A Christian church in Kansas has told the Internal Revenue Service that it will not stop teaching and preaching God’s Word, “even if it relates to contemporary issues in the world,” after the federal agency demanded answers to 31 questions about its beliefs and warned about “political” activity.
Spirit One Christian Center Pastor Mark Holick told WND that the IRS, perhaps, should brush up on the freedoms assured U.S. citizens regarding religion and speech before making such demands in the future.
An announcement about the IRS crackdown on moral statements by the church
He said the issues the church addressed – and will continue to address – concern issues that the Bible addresses, such as killing and protecting the defenseless.
The response came to a series of questions from the IRS questioning whether the church was involved in “political” activity. In specific, Holick said, the IRS cited a sign that read: “Sebelius accepted $300,000.00 from abortionist Tiller, price of 1000 babies.”
But that, he said, was just part of a responsibility on the part of a Christian church to comment on abortion, a red-hot topic in the church’s home city of Wichita.
A Christian organization needs to be able to talk of the moral issues of the day – including abortion, Holick noted. The sign just told of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ connections to the abortion industry.
Holick told WND that the IRS letter challenged a variety of the church’s activities, including the posting of various pro-life messages on the building marquee.
“They felt like they had a reasonable concern that we had been involved in political activity,” he said.
But politics are of no interest to the church; issues of moral character addressed in the Bible are, he said.
One of the signs on the Spirit One church marquee
“The church does not intend to engage in political intervention activity as prohibited by federal law and the United States Constitution,” he told the IRS. “But the church will not stop communicating its Biblical message, even if it relates to contemporary issues in the world.
“Thus,” Holick continued, “the church cannot agree to not engage in any activity that may favor or oppose a candidate. Simply preaching the word of God on a moral issue which a candidate is opposed, may be deemed to oppose a candidate. While it is the church’s policy not to oppose or endorse a candidate for office, it will not stop preaching God’s word.”
He continued: “The United States Constitution guarantees that Spirit One will be able to freely exercise its religion, and that Congress will not pass any law restricting that right. This is all Spirit One wants to do – communicate God’s word.
“The 1st Amendment of the Constitution is a respected and renowned oracle celebrated all over the nations of the world. It is quite specific and clear; ‘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…,'” Holick said.
He said the IRS also raised questions about a voter information guide that was handed out in Wichita, although his church did not sponsor it, as well as an abortion-issue related e-mail he had forwarded.
He said he didn’t know who would have filed a complaint about his church with the IRS. “We’re a very vocal pro-family, pro-life church,” he said. “That creates enemies.”
“These are not political issues, these are Gospel issues, Christian issues,” he said.
He noted that the IRS even wanted to know whether Phill Kline, the Republican state attorney general who was defeated in his re-election bid in 2006, had ever spoken at the church, and what were the details of his address.
“It’s crazy,” Holick told WND.
“Please provide a detailed explanation of Mr. Kline’s speech. Include details such as the topic of the speech, whether he solicited votes during this speech to the congregation, whether he discussed the election during the speech, and whether he discussed other candidates in the election during the speech,” the IRS wrote.
“He ministered from the Bible, mostly the book of Genesis, and on truth. He did not speak about elections or political candidates. But because it was so long ago (2003 and 2004), the church does not remember any more specific details,” Holick responded.
To another question about whether certain signs were “political,” Holick wrote:
“The signs were not political activities, but rather, were examples of how Spirit One communicates its religious message. The signs all pertained to respect for life and family, a key and fundamental teaching of the scriptures (see Ps. 139:13-15, Jer. 1:4-5, Lk. 1:41-44, Lk. 1:15, Ge. 25:23, Gal. 1:15, Ge. 1:27, Job 10:12, Pr. 24:11-12, Jr. 7:2, Jr. 22:3, 17, Ex. 23:7, Ex. 20:13, Rv. 21:8, Ge. 9:6, 2 Ki. 17:16-20, Jr. 32:35, Jr. 7:31, Mt. 19:5.).”
Holick said the congregation of about 100, meeting as a church for 16 years already, has been strong throughout the challenge by the federal government.
Holick also told the IRS that the signs all “are spiritual messages that communicate God’s truth, or are directly related to messages in the Bible.” And to the question “why,” he said: “The purpose is to obey the Lord, proclaim His Word (the Gospel), and establish His kingdom.”
“The following are just a few of the many Scripture references related to the purpose of the signs:
-to lift up Jesus (Ps. 24:7-9)
-to rebuke sin (Lk. 3:8)
-to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8)
-to save babies (Lv. 20:1-5)
-to be honest (Is. 59:14)
-to take a righteous stand (Ps. 9:8)
-to rescue the weak and needy (Ps. 12:5)
-to demonstrate true religion by loving preborn neighbors (Jm. 1:27)
-to call a wicked city to repent (Ex. 23:7)
-to educate and inform about Jesus who IS truth (Jn. 14:6)
-to obey the call to preach, including rebuking (Acts 16:10)
-to stand in the gap against evil (Ez. 22:30)
-to confront hypocrites (1 Ki. 18:17-18)
-to confront immoral politicians (1 Ki. 18)
-to declare the whole counsel of God (Jn. 14:26)
-to disciple children (Pr. 22:6)
-to save America (Dt. 28)
-to stop the shedding of innocent blood (Jr. 22:17)
-to not allow the city to be comfortable while babies are murdered (Pr. 1:32)
-to glorify God (Ps. 86:12)
-to destroy the works of the devil (1 Jn. 3:8)
-to make the Pastor’s calling and election sure (2 Pe. 1:3)
-to work out the Pastor’s salvation with fear and trembling (Ph. 2:12)
-to take dominion for King Jesus over this wicked city (Dn. 7:14)
-to promote the fear of God, for it is the beginning of wisdom (Pr. 9:10)
-to spark a Revival (Jl. 2:12-13)
-to separate the wheat from the chaff in this church and other churches (Is. 40:24)
-to obey Ephesians 5:11 and reprove the fruitless deeds of darkness (Ep. 5:11)
-to act like a Christian (Jm. 1:27 – what the Bible calls true religion)
-to train others how to act and speak (Jm. 2:22)
-to expose and confront evildoers (Ez. 20:4)
-to prophesy against wickedness (Is. 58:1)
-as an act of worship (Jn. 14:15)”
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