Christians and 501(c)(3)’s From a Spiritual and Legal Perspective

Getting in Bed With the Government

Why Christians Should Avoid Seeking Charitable 501(c) Status

Question

What is your opinion about Christian’s forming 501c’s? You don’t seem to keen on it.

Response

I don’t advise Christians to form 501(c)’s from a spiritual perspective because when they do, they subject themselves to the federal laws. The government can then come in and tell them what they can and cannot do. The beauty of our Constitution is that it allows separation of church and state. When you are acting as a private ministry or church, you are protected. You can discriminate based upon religion if you want. You can say what you want as a religious entity- as long as it is not unprotected speech. You can lobby in politics if you like and a host of other things. When you become a 501(c), however, your legal rights are restricted. You are not free to act as someone with a private organization may act under Constitutional and case law protection. 

I know most form 501’s because they are looking for subsidies from the government, federal grants, or their donors want a tax break. The better course of action, however, is to trust the Holy Spirit to fund your organization and send you donors. When you do that, you don’t subject yourself to governmental control.

That being said, I would suggest a simple DBA (Doing Business As), an association, an informal (contract based only) partnership, or any other formation that does not require you file documents with the Secretary of State. Even the DBA, however, can be dicey. It’s usually okay, but remember that it, too, is a governmental document, and you will have to follow whatever restrictions your state puts on holding one. 

I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me for more information. 

Nicole

If you are a Christian ministry who desires to form a non-profit entity, please keep the above in mind before taking that step. Moreover, not mentioned above is that if you desire financial autonomy, you will not have that with a 501(c). Consult a Christian attorney who is knowledgeable of civil rights, the tax code, and business law for assistance.

You may connect with Nicole on Twitter at NowWithNicole

Leave a Reply