UPDATE: Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Okay, I've studied and studied the Internal Revenue Code. The following is where we stand in a nutshell:
The Real Liberal Christian Church is a United States Internal Revenue Code §501(c)(3) Nonprofit, Public Charity, Religious Organization (ministry), as defined by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the principal purpose of which ministry is the advancement of religion, namely Christianity.
I'm applying as such. We will be recognized. I've updated the website and documents to reflect this.
UPDATE: Monday, August 04, 2008
Well, it took 12 days and numerous submissions.
We have now met all the rigorous compliance requests of PayPal. They did interact human-to-human via email concerning some questions I had, which was helpful.
Now I will re-approach GuideStar with the same information/documentation to see if the RLCC can satisfy their requirements.
UPDATE: Monday, July 21, 2008
PayPal contacted me. We've had a PayPal account for fifteen months. PayPal is now asking for proof of governmental approval of this Church. At this point, I won't characterize the email from them here or the information on their secure server. I'm simply reporting the existence of this issue of having to obtain the government's (secular state's) blessing even though the IRS makes clear that technically it isn't required.
As with GuideStar, I'm trying to work something out now with PayPal.
UPDATE: Saturday, July 12, 2008
GuideStar contacted me. That was better than not. I'm trying to work something out with them now. When there is more to report, I'll do another update here and/or even a new post.
The thing right now is that Guidestar.org requires proof of IRS FORM 1023 approval before donations may be handled through Facebook. The Church has to be a "recognized" beneficiary. Facebook requires Guidestar's blessing before allowing donations to flow.
I don't have a printer though, so I can't printout the FROM 1023 I downloaded from the IRS. I haven't been able to afford one. I had to leave behind the all-in-one printer I had when I left Arizona in 2004. To print things, I've had to go to the public library here. However, it's been so long since I've been there and logged in that my library card has expired. Well, according to Guidestar today, I have 30 days to get an approved status printout to them from the IRS. Wow.
I say wow, because a church doesn't need IRS approval to collect tax-deductible donations. It doesn't matter how small the church is so long as it has a denominational affiliation. Frankly, that's not exactly freedom of religion and equal application of the law. Small, so-called non-denominational congregations have as much right to 501(c)(3) status as the largest denominations. This is a wrongful holdover.
For those who think religions shouldn't be tax-exempt, religion wouldn't be free if only the rich could afford it. If religion isn't free, where will the anti-religionists draw the line on what can or cannot be believed? It's tyrannical.
The RLCC is opposed to coercion. The Church believes in the non-coerced conviction of the conscience and the right of the people not to follow bad shepherds and live under bad stewards.
Taxing religion is antichrist. This fee that the IRS wants is a tax on religion. It penalizes the poor who believe. It reaches into their pockets and takes a huge percentage relative to what the rich pay.
That's not all. Here's the worst:
Form 1023 (Rev. 6-2006) Name: EIN: – Page 12
Part XI User Fee Information
1 Have your annual gross receipts averaged or are they expected to average not more than $10,000?
You must include a user fee payment with this application. It will not be processed without your paid user fee. If your average annual gross receipts have exceeded or will exceed $10,000 annually over a 4-year period, you must submit payment of $750. If your gross receipts have not exceeded or will not exceed $10,000 annually over a 4-year period, the required user fee payment is $300. See instructions for Part XI, for a definition of gross receipts over a 4-year period. Your check or money order must be made payable to the United States Treasury. User fees are subject to change. Check our website at www.irs.gov and type "User Fee" in the keyword box, or call Customer Account Services at 1-877-829-5500 for current information.
Look at that. In order for the Christian Commons Project to accept donations through the Christian Commons Project "cause" on Facebook, I have to shell out a minimum of $300 to the Federal government.
Not only that but who can know whether or not "average annual gross receipts have exceeded or will exceed $10,000 annually over a 4-year period"? [Emphasis added]
Well, I can't do it right now. I don't have it. It isn't the highest priority anyway. $300 would pay for a faster server for this slow-loading (virtual, shared server) site.
