So, President Trump signed an executive order this week that supposedly restores some religious liberties and according to Trump gives “our churches their voices back.” I submit that the church has never lost their voice!
I’m no attorney or student of the law, but my understanding is that the Johnson Amendment allowed for the revocation of a church’s tax-exempt status for engaging too actively in political activities. First of all, churches have engaged in such activities for years and rarely with consequences. Politicians are frequently acknowledged in the church and even given the platform to “greet” the congregation, which is in essence an endorsement. And no consequences!
I’m not commenting on whether that is right or not, but I will state uninhibited that if the threat of losing money (in the form of tax exemptions) is enough to silence you from standing up for what you truly believe in, then your faith is as fragile as the page of the Bible you pull your sermon text from week after week.
I don’t believe we can have it both ways. Either you’re going to stand for God no matter the cost or you’re going to cower to the whims of man (or government). God is your source, NOT your tax exemption!
That being said, from a purely “constitutional” standpoint, I do believe that church and state should remain separate. Those are the laws of our country. If you are going to benefit financially from the tax laws of this country, then you should abide by the amendments that dictate “appropriate or acceptable” behaviors. I do see some potential dangers when politics are allowed to inseminate the pulpit.
This political season more than previous, I’ve seen churches rate which sins are more tolerable and essentially ostracize and demoralize members because they had a different spiritual conviction from the pastor. There are valid Christian principals supported by both sides of the political ticket. Just because you’re more strongly committed to one that’s different from the ones I’m committed to does not give you a higher moral stance or denigrate the validity of my conviction. The Bible teaches us to each be pursued by our own convictions. Not everyone will March for social injustice. Not everyone is compelled to protest in front of abortion clinics. Not everyone will wash the stinky feet of a homeless person who hasn’t bathed in 3 weeks. That’s precisely why we are one body with different members.
President Trump asserted that the ACA (and by extension, the Johnson Amendment) allowed churches to be “bullied.” I’ve witnessed first hand, this season, the bullying of parishioners and church members by pastors adamant about getting their candidate in office. There MUST be some protection against this atrocity, especially when the bullies continue to get federal tax relief.
I am fully aware that this Trump initiative is more far reaching than the Johnson Amendment, and even support some of the other initiatives. I am just leary that the the holy pulpit of our churches might soon become the bully pulpit of political manipulation. If you are that convicted of your belief in and support of a particular political candidate, then put your faith where your wallet is and have faith enough to know that God will provide when your government (or the IRS) won’t. I’m just saying!
In addition to his establishing his private surgical practice on the campus of Southern Hills Medical Center, he is also an adjunct assistant professor at Meharry Medical College and founded the Voice Care Center of Nashville, where he specializes in treating and preventing voice problems in Christian and Gospel music artists.
As an independent gospel recording artist himself, Dr. Williams has a keen insight to not only the medical and surgical implications of voice disturbances, but also the many spiritual impacts.
During his medical school training, Williams wrestled with the possible demands that his future medical career (neurosurgery or cardiac surgery at that time) would preclude his ability to effectively develop the ministry he’d been called into. While completing his Ph.D. studies, a colleague suggested Otolaryngology.