American government is guilty of abusing the Church. Jesus is not happy when people mess with His Bride!
The story of the Bible is that the Father is preparing a Bride for His Son. The culmination of the story is a wedding feast for Jesus and His Bride! Jesus loved this Bride so much that He even gave His life for her. In this season He is working to make this beloved Bride spotless, wrinkle and blemish free.
He does not take kindly to those who would use her for selfish agendas. That includes church leaders who manipulate her for ego or financial gain. That also includes political leaders who see the Church as a means for political gain.
Let me be bold!! America has entered a dangerous place before God. There will be repercussions. Jesus, our Husband, will not tolerate abuse of his Bride.
Our government has crossed the line in seeking to silence the Church. Political parties profane the holiness of the Church on an ongoing basis.
Let me give you two examples. (And then recommendations to stop this crisis.)
IRS Ruling of 1954
In 1954, then-Senator Lyndon Johnson was mad at two anti-communist nonprofits that aggressively opposed his election. In reaction he inserted language into the IRS code that prohibited nonprofits, including churches, from opposing or endorsing candidates. (For the full story – http://www.firebuilders.org/JAmCEC.htm )
That quiet, insignificant action almost 60 years ago, massively, negatively changed the spiritual dynamics between the Church and American government.
Throughout American history, the Church was free and unrestricted to speak to the moral and spiritual issues of the day. The nation’s pastors addressed immorality and corruption in politics and government (and anywhere else they found it). THIS IS THE PROPHETIC ROLE OF THE CHURCH.
I personally have run headlong into the shift of 1954. During the last decade I have worked on several campaigns including a presidential, governor and Detroit city council race. I continually had to clarify for pastors what they could and could not do according to the IRS. I have come to completely despise these controls exercised over the Church. I believe the 1954 ruling is fueling the current misguided, popular, public conversation about the separation of Church and State.
The IRS 501c3 limitation is wrong on two levels.
First, it is unconstitutional. The First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise” of religion. Telling a church what it can and cannot say is unconstitutional. Religious liberty is core to America’s identity. Religious liberty is not something we do, it is what we are! Johnson’s action 60 years ago poked a hole in the dyke of religious liberty and now we are reaping the deluge. The Obamacare mandate for providing contraceptives goes beyond health care. It is a monstrous overreach of government demanding that religious people to violate their conscience. Our current unconstitutional trajectory began in 1954.
Second, it is unBiblical. God created and ordained both powers – Church and Government. History is full of horrible examples of when the Church tried to rule the State and when the State tried to rule the Church. God made them uniquely different. American government has put a muzzle on Jesus’ Bride. He will not let that situation stand, just as no righteous husband would let his wife suffer such an indignity.
Only one thing should control the words of the Bride – God Himself. The Church is beholden to One. We do not need Big Brother monitoring our pulpits. Our pastors are wise to know what should be said from the pulpit. I trust them to speak for God, not to learn to dance with the IRS.
God WILL correct this situation! He loves His Bride
Political Micro Targeting
In 2000, political geniuses Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, the National Republican Party Chairman, successfully perfected a political tactic called micro targeting. The basic idea is to develop a massive national database that identifies the voting habits and values of each voter in America. Republican’s call their database, Voter Vault. The Democrat’s, Demzilla.
While I worked in 2006 on the governor’s race in MI, the Republican National Committee sent me to Las Vegas for five days of training on micro targeting. The point of developing a massive, accurate database was to be able to message with mailings and phone calls specifically to different groups. Gun enthusiasts, small business, veterans, home schoolers, social conservatives, etc. The RNC plan for those working with the faith community was to get (by any means possible) the church directories of conservative leaning churches. That information would be uploaded into Voter Vault so church folks could be micro targeted with prolife and traditional marriage messages.
If you can’t see the problem yet, let me be plain.
The Church is not one more demographic voting bloc to be manipulated by politicians for their own purposes.
And to be fair, the Democrats are no less unholy in their manipulative approach toward the part of Church they use for their purposes.
Rove and Mehlman, the Republicans and the Democrats USE the Church for their political agenda.
The result is that the Church has become divided. Politics have dis-unified us. “Parts of the Church” are identified with “part” of what is on Jesus’ heart. One side of the Church is mad at the other side for not caring about the values they care about. And now American society distrusts the Church just like they distrust politicians.
Our current relationship to politics has not ennobled it. It sullied us.
Jesus loves His Bride. He will not let this stand.
The “Fix” is On Us, Not Them
The spiritually wise alone can bring a change. Political leaders are not looking to change a relationship that seems just fine to them.
Many leading the Church will call for us to back far away from government. This is a massive mistake. Think Joseph, Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah, Esther, Nehemiah, Daniel, Jesus, Paul. Spoke to government. Stopped it from making huge mistakes. Addressed immorality and corruption. Solved problems by divine revelation.
The relationship between the Church and American government needs to be redefined. That’s on us. The current environment of manipulation, abuse and mistrust needs to be exchanged for a culture of honor. When we initiate the relationship we get to determine the agenda. An agenda built on honor, love and prayer.
Let me make three recommendations to move us toward a culture of honor.
- The IRS Gag Rule on churches needs to be challenges and found unconstitutional. In October 2012, over 1,000 churches participated in Pulpit Freedom Sunday. In official action as a church body they endorsed candidates publically in defiance of the law. They recorded their actions and sent evidence to the IRS asking them to pursue legal action against them. This defiance has happened every year for several years. A growing number of churches are participating. A case needs to get in the court system so it can move up to the Supreme Court. The IRS has refused to take action, because they know they do not have legal grounds that will hold.
- 2. Build relationships of love and prayer with local legislators. My state representative, Kurt Heise, informed people in his monthly newsletter where he will be in his district at certain hours. This would be a great time for people in the 20th district to meet him, thank him and let him know they are praying for him. Check your legislator’s website, sign up for the newsletter, find out where you can connect with them.
Pastors have a unique opportunity because of your leadership in the community to set an appointment and really find ways to serve and pray for him. Government leaders will return pastor’s calls.
- Invite legislators to our churches on our terms. We need to keep politicians away from our churches in the three months before the election. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know why they come knocking then. After the election and during their term, we need to ask them to come to our church, so we can honor them, thank them and pray for them. Do the things the Bible tells us to do for those in authority.
You can build a culture of honor!