxes would be. So, what happens with that is, they look at an organization like the Salvation Army, which is also a church. But, they say, “Salvation Army does so much good for the poor, homeless, and others, that for us to give them a tax exemption is cheaper than it is for us

to pay all the things that we would have to pay to create the same good they create.”

So, what happens is, with nonprofits they say, “Okay, you guys you’re doing so much good that you actually save the government money because we’re not having to do that good.” Now, that’s for nonprofits. Churches are also nonprofits; but, they’re a different thing.

“The Power to Tax Is the power to Destroy.”

And, historically, the Church is not taxed by the government because–you go back to an early Supreme Court when case Founding Father John Marshall said, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” If you can tax this church, you can destroy the church. If you want to put churches out of commission, just start raising the taxes on them; make it really, really expensive to be a church.

Well, that’s why they’re nonprofit, because they do God’s work and they’re not to be taxed by the government for doing God’s work. So, churches get what’s called a “letter of recognition.” That letter of record is by the IRS, saying, “We recognize you as a nonprofit.”

That letter does not give them a nonprofit status; it recognizes they are already nonprofit. So, a church is non-profit whether or not they have a 501(c)(3) standing or not. They’re not going to be taxed simply because they are church; that’s American policy and actually biblically sound.

You go back to Ezra 7:25 or 7:25. It says: “You’re not to tax the priest, the temple, or religious leaders.” So, that’s always been our policy in America.

It is the Left’s Paper Tiger

RICK:

Just to just to drive that home so everybody gets that: If your pastors are concerned out there–because they get intimidated all the time by people making them think they’re gonna lose their 501(c)(3) status. And, we just need to remind everybody that it is a paper tiger by the left. They try to threaten churches.

What David just said, take that. You guys need to get one of these groups like First Liberty or one of the others that they will give you all the documents. We can we can put some links today at WallBuildersLive.com.

But, we just need to really make sure that pastors and the folks in the congregation heard and understand that they don’t have to file for some special 501(c)(3) status to have tax exemption for those churches. That is something that’s embedded in our tradition and our precedent here in America; it has been from the beginning.

DAVID:

Now, a church is different from 501(c)(3) organization like WallBuilders. WallBuilders is not a church. We provide services, non-profit services.

The government recognizes that; so, we have a tax exemption. If you contribute to WallBuilders, you can take it off your taxes. But, we’re not a church.

So, the government can put us out of business as far as tax exemptions go. We would then exist as a profit company or whatever. But, a church is not that way.

The government cannot put a church out of business by saying, “We’re going to tax you.” It’s a whole different thing. So, nonprofit 501(c)(3) status can be granted by the government to educational organizations, to charitable organizations, to various foundations that do something for the public good, but not for a church.

Lyndon Baines Johnson and 501(c)(3)s

So, what happened was, back in 1954 when Lyndon Baines Johnson was running for Senate in Texas, U.S. senator, he was criticized by several wealthy businessmen in Texas who didn’t like his policies, his morals, or what he was doing. And, they took out ads against him through their companies, through their businesses. They had what today we would call kind of “527-type of organizations,” which were nonprofit, and they criticized him.

Well, what happened was, LBJ did not like being criticized for his lack of morals, his behavior, and his beliefs. I think they accused him of links to communism and other things. So, when he got in the Senate when he was elected, he added a rider to an appropriation bill that says: “If you’re a 501(c)(3) organization, you can say nothing about political leaders but just keep your mouth shut.”

It was really to protect himself from criticism. “So, I’m going to limit your free speech; and, because you’re a 501(c)(3), the government’s going to take away your free speech.” And, that’s what happened in 1954; it’s called “The Johnson Amendment.”

Now, he was not after churches at all. He was not even looking at churches but was looking at these outside organizations, nonprofits. And, about 10 years later, the IRS looked at that and said, “Hey, look at this: churches are 501(c)(3); we can apply this to churches.”

So, what happened was, some critics started saying, “Churches can’t say anything about politics either. They can’t talk about policy or leaders.” Well, they’ve said that; so, the Johnson Amendment is now interpreted to say the churches can’t talk about it.

