During the American colonial period, a number of faithful clergymen often spoke out about the important issues of their day. The British military had a name for these men, calling them the Black Robed Regiment, a reference to the robes they wore while performing their ministerial duties. These were preachers of biblical truth, faithful to the Word of God, but also outspoken against oppression and tyranny. They were strong advocates for civil and religious liberty and representative government.
Today, our nation needs another Black Robed Regiment. We need to hear the voices of our pastors. We need the members of the clergy to take a public stand for truth, for righteousness, and for conservative principles. We do hear the Scriptures expounded, we do hear the Gospel, we do hear solid biblical principles for life, at least from many preachers. But in this present day, we need preachers who will raise their voices to rail against national sin and the evil workings of federal and state government.
Many of our pastors do not address the important political and social issues of our day. Instead, they remain quiet about these matters. But why is it that these topics are avoided in our nation’s pulpits? The 501(c)(3) tax exempt status keeps many of our clergy muzzled.
More than this, many pastors are fearful of losing people, something that impacts church finances. Pastors are often too submissive to government regulations and therefore fearful of consequences. What are they fearful of? Losing the tax exemption which could impact donations and even more than this, they are fearful of the prospect of their church having to pay taxes. However, most pastors are seemingly unaware of the fact that their only restriction is that a non-profit entity may not favor one political candidate over another. Consider the following from irs.gov:
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
So then, churches and pastors are not prohibited from criticizing unjust laws, government policies, or the workings of government in general. The only restriction is that churches may not favor one candidate over another in any election, whether local or national.
In the past twelve months, our nation’s political leaders have taken extraordinary steps, ostensibly to defeat the COVID virus. However, the results have been an intrusion upon the rights of the American people. The government shut down much of the economy, closed our schools, and hindered the ability of people to move about freely. Freedom of association was impacted and many lost their ability to earn a living. State borders were shut down and masks were effectively forced upon the public. Gun control and higher taxes are on the way. Washington, DC and many state governments have overstepped their constitutional bounds and essentially none of these steps were accomplished by legislation. Instead, a series of decrees through executive orders were used to force compliance.
Where is the rebuke of government on the part of our nation’s clergy? The Roman Catholic Church should excommunicate some of our highest level politicians just on the abortion issue alone. Evangelical pastors should also rise up and call out politicians of both parties for what has been done to the American people. Our pastors and clergy need to raise their voices and inspire their congregations to stand for righteousness, for freedom, for liberty, and for the rights of the unborn.
If ever there was a time for our nation’s ministers to be outspoken about government overreach, it is today. Issues of free speech, the right to life, the right to assemble, the right to chart one’s own course, the right of lawful self defense, the right to earn a living… All are under attack by a federal government with seemingly limitless power and both major political parties are guilty.
Much of what must be done should be borne by the citizens of this nation, but we need the encouragement and the exhortation of our pastors. More than that, we need the clergy to speak out and call attention to the wicked ways of those who are in power. Long ago, the contribution of the Black Robed Regiment helped to found a great nation and we will need men who stand in the pulpits today to provide inspiration and leadership to regain that which has been lost.
© Jeffery J. Michaels / Plain English Publications 2021
(Quotations allowed with attribution to this blog)