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Posts Tagged ‘politics’

Political issues

In general, I am a big fan of Christians being motivated by our faith to be involved in protecting the liberty via the political system.

I think it is vital that we understand how and why things work – even if they are not directly connected to scriptural issues – like raising or lowering taxes or gun control.

This conversation about the Johnson Amendment is an example of that, not a departure from it.  I think there are many excellent reasons for us to have an overt discussion on issues of freedom of speech from the pulpit and how that is matched with the protections offered by being a “non-profit.”

Non-profits and donations

Religious non-profits and churches in particular have a few advantages offered them over regular businesses.   The main one is that when people donate to a nonprofit (of almost any kind), the donor does not pay taxes on the money that they give away to a non-profit.

However, that also means that the person CANNOT delegate a specific person or political cause that the church should use that money for, nor can the donor receive any product or service directly for that money.

A person can donate to church and not pay taxes on that money they donated.  However, if a person pays for their kids going to youth camp, they do still have to pay taxes on that money (as income), since they are receiving a service directly for that money.

Sometimes it is a fine line, and the responsibility to manage these funds legally and morally are a big deal in churches.  A lot of energy goes to getting it right, so that those who give are able to avoid paying taxes on the money they earn that they then donate.

As most of you know, I am the Lead Pastor of a Baptist Church in the city that must be the little diamond on the rodeo cowboy on the buckle of the Bible belt.  It may seem odd that I would choose to write an article expressing my concerns, alongside many secular groups about repealing the Johnson Amendment.

As a Christian Pastor and someone who passionately holds to reasonable faith in Christ, I obviously disagree with nearly every aspect of the agenda of the secular organizations.   It isn’t my intent to strengthen those agendas on the whole.

In general, I am encouraged by that influence of Christianity in the USA, not concerned. I am a little concerned the direction that some Christian leaders are taking this issue.

The Johnson Amendment

When LBJ was a Senator, the amendment was passed on the US tax code prohibiting all non-profit (501(c)(3)) organizations from endorsing or opposing political candidates.  Specifically, it adds to the definition of such groups the phrases:  “…and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”

I am under the impression that it didn’t draw much controversy at the time of its creation, and that does not surprise me.  The value of that addition to pastors is evident to me.

I am more surprised at the attention it has gotten recently.

Last year at about this time, Trump signed an executive order calling for the Treasury to be lenient in enforcing this amendment.  It is a law and the president cannot overturn a law by himself, but like Obama did with many laws, he has ordered the executive branch not to enforce a law – or at least to be lenient – or at least not to prioritize this amendment.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on legal matters, and I am not an expert on the Johnson Amendment, but I have never been troubled by it.

I have always assumed this rule was pushed into place by pastors and leaders of non-profits, so imagine my surprise when I see other pastors fighting to have it overturned.

We wrap up with Part 2 next week.

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Good Boundaries, Healthy Relationships, and Terrorists

 

One of the greatest signs of an unhealthy relationship is when one person takes on the responsibility for the bad conduct and strong emotions of the other.

 

This is common in unhealthy relationships, by the way.  An abused wife often finds herself in a constant frenzy in an effort to fix the relationship.  If only she would have made dinner in time, he wouldn’t have beaten her; if only she had not looked at that man in the check out counter too long, her husband wouldn’t have screamed at her; if only she had met him at the door in time, he wouldn’t have needed to cheat on her.

 

The child of parents getting a divorce will take on the pain and resentments and the responsibility of the parent’s errors.  Family members with personality disorders often inspire a “walk on eggshells” feel for everyone around them.  The parents of an out-of-control teen will start trying to figure out the perfect thing to say or do to solve all the family’s problems.

 

Of course, healthy people analyze their own part in a relationship to figure out what needs to change…  Certainly in any relationship, there are aspects of it that are not perfect and within that, there are always things that one person or the other can work on.

 

However, it is an axiom that one can only be responsible for what one is responsible for!  The behaviors and emotions of others cannot be fundamentally my responsibility.  There is a phrase used to describe when someone (aside from guardianss of young children)  tries to feel responsible for what others feel or do:

 

nuts…

 

Codependent crazy-making and dysfunctionally unhealthy… it is a quick path to an identity dis-integrated into reactionary meaninglessness that accomplishes nothing across time.

 

This concept is true on the small scale – like a romantic relationship, parent of adult children, etc.

 

I believe it is also true at the large scale.

 

If America does something wrong – it is wrong.

 

It doesn’t suddenly become wrong when we are attacked… and being attacked doesn’t make us somehow wrong.  Even others believing we are wrong also doesn’t make us wrong, necessarily.

 

As a therapist, I was disconcerted to watch us scramble to try to figure out what we did wrong that drew the attack on our embassy in Libya.

 

We certainly might have done wrong things – we do all the time – but it is unhealthy at every level to accept any blame for the abusive behavior of others.

 

I don’t want to see us take on the role of the abused wife in the world in relationship to terrorism.

 

Of course, like any healthy entity, we must constantly be evaluating ourselves and improving who we are.  However, we also must work hard to avoid taking responsibility for the wrong of others.

 

I want my leaders to understand this concept.

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