But do you know what? It’s interesting. No church has lost their–I think one church in 50 years has lost their letter of recognition, and it was only for a day.

It was reinstated after a day. So, essentially, churches do not come under this. And, most people don’t know that.

Alliance Defending Freedom

Now, we’ve tried to help publicize that a WallBuilders by working with groups like Alliance Defending Freedom and others. And, we’ve helped turn in nearly 7,500 pastors to the IRS, asking the IRS to take away their tax exemption. “Hey, this pastor talked about politics.”

I remember Pastor Gus Booth at Warroad Community Church in Minnesota. In the primary, he said, “Hey, look. You’ve got people running for U.S. president here on the Democrat side.

“Here’s what they say about abortion, marriage, etc. You cannot as a Christian vote for these candidates running for president.” So, he endorsed from the pulpit, or actually anti-endorsed; he took a biblical position.

So, he’s one of the guys we turned in. We sent that the IRS: “You’ve got to come after him.” We did that because we wanted the IRS to remove the tax exemption of a church so that we could get that into court and show that it can’t be done.

Now, this has been going more than a decade. Again, nearly 7,500 churches have been turned in; and, the IRS refuses to go after any of them because it knows it does not have the power to go after churches. So, this is where churches live under a big fiction: when they think that because they are a 501(c)(3), as church they can’t talk about this stuff.

Yes, you can! That Johnson Amendment was never designed to go after churches. It was designed to go after businesses that the government recognized as doing something charitable or educational.

A Church Has Greater Protection

And, yeah, you maybe could argue that if the government can give you a tax exemption, it could take it away. But, with churches, government doesn’t give it. God gives it.

But, with the church, the precedent is that the Bible said, “Hey, you don’t tax churches, temples, religious leaders, or priests, etc.” And, from a policy standpoint, the power to tax is the power to destroy. And, we did not want the government to have the power to destroy churches.

So, the {answer to the} question she’s asked is: you should not ever worry about it as a church. As a church, you should move forward with your free speech rights as guaranteed by the Constitution. Plus, you have religious protections.

In some ways, the First Amendment actually gives greater protection for religious organizations because they get the free-speech protection. And, in addition, they get the religious liberty protection. So, there’s great protection there.

A 501(c)(3) should never worry about that, as church leader. And, from Linda’s standpoint, she’s going to continue to be able to take that tax deduction for her church. President Trump had wanted that Johnson Amendment completely gone.

But, whether it’s gone or not, does not change the fact that churches are not going to be taxed. Their tax exemption is not going to be taken away if they talk about something in the culture.

RICK:

And, that clarifies what she meant by “501(c)(3) revoked by President Trump.” What she meant was, he wants to get rid of the Johnson Amendment, which was the threat against 501(c)(3)s out there and churches.

As we’re going to break, I want to encourage people to look take advantage of those charitable donations, those deductions. It’s much better to have your money going to private organizations that are doing good in the culture, than heading off to the federal government where it’s going to get wasted. So, make sure you’re looking for good organizations like WallBuilders to give to and, certainly, donating to your church because the Church should be the epicenter of the community where those needs are met.

Stay with us, folks, we’ll be right back. You’re listening to WallBuilders Live!

Be At All Times Armed

Thomas Jefferson said, “The constitutions of most of our states, and of the United States, assert that all power is inherent in the people that they may exercise it by themselves that it is their right and duty to be at all times armed. That they are entitled to freedom of person, freedom of religion, freedom of property, and freedom of press.”

Front Sight Handgun Training Course

Hey friends! Rick Green here, from WallBuilders Live! What do Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, Ben Shapiro, Rick Green, Tim Barton, David Barton – what do all these folks have in common other than the fact that they’re conservative commentators that defend the Constitution and educate America on the Constitution?

They’re all raving about Front Sight Firearms Training Institute. In fact, if you go to my website right now today at RickGreen.com, you can watch the video of Dennis Prager training at Front Sight, or Larry Elder, or Tim Barton, or myself out there training at Front Sight. It’s an opportunity for you to learn how to defend yourself and your family to make sure that you are ready and able to do that. It is a fantastic place to train. They train 30 to 40,000 people a year, and they’re just wonderful to work with.

