Denominational Commune Canons
The Church meets the following enumerated IRS requirements:
"1. The organization is described in §501(c)(3) of the Code."
"2. The members of the organization vow to live under a strict set of rules requiring moral and spiritual self-sacrifice and dedication to the goals of the organization at the expense of their material well-being."
Actually, the IRS cannot require this verbatim. A vow and an oath are synonymous. Jesus said that we are not to take oaths. In addition, IRS regulations must apply to all religions. Certainly there are Buddhists who engage in what is mundanely considered self-sacrifice; however, they are not required to do so by their religion, and in fact, their founder detached himself from such notions. In addition, the sake of others is both our cause and is in our personal interest. The real self is found in other. Jesus was one with his disciples. He sacrificed for that one. He was and is that selfsame one. These things are not mutually exclusive. Also, "material well-being" is a mundanely subjective notion. It is also materialistic spirit to which we do not subscribe.
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. — Jesus (Matthew 5:33-37).
Our members will endeavor to put themselves last, thereby being first, meaning they will serve in righteousness, pleasing God. They will not live for material gain for self. They will be satisfied with what is truly enough. What is truly enough creates the true state of well-being. Excess is death of the soul. Excess is caving into warring lusts within and without.
Our members, by living by the new commandment, will take up their crosses and follow Jesus. This is the spirit of self-sacrifice in the divine sense. This is the atoning way. This pleases God. This is worthy in God's eyes. This is the kind and degree of love that will see souls in the new heaven and new earth. This is putting the whole before self, which if everyone did in this spirit, each would be best off.
Our members will have read these things and heard these things and will have accepted them. They will understand.
"3. The members of the organization, after successful completion of the organization's training program and probationary period, make a long-term commitment to the organization (normally more than two years)."
The commitment to God and Christ and, therefore, the Real Liberal Christian Church is for life eternal, but none may be coerced into remaining members.
The education and training of our members will continue indefinitely. We will not put people through probationary periods, per se. The membership will decide whom to allow in the body and whom to follow, whom to allow to serve. This will apply all the time. Those who receive the spirit and do not backslide will be known to the body. Those who backslide will be rebuked (constructively criticized in the spirit of real love) to regain them if possible.
People who do not love the word will not find this appealing and will not attempt it or attempting it will not last. The body does not need to test its members, as in trying them. To do so is to lead them into temptation to fall into doubt, hypocrisy, and despair. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. The Church does not add to it but seeks to displace it.
This is not a repudiation of all that is called testing. We are all called to rise to the occasion. Life is a trial. We must understand these things within their given contexts.
"4. The organization is, directly or indirectly, under the control and supervision of a church or convention or association of churches, or is significantly funded by a church or convention or association of churches."
This point does not pertain to the denomination. The chartered churches and mission and communes, etc., under the denomination, certainly will meet this criterion.
"5. The members of the organization normally live together as part of a community and are held to a significantly stricter level of moral and religious discipline than that required of lay church members."
This is contrary to the teaching of Jesus. Regardless of whether or not they live in a commune, the members of our Church will endeavor to live by, one, the highest moral standard, which is to live by the new commandment that automatically works to dispel doubt in God and Jesus and to dispel hypocrisy, and two, the highest religious discipline, which truly is the same thing as number one.
We believe in the priesthood of all believers. We do not subscribe to the hierarchical structure of the church of Rome. We do not subscribe to their concept of apostolic succession. We do not care for the term laity. We believe that all people are called to the new commandment.
This criterion of the IRS was set up by those who used the orders of the church of Rome as their basis or litmus test. We are under no obligation to follow it. In the mundane, it is unconstitutional in that by favoring the religious devices of one denomination over another, the government is establishing one denomination above another and directly benefiting one over another. The spirit of the mundane, worldly law is rather to be silent on choices of religious devices. Favoring the concept of a lower standard for laity is a revenue-enhancement device of the publicans. It is also a capitalist device to withhold from the general population the spirit of God, which is giving and sharing freely, holding all things in common, and only serving one another.
"6. The members of the organization work or serve full-time on behalf of the religious, educational, or charitable goals of the organization."
"7. The members of the organization participate regularly in activities such as public or private prayer, religious study, teaching, care of the aging, missionary work, or church reform or renewal."
The tax-free status of section 501 organizations enables them to use their tax-free profits to expand operations, while for-profit corporations can expand only with the profits remaining after taxes. As Congress considered this unfair competition, the above mentioned laws were enacted comprising IRC 511 through 515 defining "unrelated business taxable income." The intention of these codes is not to affect the tax-exempt status of any organization, as it is the destination, not the source of income, which is considered the ultimate test for the right to exempt status. Though most tax-exempt organizations are subject to the unrelated business taxable income codes, IRC 512 (b) (15) provides an exclusion from unrelated business taxable income carried on by a religious order or by an educational institution maintained by such an order.
