The Thin Grey Line

Here is an intriguing article I found on the Washington Post’s Faith section of their website.

The part that interests me is the partisan politics of non-profits and how that can cause them to loose their tax-exempt status.  Of course this article is written with a very liberal bias (there is no comment from organizers or participants of the Values Voter Summit), but it has some valid points.

Looking at the IRS guidelines you see that the organizations that supported the Value Voters Summit have limited freedom in the political sphere.  They are not allowed to campaign in support of any individual candidate.

Churches actually fall under this same category of non-profits, which takes this issue to whole new level.  Should a pastor be able to tell his congregation who to vote for and still be able to keep his church’s tax exempt status?  We see it all the time, at churches across the country.

This is such a grey area.  Where is the line between where someone’s beliefs stop being religious and start being political?  My beliefs shape how I see issues, which affects my position on said issues.  So my political views are built on the foundation of my faith, which I think is how it should be, and I believe most people would agree with that.  But I don’t know if I can make statements about my position on political issues and really call it religion.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

James 1:27 (ESV)

James also talks in that passage of being slow to speak, and doers of the word, not only hearers of it.  All of these he considered to be true religion, religion of God.

Maybe the line between belief and politics is muddled, but maybe politics are unimportant if you are only acting out of your belief.  Telling people to vote for a certain candidate because he supports a certain policy can be a strong action, but so can doing something about the policy you support.

That is pretty broad, let me give an example.

Most conservatives are against the current healthcare reform.  The Christian Coalition has been very vocally against it as well.   Whether or not Christians are for or against healthcare reform does not change the fact that there are sick people who can not pay to get better.  If we think government staying out of healthcare is better, then let’s get out and help the sick so the government won’t need to.  Wouldn’t that be doing something instead of only hearing it?  If we support healthcare reform because we think health for all citizens is important, let’s prove it by helping the sick now.

Every issue has an underlying problem, and instead of focusing on the problem, we focus on how the solution best serves us or the people we support.  If our belief gives us a certain perspective on the problem, we need to live that perspective out, not only support those who may be able to legislate the problem away in agreement with our perspective.

If the church is only supporting political candidates or speaking out about political issues, maybe we should loose our tax-exempt status and become another wing of our partisan political structure.


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