And, you can go with us! We’re headed back out. We’re going to have a great time out there as the WallBuilders family and if you’re a supporter of WallBuilders, we have an amazing deal for you. It’s actually going to cost you 1/10th the normal price to attend this two day handgun training because you’re going with us. And, you’ll also get the Constitution crash course. I’ll be teaching on the Constitution, you’ll get the intellectual ammunition that you need to defend the Second Amendment and our Constitution. As well as getting the physical training on how to defend yourself and your family.

And, this is for everyone – guys, gals, everyone should take this class. No matter how much you’ve shot your whole life or if you’ve never touched a gun, learn how to defend your family. We’re going to be going several times throughout the year and we would love to have you be a part of that. Check it out at RickGreen.com today to find out the dates, get all the specifics, and get all of your questions answered. Check out RickGreen.com today to join us on this Front Sight trip for both your constitutional and handgun defense training.

Greatest Political Privilege

President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”

RICK:

We’re back our WallBuilders Live! Foundations of Freedom Thursday today, which means we’re taking your questions. Be sure and send them in to [email protected]

We’ll get to as many as we can. David, Tim, the next one comes from Connie. I have never heard this.

This is just–I love it when we get totally new, off-the-wall questions that I’m clueless on. You guys might be familiar with this; but, it’s something about called “Copperheads.” Here’s her question.

Copperheads and Confederates

“What’s the difference between Copperheads and the Confederates?” So, it’s a term used during the Civil War. She said, “I started looking into their catechism,” meaning the catechism book of these Copperheads, “and they had some surprising views like: ‘Hate the {N-word} and the abolitionist.’

“I’d love to learn more about this. Thank you. You are a blessing.”

So, I guess these folks hated both sides. What were the Copperheads in the Civil War?

DAVID:

Well, actually, they only hated one side. They hated the side that took the case and fought for the rights of black folks. So, that was the abolitionist.

RICK:

Okay. They hated abolitionists because they were defending the blacks right.

DAVID:

That’s right. So, they only took one side. “Copperheads” is a big term that you hear after the Civil War. Understand what happened in the Civil War.

You essentially have a group of Southern Democrats fighting the rest of the nation. Democrats, Southern and Northern Democrats, were pro-slavery. Their platform is very clear.

Pro-Slavery Democrats

In the Democrat platform, they gave out the Dred Scott decision with their platform, to prove that Hey, blacks are inferior and don’t have rights etc. Then, when it came time to secede, the Southern Democrats said, “We’re not going to be part of a nation that thinks blacks are equal tries to free them.” The Northern Democrats said, “We agree with slavery; but, we’re not going to split the nation up over the issue.”

So, the Northern Democrats, particularly in New York which was really a hotbed of Northern Democrats–they were called “Union Democrats.” They were pro-slavery; but, they did not want to break up the Union. Then, you had Secessionist Democrats, the Southern Democrats said, “We’re going to create our own nation.”

So, those 11 states in the Southern Confederacy, you have the Civil War. Those 11 states are defeated. Then, you have federal troops move in, take over those 11 states, try to bring them back into the Union, get them on board with the 13th, 14th, 15th, civil rights amendments.

And, a lot of Northern Democrats started moving into the southern areas. So, the Northern Democrats that move into the southern areas are known as “carpetbaggers” or “Copperheads.” Now, what’s a copperhead?

A Painful Bite

A copperhead is a snake that will bite you. It’s a painful bite. It is a dangerous thing.

You had all these pro-Union Democrats that are still anti-black, anti-abolitionists. They’re now moving into the south. And so, instead of helping bring the South back in, these guys are still keeping the racism alive.

So, people in the North, the Republicans particularly, the abolitionist, and others, called them “Copperheads” because they were dangerous. They were snakes who were coming in to keep the Civil War conflict alive. And so, that’s where it comes from.