So, the "cause" will just have to sit there on Facebook until somehow I raise $300. The registration I did with Guidestar will be automatically deleted at the end of 30 days, since I won't have the Federal governments blessing for the cause to be blessed by Guidestar to be blessed by Facebook.
I can always create a new "professional" user though on Guidestar.
Why does the Federal government have this backdoor tax ("user fee"; who's a user?) on non-profit churches especially when those churches don't even need such approval to accept legitimate tax-deductible donations? It's a racket on a certain level isn't it.
To be further frank, the IRS questionnaire asks questions designed to protect the existing "established" religious organizations. It's as if the government has been lobbied by the mainstream denominations who advocated for restrictive religious regulation to prevent competition in the marketplace of spiritual ideas.
Form 1023 (Rev. 6-2006) Name: EIN: – Page 13
Schedule A. Churches
Do you have a written creed, statement of faith, or summary of beliefs? If "Yes," attach copies of relevant documents.
Do you have a form of worship? If "Yes," describe your form of worship.
Do you have a formal code of doctrine and discipline? If "Yes," describe your code of doctrine and discipline.
Do you have a distinct religious history? If "Yes," describe your religious history.
Do you have a literature of your own? If "Yes," describe your literature.
Describe the organization's religious hierarchy or ecclesiastical government.
Do you have regularly scheduled religious services? If "Yes," describe the nature of the services and provide representative copies of relevant literature such as church bulletins.
What is the average attendance at your regularly scheduled religious services?
Do you have an established place of worship? If "Yes," refer to the instructions for the information required.
Do you own the property where you have an established place of worship?
Do you have an established congregation or other regular membership group? If "No," refer to the instructions.
How many members do you have?
Do you have a process by which an individual becomes a member? If "Yes," describe the process and complete lines 8b–8d, below.
If you have members, do your members have voting rights, rights to participate in religious functions, or other rights? If "Yes," describe the rights your members have.
May your members be associated with another denomination or church?
Are all of your members part of the same family?
Do you conduct baptisms, weddings, funerals, etc.?
Do you have a school for the religious instruction of the young?
Do you have a minister or religious leader? If "Yes," describe this person's role and explain whether the minister or religious leader was ordained, commissioned, or licensed after a prescribed course of study.
Do you have schools for the preparation of your ordained ministers or religious leaders?
Is your minister or religious leader also one of your officers, directors, or trustees?
Do you ordain, commission, or license ministers or religious leaders? If "Yes," describe the requirements for ordination, commission, or licensure.
Are you part of a group of churches with similar beliefs and structures? If "Yes," explain. Include the name of the group of churches.
Do you issue church charters? If "Yes," describe the requirements for issuing a charter.
Did you pay a fee for a church charter? If "Yes," attach a copy of the charter.
Do you have other information you believe should be considered regarding your status as a church? If "Yes," explain.
"... status as a church"? How much of this could Jesus pass? Think about it. Why is the IRS in the business of formally declaring what is or is not an acceptable religion? The U.S. Constitution says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Why are some religions prohibited from accepting tax-deductible donations while others are not except that Congress has made a law prohibiting free exercise by certain religions? Free exercise means for one thing that you don't have to pay the government to have equal treatment under the law with other religions.
The fee above, which only some religions can afford, especially when they are just starting up, constitutes a gross infringement on those of certain religious beliefs over others.
This has nothing to do with things that are otherwise illegal under the mundane law. We aren't talking about the difference between religions where one does live child sacrifices while another does not. The RLCC certainly isn't breaking any laws or advocating the breaking of any laws. We are advocating the changing of hearts and for souls to come to know, understand, and practice the highest law, which is never against the spirit of the mundane law but is rather its fulfillment, just as Jesus said.
The following should appear at the end of every post:
According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":
Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.
Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.
Political Campaign Intervention
Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.
Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.
Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:
- Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
- Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
- Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
- Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
- Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office
Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:
- The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
- Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
- We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
- When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
- It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
- We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
- We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
- When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
- We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
- It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.
And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)