Many religious or spiritual communities, of both Eastern and Western traditions are organized under section 501 (c) (3). Examples are: Ananda Ashram, New York, Providence Zen Center, Rhode Island, and many Catholic monasteries. It is also experienced that some organizations which arise as educational etc., later decide to develop a community as support for or illustration of their purposes. The High Wind Association in Minnesota, organized for appropriate technology development, and Circle Pines Center in Michigan, organized as a folk-school and conference center, are two such examples.
The case of Shiloh Community in Oregon, points out the importance of the unrelated business taxable income provision of the (c) (3) statute. The tax court ruled that Shiloh's rehabilitation program of finding jobs for former drug users, street people, and others and contributing their income to their 501 (c) (3) corporation was a practice unrelated to Shiloh's exempt purpose. The tax court claimed that Shiloh owed additional corporate taxes plus interest for every year beginning in 1977. Most of Shiloh's assets were sold to pay the IRS bill. If Shiloh had formed a separate for-profit corporation to operate its businesses, allowable deductions would have created minimal tax liabilities.
There are a number of issues involving the application of the 501 (c) (3) tax status to intentional community. The Catholic monastic orders have the most experience with this, much of which is available in the periodical called, Catholic Law Review. Albert Bates of The Farm reports that a number of Catholic orders have evolved into joining the social security system by having members work as employees, paying social security taxes for the minimum amount of time necessary to qualify for retirement benefits, then drop the employee status for membership in the tax-exempt organization. As noted in the 501 (d) section, legal precedents exist establishing that organizations which do not pay wages or salaries for labor need not pay social security taxes.
A. Allen Butcher. Legal Incorporation for Intentional Community. Community, Inc. 1992. Page 8. . (accessed: Saturday, November 11, 2006).
We are a communist (communitarian, collectivist, egalitarian), democratic (participatory and non-coercive) Church. We are not Marxists.
And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (Acts 2:42-45).
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. (Acts 4:34-35).
Initial Commune Rules
Confess to God. Repent. Return to God.
Atone. Make amends. Be at one with God, who is the spirit of oneness.
Keep the new commandment to the best of your ability in all its implications.
Keep the Golden Rule.
Love God with your all.
Love everyone as yourself. Be a Good Samaritan.
Follow the Sermon on the Mount and the other teachings of Jesus Christ.
Keep the ten commandments.
1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
2. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
3. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
4. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
5. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
6. Thou shalt not kill.
7. Thou shalt not commit adultery.
8. Thou shalt not steal.
9. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. (Exodus 20:3-17).
Be obedient to God's will. All the membership doing this will insure that God's will is reflected in the Church, making it the real Church to which we may all be obedient (to one another, as part of God's whole).
Deny yourself. Be unselfish.
Fast in secret. Learn to fast correctly. Do not confuse fasting with an eating disorder.
When not fasting, do not overeat. Keep your appetite in check.
Do not be given to intoxication (too much wine or spirits).
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. — Jesus (Luke 21:34).
Do not smoke.
If you are working in a sedentary position, be sure to exercise for at least thirty minutes a day. This is not an inducement to selfishness. It is a loving recommendation and an unselfish act on your part if you will see that you will be able to serve others better by being more physically fit. Remember, Jesus walked nearly everywhere he went. He walked the deserts and mountains. His disciples worked as fishermen and at other physically active tasks. If you work in an active position, determine if any other parts of your body can use balancing exercise.
Pray in secret.
Further about prayer, know though that we are not merely some contemplative denomination. Prayer, that is meditation, is essential; however, we are not about isolation and asceticism to the exclusion of doing works in the world. Contemplation is for the purpose of correcting those things which are holding back the kingdom of God from coming into the world from within our hearts. It is about open doors that ought not to be closed and closing doors that ought not to be open. It is about moving the iniquitous, through the Holy Spirit of truth, to turn to the right path.
Bear witness to God but not for show or accolades from fellow humans.
Do not be a hedonist.
Give and share without fanfare.
Just as the first Apostles did, give all your wealth and worldly possession over to the Church for the sake of all your spiritual brothers and sisters and others in need in.
Neither the Church nor its communes or members is to charge usury (interest). Neither are they to ask for a loan back, whether it be money or something else.
All members are to return loans.
Property of the Church (which is all God's property) assigned to individuals to use is to be respected by those who may ask to borrow something. It should be returned with due consideration of the one from who it was borrowed. Borrowed here does not imply individual sole ownership of something. It is simply concerned with things assigned for use. Examples might be pen and paper.