That’s why, when you look at the catechism of the Copperheads, which are really Union Democrats from the North that are moving into the South, taking advantage of what they can take advantage of after the Civil War, whether sheep land–because now, so much land has been destroyed.

They could buy a bunch of land and set up manufacturing down there. They had all this cheap labor. Those are the guys moving and taking advantage of it.

RICK:

Well, now I’m very confused, David, because you referred to the Southern Democrats wanting to keep slavery and then seceding. The Northern Democrats wanted slavery, but wanted to keep the Union together. I thought the Democrats were the ones defending the black community.

Who Was Actually Fighting to End Slavery?

Who was it that was actually fighting for freeing the slaves?
DAVID:

The ones that were fighting for freeing the slaves, primarily were Republicans. When the Republicans were founded in May of 1854, their platform was really simple, and it was nearly all civil rights. We actually have the original 1856 Republican platform, as well as the 1860, 1864–and the Democrat platforms.

The Democrat platforms are clearly, openly, expressly pro-slavery: blacks do not have rights; they’re inferior people. The Republicans are: blacks have equal rights and should have equal rights; we’re fighting for equal rights of blacks. That was Republican versus Democrat.

And, if this seems really strange to people, I recommend you get a hold of our video or book called American History in Black and White: Setting the Record Straight. And, you will find out that nearly every Southern Republican Party was started by black folks, not white folks. Also, in Texas, our Republican Party of Texas was started on the Fourth of July 1867, by 150 blacks and 20 whites.

American History in Black and White

Two of the first three chairman of the Republican Party of Texas were blacks. So, that was very common.

In fact, here is a list of the number of blacks who were the first elected blacks in their states and also were Republicans:

Texas – 41

South Carolina – 190

Georgia – 41

Alabama – 99

Louisiana – 137

Blacks were adamantly Republican at that point in time because Republicans were the ones who said, “Equality.”

So, what’s happened since the 1920s and ‘30s, is there’s been a re-writing of history, if you will, to say, “Blacks were always Democrats. Democrats always supported blacks; Republicans were always the racists.”

Not true. And, terms like “Copperheads” is one of the indications of that historically. But again, I recommend American History in Black and White: Setting the Record Straight. It is pure historical documents on the origin of both parties and their position on civil rights.

Can The Government Take Away A Church’s 501c3 Status

RICK:

Well, you asked if that seems strange to people as we talk about that. I guarantee you it does, because so many people out there–I had the exact opposite impression of that history. In fact, it is one of the cool things, going through the WallBuilders library, you see so much of this is evidence for these things.

But, this truth has to get out there. It is called American History in Black and White: Setting the Record Straight and is available WallBuilders.com today. It will also show you how the KKK was such an instrumental part of the Democrat Party and an arm of the Democrat Party being used to wreak havoc.

We’ve got to take a quick break, guys. There is one more question we’re gonna get to today. Stay with us, folks; you’re listening to WallBuilders Live!

Questions of Power

Thomas Jefferson said, “In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.”

Share a veteran’s story

We Want to Hear Your Vet Story

Rick:

Hey friends! If you have been listening to WallBuilders Live! for very long at all, you know how much we respect our veterans and how appreciative we are of the sacrifice they make to make our freedoms possible. One of the ways that we love to honor those veterans is to tell their stories here on WallBuilders Live.  Once in awhile, we get an opportunity to interview veterans that have served on those front lines that have made
incredible sacrifices have amazing stories that we want to share with the American people.

One of the very special things we get to do is interview World War II veterans. You’ve heard those interviews here on WallBuilders Live, from folks that were in the Band of Brothers, to folks like Edgar Harrell that survived the Indianapolis to so many other great stories you heard on WallBuilders Live.

You have friends and family that also served.  If you have World War II veterans in your family that you would like to have their story shared here on WallBuilders Live, please e-mail us at [email protected]  Give us a brief summary of the story and we’ll set up an interview. Thanks so much for sharing here on WallBuilders Live!

