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By Mark and Tina Terry

The Presbyterian Church recently made a lot of self-righteous noise about those Bad Guns. You know, the ones that Hurt People just by being in your closet. The Terrys ask a very pertinent question. Why isn't the IRS also asking it?

Recent news stories concerning the Presbyterian Church's anti-Bill of Rights policies concerning gun ownership prompted me to request information regarding their position from the "Criminal Justice Program" of the Presbyterian church.

In a document entitled "Public Policy Statements of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)" are found the following statements and recommendations concerning gun control:

The108th assembly of the PCUS advocated effective control;

The 202nd General Assembly (1990) of the Presbyterian Church(USA) supports gun control at the federal, state and local levels… support of assault weapon control… and opposition to the use of deadly force by individuals in defense of property.

Calls upon the United States Government to establish meaningful and effective legislation to regulate the importation, manufacture, sale and possession of guns and ammunition to the general public.

Urges the enactment of similar state and local laws…

Directs… [communication of] this resolution to the congress and the President….

Requests the denomination's Washington Office to…develop model legislation and guidelines for implementation.

Directs this statement to be widely published and sent to state governors, members of Congress, and the administration from whom we urge some commonsense legislation…

The Presbyterian church therefore, according to its policy statement, and according to IRS Publications 557 and 1828, is involved in lobbying. IRS Publication 557 states in pertinent part:

In general, if a substantial part of the activities of your organization consists of carrying on propaganda or otherwise attempting to influence legislation, your organization's exemption from federal income tax will be denied. However, a public charity (other than a church, an integrated auxiliary of a church or of a convention or association of churches, or a member of an affiliated group of organizations that includes a church, etc.) may avoid this result.

These elective provisions for lobbying activities by public charities do not apply to a church, an integrated auxiliary of a church or of a convention or association of churches, or a member of an affiliated group of organizations that includes a church, etc., or a private foundation.

Tax on organization. Organizations that lose their exemption under section 501(c)(3) due to lobbying activities generally will be subject to an excise tax of 5% of the lobbying expenditures.

IRS Publication 1828 provides the following:


In general, no organization, including a church, may qualify for tax-exempt status as a charitable organization if a substantial part of its activities is attempting to influence legislation.

Whether an organization's legislative activity constitutes a "substantial part" of its overall activities is determined on the basis of all the pertinent facts and circumstances in each case. Consideration is given to a variety of factors including the time devoted by the organization to the activity (by both compensated and volunteer workers), assets devoted to the activity (such as office space, machinery, etc.), as well as expenditures.


An organization will be regarded as "attempting to influence legislation" (commonly known as "lobbying") if it contacts, or urges the public to contact, members of a legislative body for the purpose of proposing, supporting, or opposing legislation, or if the organization advocates the adoption or rejection of legislation.

Organizations may, however, involve themselves in issues of public policy so long as the involvement does not result in attempts to influence legislation that constitute a substantial part of their activities..


'Legislation' includes action by the Congress, any state legislature, any local council or similar governing body, or by the public in a referendum, initiative, constitutional amendment, or similar procedure.

The election to use the "expenditure" test is made by filing Form 5768, Election/Revocation of Election by an Eligible Section 501(c)(3) Organization to Make Expenditures to Influence Legislation, during the tax year for which it is to be effective. The election remains in effect for succeeding years until it is revoked by the organization. By law, churches may not make this election and thus are covered under the substantial part test.


An organization that continues to lobby on an excessive basis may lose its tax exemption under section 501(c)(3). If an organization loses its status as a tax-exempt charitable organization because it engages in excessive legislative activity, it may not thereafter qualify for exemption as a social welfare organization under section 501(c)(4).

Is this limitation on lobbying constitutional? Courts have long held that government should not subsidize partisan, political advocacy under the guise of educational activities. Taxation without Representation of Washington v. Regan, 676 F.2d 715, 736 (D.C. Cir 1982). Taxpayers should not subsidize efforts at political advocacy or lobbying. Christian Echoes National Ministry v. United States, 470 F.2d 849 (10th Cir. 1972); see also Regan v. Taxation With Representation of Washington, 461 U.S. 540 (1983). "The limitations in section 501(c)(3) stem from congressional policy that the United States Treasury should be neutral in political affairs and that substantial activities directed to attempts to influence legislation or affect a political campaign should not be subsidized." Christian Echoes, 470 F.2d at 854.

