The IRS Weighs In

The last four to five years have been tumultuous for Christians and their politics. As much as any time in my adult life, Christians have argued about the dynamic of holding to the Christian faith and voting one way or another. Taken to another level, we have watched the tendency of Christians of different theological persuasions to (sometimes strongly) associate their faith with one political party or another.

Coming up to the 2020 American Presidential election, some Christians vociferously argued that no self-respecting follower of Jesus could vote for Trump. It was said over and over, “Character matters.” All the while, very little self-reflection went on among progressive Christians and the parties and individuals they were willing to vote for. By the same token, research showed that Americans who self-identified as evangelical, but who attended church very rarely (or not at all), were the most likely to put all their hopes on Trump. Many of them substituted church with their politics.

So, despite all the social media mudslinging, is there an answer to the question of which political party is more in line with traditional Christian orthodoxy? A bizarre and heavy-handed letter from the IRS tells us what they think.

In the middle of June 2021, the IRS denied non-profit status to Christians Engaged, an organization that encourages people to pray, be engaged in the political process, and vote according to biblical principles. The IRS denied their request because the values they stand for align with only one political party, which in the non-profit world, is a game-ender. Part of the letter simply said,

“[B]ible teachings are typically affiliated with the [Republican] party and candidates.”

In other words, because the IRS recognized the principles of Christians Engaged as supporting the Republican Party, and opposing the Democrat Party, they denied 501c3 status.

A couple of things strike me with this ruling.

The first is, “no kidding.” All one needs to do is listen to the stated goals of national Democrat candidates, and their list of priorities do not align well with Christian orthodoxy. When individuals say they do align, they usually use general terms and fuzzy concepts like, “social justice”, “equity”, “immigration”, “kids in cages”, and so forth. Groups like Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden were shocked by Biden’s support of the pro-choice movement. They should not have been.

A look at the DNC platform will dispel any idea that the DNC aligns itself with Christian teachings on the family, human sexuality, abortion, or economics. Then, adding fuel to the fire burning the ties between the DNC and orthodox Christianity, 60 Democrat legislators signed an open letter admonishing the Catholic Church to not withhold the eucharist from pro-choice legislators, concluding the letter with the sentiment: We have just as much a claim on the church as it has on us. No church worth its salt, Catholic or otherwise, will agree with that self-important claim.

My second thought is, I am not surprised this is how a Christian group has their 501c3 status revoked. It should not be controversial to say that most of the D.C. bureaucracy is progressive, and that part of the progressive political philosophy is censure instead of public debate. So, if they decide that simply encouraging people to vote and advocate according to Christian values does harm to the DNC, then this must be a reason to deny the application.

In the end, Christians belong to only one kingdom – the kingdom of God. But we are placed here on earth in a particular nation and political situation, commanded by God to be good citizens and loving neighbors. None of that requires us to unswervingly connect ourselves to a political movement, but it does require us to be more thoughtful and discerning than maybe many of us have been.

This story shows us we may be in a time when the political winds are against orthodox Christianity, but that is never a reason to accommodate the truths we have received from the saints (Jude 1:3) in order to maintain some level of respectability from an institution that may not like us in the first place.

We are placed here on earth in a particular nation and political situation, commanded by God to be good citizens and loving neighbors.

Photo by Element5 Digital from Pexels

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