Turn in all money to the common treasury.
Turn all other things over to the Church in the manner proscribed in Church Policies and Procedures.
Do not be materialistic.
Be a pacifist. Do not cave into wrath.
Be sexually pure.
Do not be tempted to any sexual depravity including homosexuality, bisexuality, sodomy, adultery, fornication, incest, polygamy, abuse, force, pornography, and the like.
Do not attempt to be a deliberate temptation to others.
Do not adorn yourself or dress provocatively.
Do not engage in premarital or extramarital sex.
Do not spread or partake of pornography or erotic or suggestive materials.
Do not engage in homosexual or pedophilic thoughts or activities.
Practice natural family planning to the extent you are able to receive it.
Overpopulation is caused by unbridled lust. Fast from sex just as you fast from food or drink or anything else.
Sex is drummed up in so-called entertainment, the media, and through advertising to stimulate consumption across the board.
Appreciate that other religions, philosophies, and ideologies have failed to instruct that the lack of consideration of others has caused over-population and over-consumption and led to global warming, pollution, deforestation, and the other environmental problems brought on by selfishness. Selfishness ruins the home.
Study the word of God.
Do not join the worldly way.
Do not be a nationalist in the mundane sense. Your nation is your spiritual family.
Do not take any oath, make a vow, or swear to, or on, anything.
Consider yourself permanently committed to the narrow way.
And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God. — Jesus (Luke 9:62).
Return good for evil.
Bless them who curse you.
Have no pride.
Do not grumble, fuss, or frivolously complain about the Church or commune rules. Be constructive. Be open, honest, and direct within the context of Jesus's teachings. The object is never to preclude anyone from living down repented sin. Cover your repentant brothers and sisters from the devouring spirit.
Never engage in malicious gossip.
Analyzing the negatives in life should be for the sole purpose of avoiding repeated error.
Be thoughtful and considerate, not self-centered. Do not disturb the peace of the Lord.
Yet, make joyful sounds unto the Lord.
Be industrious in the unselfish sense.
Bring forth the fruits of the kingdom of God within you.
The kingdom of God cometh not with observation. — Jesus (Luke 17:20).
It comes from works, deeds, done in faith.
...for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. — Jesus (Luke 17:21).
Let us be able to say the following:
...Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds. — Jesus (Luke 19:16).
Let us convert from love of mammon into communes of the Lord. Let us do it for righteousness, which is the only way it will happen.
Practice good hygiene.
We do not mandate any certain rules concerning hair, beards, or moustaches except that grooming be healthful and water usage and other factors be considered. Excessive hair can clog drains and present a safety hazard around certain equipment. It can take longer to wash and require more cleaning agents. Shaving can require more water also. Use good judgment in these matters. Consider the local resources.
Practice good organization.
Do God's will and not your own alone.
Know that all things are possible with God. God's spirit sees everything. God is over all matter, energy, and natural forces.
Give all credit to God for righteousness.
Do in faith to increase faith.
In all things, go above and beyond the old standards of duty.
Do not judge or condemn. The truth is sufficient.
Forgive and be full of mercy, not bitter.
We are far from focused on liturgical matters (prescribed forms for ceremonies and rituals); nevertheless, administer and partake of Holy Communion. It is necessary to remember Jesus in this way to keep the connection alive with the meaning of his new commandment.
Say the Lord's Prayer together but never for show.
Baptize repentant believers. It is a beginning for the earnest. Jesus was baptized more than once. He was baptized first in water by John the Baptist and he was also baptized by the crucifixion and death he endured that glorified God.
Note: The operations of the spirit of falsehood result in greed, neglect of righteous deeds, wickedness, lying, pride and haughtiness, cruel deceit and fraud, massive hypocrisy, a want of self-control and abundant foolishness, a zeal for arrogance, abominable deeds fashioned by whorish desire, lechery in its filthy manifestation, a reviling tongue, blind eyes, deaf ears, stiff neck, and hard heart — to the end of walking in all the ways of darkness and evil cunning. — Essenes' Community Rule, 1QS, meaning found in cave 1 of Qumran, serek, meaning "order," column 4, lines 9-11 of the Dead Sea Scrolls.
Note: Ceremonies of atonement cannot restore his innocence, neither cultic waters his purity. He cannot be sanctified by baptism in oceans and rivers, nor purified by mere ritual bathing. Unclean, unclean shell he be all the days that he rejects the laws of God. ibid. — 3:4-6.]
Let the spiritual dead bury their own.
Be a good steward. Set a good example. Practice environmentalism.
Be a good shepherd.
Warn others. Call them back to the fold.
