The Silent Church
“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.” – Jesus Christ
Christendom in America really “has it made in the shade.”
Federal 501(c)(3) status means exemption from income and property tax. The average pastor with a flock of more than 2,000 people earns $147,000. With an estimated 1,300 Protestant and Evangelical megachurches thriving in the United States, that’s a lot of tax-free kabbage funding the Lord’s work.
Of course, the IRS’ 501(c)(3) clause states that churches are 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.”
Some argue that this clause impinges on the spirit of the U.S. Constitution, which imposes a separation of church and state and guarantees free speech to pastors. Which is to say that if Hitler were to run for President of the United States (POTUS) today, church leaders enjoying tax-exempt status could not legally speak out against him.
This tenuous liaison between the church and the state in Europe and America has, since Christ’s own feud with the Israeli Sanhedrin over the Throne of David, been fraught with moral and ethnic compromise, questionable treaties and even betrayal and murder.
In Germany Martin Luther, considered a pillar of the Protestant Reformation, demanded the persecution of the Jews of his time by the destruction of their schools, synagogues, houses, books and even their right to travel.
Decades prior to the Civil War, Southern American cities like Montgomery, Alabama; Louisville, Kentucky; and Augusta, Georgia; witnessed their Methodists, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Baptists split from their Union brethren officially by forming new denominations…some of which never returned to their parent groups once the war was won.
Unfortunately, Confederate religious support of white-superiority philosophy went far beyond mere political assent. During the fifty years between the fall of Reconstruction and the onset of the Great Depression, such a high rate of the lynching of Black Americans took place in the American South–roughly one per week–that it is commonly referred to as the “lynching era.”
A major reason why lynching is connected to Christianity is that most lynchings actually occurred on Sunday afternoons, shortly after church services concluded. After Sunday services were let out, these executions were well attended by professing Christians, including church leaders.
No one ever talks about this…in or out of the church.
According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia, the population of Germany in 1933 was around 60 million. Almost all Germans were Christian, being either Roman Catholic (ca. 20 million members) or Protestant (ca. 40 million members) churches. The Jewish community in Germany in 1933 was less than 1% of the total population of the country.
How did Christians and their churches in Germany respond to the Nazi regime and its laws, particularly to the persecution of the Jews?
The general tactic by the leadership of both Protestant and Catholic churches in Germany was caution with respect to protest and compromise with the Nazi state leadership where possible. There was virtually no public opposition to antisemitism or any readiness by church leaders to publicly oppose the regime on the issues of antisemitism and state-sanctioned violence against the Jews.
And we wonder why Jews view Christian attempts to evangelize them with contempt and suspicion…actions (or the lack thereof) speak louder than words.
I’ve left quite a bit out of this blog, including the Roman Catholic Church’s own unspeakable pogroms against its own members and others and choose at this point to conclude my brief thesis with President Donald John Trump.
President Trump, by his own admission, is a misogynist, racist, and imperialistic capitalist with an unashamed and demonstrated admiration of and affection for political despots (Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jongun and Russian President Vladimir Putin).
There is no doubt in my mind that Donald J. Trump could have never become President of the United States without the support of the American Catholic, Protestant and Evangelical church segments INCLUDING THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH (of which Ben Carson, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, is a practicing member and I myself a lifetime member and attendee).
Even as I write this, President Trump is conducting a heartless and unprecedented enforcement of federal immigration statutes against defenseless children from Mexico and Central America…people who’s ancestors roamed these lands long before the arrival of the Vikings or Columbus…
…and the American Church is SILENT…
Following are the links I used for sources:
Tax Information for Churches and Religious Organizations
Holocaust Encyclopedia: The German Churches and the Nazi State
List of Megachurches in the United States
The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
Christianity Today: Should Churches keep their Civil War Landmarks?
Martin Luther and Antisemitism
NCBI: Practicing What They Preach? Lynching and Religion in the American South, 1890 – 1929*
Convergence OAKLAND: Sunday Lynchings: The Church’s Role in Our Nation’s Legacy of Racism
Vox: The Trump administration’s separation of families at the border, explained
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