Liberties and Freedom Are Worth Defending

Samuel Adams said, “The liberties of our Country and the freedom of our civil Constitution are worth defending against hazards. And, it is our duty to defend them against all attacks.”

RICK:

Welcome back to WallBuilders Live! Foundations of Freedom Thursday. Time for one more question. And, Holly from Minnesota gets the question.

Naturalization Act of 1790

Here it is: “What is the history surrounding the Naturalization Act of 1790? Why was it made that only white immigrants could become citizens?”

Guys, I’m clueless on this one. What do about the Naturalization Act of 1790?

DAVID:

The Naturalization Act 1790, is the first immigration act passed by Congress. And, it set forth what it takes to be an immigrant to America. If you come here you have to be able to provide your own income for five years.

If you become a public ward of the government within five years, you go back home. You have to have good moral character and a religious recommendation from some organization. So, it was all about character and the type of people you wanted as inhabitants.

So, why is it white? Because this is part of the anti-slavery thing, that we’re not looking for more slaves to come in. It was shortly after this that George Washington passed the law that forbid the exportation of any slaves out of America.

And, Congress had already been notified by the Constitution that Hey we’re going to ban the slave trade as well. We don’t want more slaves coming into America. And, you have to realize that at that point in time, we’re still in the middle of the Atlantic slave trade.

An Anti-Slavery Sentiment

And, sentiment against that is growing. So, there’s lots of slave ships coming out of Africa. We know that over that that four centuries, about 12.7 million slaves were taken out to Africa; and, while most of them did not come to the United States–the United States only got about 2.5 percent of all the slaves sent out of Africa.

Still, there was growing sentiment against the slave trade in America, saying, “Hey, we need to get out of slavery and end the slave trade.” So, that’s kind of the tone at the time this law is passed. Therefore, while this looks racist today, in the context of the times, this is really more about We’re not after more slaves coming in.

And, at that point, it was primarily whites who were not slaves and blacks who were. I mean, it was that–pretty simple. So, that’s part of it. Also, you say, “Well, how about Native Americans?”

Native Americans had their own nation under the Constitution. So, they’re not part of this nation because they had their own, and they liked their own. Now, a law was passed that allowed them to be part of the nation of the United States as well.

Eventually–they didn’t want that initially. That happened more than a century later. But, at that point time, that’s why Native Americans would not have been included, because they didn’t want to be included.

They had their own nations, and we recognized that in the Constitution. So, it’s kind of a simple answer to that. It’s not as complicated as it seems.

And, certainly, in today’s culture, where “white” and “black” are polarizing terms, it was not intended to be that way. The intent was more of Let’s not bring more slaves into America. And generally, that was someone who was not white.

RICK:

Okay, guys, we had some really good questions today. And, we like to encourage people, after our Foundations of Freedom Thursdays, to ask questions on their Facebook page, of friends and family just in conversation, and then let us know what kind of responses that they’re getting.

I think maybe one of the ones from today that’ll be a fun one for people to ask is: Does your church have to apply for 501(c)(3) status? Can the government take away 501(c)(3) status? The easiest way to probably ask that is: Does your church have to apply for 501(c)(3) status, or are they automatically tax exempt?

That’d be a fun one to ask. Let’s see what people out there are saying. Be sure to go to our website today and let us know what kind of responses that you were getting. We are out of time for today.

That is all the Foundations of Freedom you’re going to get on this Thursday. But, you can get more next Thursday as well. Be sure to tune in tomorrow for Good News Friday.

Then, of course, Monday through Wednesday, some of those great interviews that we have the opportunity to share with you as well. Check out WallBuildersLive.com today if you’d like to dive into some of the archives over the past few months and listen to some of those past programs.

Then, of course, hover over and click on that “donate” button and make that one-time or monthly contribution. You become a part of the team when you do that. It’s your way of supporting us and coming alongside us to help to expand this ministry and message, so that we can help restore America’s Constitution.

We sure appreciate you listening today. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live!

Greatest Political Privilege

President Calvin Coolidge said, “The more I study the Constitution, the more I realize that no other document devised by the hand of man has brought so much progress and happiness to humanity. To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race.”