Lead people out of temptation.
Rebuke your spiritual brothers and sisters only when necessary. Do it in the spirit of love, without coercion or hypocrisy.
Promote social and economic justice. Work to displace the consumerist, market economy, with the giving and sharing economy.
Promote feminism, which is the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.
The early Church was feminist. It was only as a result of sexist, scribal alterations that the Western text subtly diminished the role of women in the early Church. We do not want to over state this point. Either Paul was fickle, a sexist, or his letters were altered, or someone else wrote them and attributed them to him. We cover this in some detail in There Is No Such Thing as a Conservative-Republican Christian: Jesus is a small-c communist.
Consider Philippians 4:2-3
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord. And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
This authentic letter by Paul pleads with the influential leaders (women in this case) of the Church. There are more examples. Phoebe in Romans 16:1-2
I commend unto you Phebe our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also.
In addition to feminism, also promote nondiscrimination in membership on account of race, color, ethnicity, disability (other than heathenism), or social or economic status.
Be a humanitarian.
Help others to help yet others.
Be a peacemaker.
Have no weapons.
Study no war making.
Conflate souls by the Holy Spirit of peace, love, and truth.
Resolve conflicts. Do not bring suit against anyone. Settle, go the extra mile. Return good for evil. Love your enemies. Turn the other cheek regarding all forms of assault. Forgive. Show mercy and real justice.
Teach the illiterate to read.
Help others to rehabilitate.
Work with people to recover.
Help the unemployed find and keep unselfish work.
Work to provide clean water, sanitation, food (growing and drives), clothes (making and drives), housing (restoring and new construction), sustainable energy, and the like.
Have members visit, encourage, and help the sick, the lonely, widows and widowers, orphans, the homeless, the oppressed, refugees, slaves, the unemployed, the disabled, and the imprisoned, and all others in needs, wherever you are.
Heal the sick without charging them any fees.
Nurture and protect the children. Keep them from all abuse.
Provide wholesome recreation.
Use art to glorify God.
Condone only unselfish uses of science and technology; however, qualify that with the understanding that God has all power over science and technology.
Keep those things that may tempt you to lust out of your life. Do not do things in your heart that are iniquitous.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. — Jesus (Matthew 5:27-28).
This includes all iniquitous fantasies as well including greedy and violent.
While total segregation on account of gender is a contrivance and even contributes to problems, in matters of sleeping and bathing arrangements, use propriety. Create an environment that is properly balanced so that the proper boundary respecting the prohibition on adultery, fornication, and abuse is established and well understood and respected without being so severe as to cause people to unnecessarily dwell on such negatives. It is better that the mind be conditioned to love others so unselfishly that they would never even contemplate sinning against them. Concentrate on developing that single vision so that as Jesus, you will not fall into the temptation of evil of the heathens and Laodiceans.
Deliberately single-sex communes are not compatible with the Church.
Aim for modest, well-constructed, ecologically sound, detached dwellings. Of course, some properties will come with existing construction. We will carefully weigh any replacement of otherwise perfectly serviceable buildings. Dorm- or attached-apartment living or sharing of large houses is not inconsistent with our aims so long as it is not done to excess or considered our model approach. Isaiah's caution is definitely correct.
Woe unto them that join house to house, that lay field to field, till there be no place, that they may be placed alone in the midst of the earth! — Isaiah 5:8.
It is environmentally correct and concerns both the macrocosmic and microcosmic levels. We need wilderness, and we need private space to separate ourselves to God.
Let there be a common table. Let the portions be modest but proper for the work. Let the food be natural, organic, varied, and vegetarian for those who will. Let the food be grown on commune premises by the members. Where it is insufficient, let the commune obtain food in bulk for economy sake. Let service in the kitchen and at the table be shared and rotated. Let mealtimes be established, be routine, and allow for different work. No one shall be denied food or drink for any disciplinary reasons or tardiness, although avoidable tardiness is selfish.
People who are fasting should inform the chief cook or designee well enough in advance. Where people take common meals, it will not be entirely secret who is completely fasting. Reducing portion sizes is also a form of fasting.
The work and study schedule will determine sleeping hours.
Let the schedule allow for no forced sleep deprivation.
Let it set aside time for prayer, reflection, and independent reading. Let there be quiet hours for these things.
Let the schedule allow for fellowship, and keeping good hygiene and an ordered environment.
Rebuke and excommunication will follow the progressive steps laid out by Jesus.
When a sibling in spirit has repented but backslides and repents and backslides repeatedly, remember that Jesus said forgive "seventy times seven" times, which is four hundred ninety times, no less. Of course, "repents" here means earnestly repents (apologizes and atones from the heart).