It is perfectly clear that the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States says that “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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment is authoritative on five points, one of which is that the federal government may not establish a state church or prohibit people from exercising their God-given right to worship freely.
This has long been a cornerstone of our nation. It has given religious people the assurance that they would not have anyone telling them how to worship and instructing preachers which doctrines they can espouse. Christianity has grown exponentially under this arrangement. If one wants to get the ire of Christians stirred up, just try telling them what they can and cannot do in the practice of their faith.
In recent years we have watched as slowly but surely; the government has placed restrictions on the church. If a preacher endorses a candidate (which before 1954 they could do) then the current rule is that they will lose their tax-exempt status. The one place that should be free to speak God’s unadulterated truth is the one place in America that is limited in what it can say, and that place is the pulpits of America. That is government intervention. And in this PC world, just try to find a preacher with any visibility at all who will give a rousing Biblically based sermon on homosexuality, abortion, transgenderism, biblically based marriage and the family, or any other subject which is perceived to be controversial. Pastors are too concerned about the repercussions.
The churches want to be free from anyone, especially the government telling them what to do and say because they see themselves as the spokesmen of God who preach the Bible and their allegiance is supposed to be with what God says and nothing else.
But a strange thing is happening that I thought I would never see. Some churches, usually the larger and more liberal ones, are accepting monies from the hand of the government by accepting the PPP stimulus monies. Why in the world would they do that? We are supposed to rely upon God for our resources and not some government hand-out. But Christianity is becoming so secularized that the leaders of those churches see nothing wrong with getting some “free” monies.
Technically the monies are considered a “loan.” But if an institution or business meets certain standards related to payroll, staffing, or the many other caveats the monies will not have to be paid back. In other words, the “loan” becomes a gift.
Another thing about the process of obtaining the monies is that a business or anyone seeking the funds, must apply for it. “Why, if they offer it, then why not take it.” Big mistake!! By taking those monies these churches have foolishly allowed a “cord” to be placed between the government and them. Sooner or later the government will pull that cord and expect the church to be obedient because it accepted government monies.
I think that any church or religious organization that applied for the funds should be ashamed of themselves. How can a pastor who did such stand in the pulpit and tell his people to trust God for everything when he and his church have demonstrated that they really don’t do that themselves?
The government never makes money except to print billions of dollar bills. Their value falls as they print. How does the government get money? It gets it from the people and when they “give” people, companies, or churches monies it was taken from the people and then “loaned” back to them. It was not generated by any process by which value is usually produced. Instead, it is extracted by taxes and fees.
It is appalling to me how rationalizing some pastors and religious leaders can be. It is unbelievable that they think it is acceptable to receive these funds that, they must apply for and then be approved to receive.
When they accept the money, they must realize that there are strings attached and one day the government will reel them in just like catching a fish. They will say: “You have received taxpayer monies through the PPP stimulus program, and we are telling you that since you did that, you can no longer preach on any subject that has been politicized. You cannot preach on abortion, same sex marriage or any subject that deals with a politically sensitive issue.” The government has been moving in this direction for years and has made sure that every potential social issue has been politicized, so they can silence churches on the subject.
In taking government monies, the church gives up its spiritual authority. The church becomes a pawn of the state and the government will not wait long to play that pawn. Throughout scripture we are taught that God is our sufficiency, not man. If He gives the church or religious institution something to do, He will provide them the means by which to do it.
This last year during the pandemic, I have talked with many pastors who have bemoaned the lower church attendance because of the COVID-19 issue. But, every one of them has verbalized this caveat: “While our attendance is down, the money has been consistent. In fact, we are right where we ought to be on our budget. It hasn’t hurt us at all or very little. People have continued to give on-line or by mail. Financially, we are strong.” Why then are some of the well-known churches in our area getting the stimulus monies? It proves that they put more trust in the government than they do in God. Then they turn right around and pray that the Lord will bless them as they preach the Gospel. Won’t happen. They have put God in the place of blessing those who have rejected Him for some other avenue, and He will not do that.
Why should the Body of Christ need the government’s money? Why should they stoop so low? They give up the resources of Heaven in exchange for what man and his government can give them. Bad deal!! They are accepting something
they think is good and giving up the blessings of Heaven in the process.
This kind of thinking is exactly why the Church, is losing its influence in the pagan world in which we live. There was a day in which the Church was the bellwether on society and its direction. That is no more.
The way this nation is living, it is proving that what God says on an issue no longer matters. The church and religious institutions are not helping the situation when they ally themselves with the world as opposed to having faith in God to provide their needs. God help us! We need a Heaven-sent revival, and soon.
Reverend William (Bill) Harrell has been in ministry 48 years. He served as the pastor of Abilene Baptist Church in Martinez, GA for over 30 of those years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out his blog at www.williamfharrell.com