In its aggressive move to disarm the American public, the Presbyterian Church is clearly involved in a tax-free effort to demolish the Bill of Rights, and it boldly claims to have been involved in this effort since 1968, in clear violation of its 501(c)(3) status. The Church is still today proceeding with this effort, apparently with the blessings of the IRS and Congress, and because of its tax-free status, it is being subsidized by the taxpayers to do so. Tax-exempt, pro-Second Amendment organizations, such as NRA, cannot lobby and retain their tax-exempt status, so NRA employs the NRA Institute for Legislative Action as its lawful lobbying arm. In such capacity, donations to the NRA-ILA are not tax deductible.

However, the IRS takes the liberty, at its discretion, of overlooking the unlawful lobbying activities of certain churches. During the 1988 presidential campaign, Reverend Jesse L. Jackson took up collections at churches around the country. See "I.R.S. Is Urged to Investigate Jackson's Church Collections," N.Y Times at B6 (Feb. 17, 1988). It appears that the tax-exempt status of the churches at which Reverend Jackson collected campaign funds is still unchallenged by IRS.

Such activities of IRS apparently even have the blessings of some courts. In 1980, two days before Massachusetts' congressional primary, Boston's Roman Catholic Archbishop issued a letter that was read from the pulpits throughout the state urging Catholics not to vote for pro-choice candidates. See Anthony Lewis, Religion and Politics, N.Y Times at A31 (Sept. 17, 1980). Pro-choice activists subsequently brought an unsuccessful action seeking to force the Department of the Treasury to revoke the Catholic Church's tax exemption. See Abortion Rights Mobilization v. Regan, 544 F.Supp. 471 S.D.N.Y 1982). The Second Circuit, in a 2-to-1 decision, ruled on remand from the Supreme Court that Abortion Rights Mobilization, Inc. did not have standing to challenge the IRS' recognition of tax-exempt status to the Catholic Church. However, for purposes of analyzing the standing issue, the court accepted the plaintiffs' allegations that the Catholic Church has repeatedly violated section 501(c)(3)'s prohibition on political campaigning by endorsing pro-life political candidates and by opposing pro-choice candidates. In addition, the court accepted that the IRS knew about the Catholic Church's politicking and had chosen to ignore it rather than revoke the Church's tax-exempt status.

Finally, in 1992, IRS issued a warning to, but did not revoke the tax exempt status of, the Jimmy Swaggart Ministries for its endorsement of Reverend Pat Robertson for president in 1986. See "Jimmy Swaggart Ministry Admits Tax Law Violation," L.A. Times at F17 (Feb. 1, 1992)

Unfortunately, it seems that the only type of political activity which IRS selectively prosecutes is that which is adverse to political correctness or the current administration. On October 30, 1992, four days before the presidential election, Branch Ministries, Inc., doing business as the Church at Pierce Creek, and Pastor Dan Little, the pastor of the Church at Pierce Creek, bought advertising space in The Washington Times and USA Today to print an open letter. The letter, which was headed "Christian Beware," described then-Governor Clinton as supporting abortion on demand, homosexuality and the distribution of condoms to teenagers in the public schools. The letter cited various Biblical passages and concluded with the statement: "How then can we vote for Bill Clinton?" The letter concluded in fine print: "Tax-deductible contributions for this advertisement gladly accepted" and requested that donations be made to The Church at Pierce Creek. IRS subsequently revoked the Church's 501(c)(3) Tax exempt status retroactive to January 1, 1992.

In addition to its still tax-exempt lobbying efforts, the Presbyterian Church also interprets portions of the Bill of Rights in a way which can only be described as distorted. In its Policy Statement, the Presbyterian Church pronounces that it has determined that: "the second amendment applies only to the right of states to maintain a well-organized militia." This interpretation of the term "militia" is entirely repugnant to the U.S. Constitution, to many state constitutions and to federal and state statutes.

The sole interpretation of the Second Amendment which the Church relies upon - that the Second Amendment applies only to the right of states to maintain a well-organized militia - is from an article written by Warren E. Burger, and which was published in the Keene Sentinel, Nov. 26, 1991. Former Chief Justice Burger, who had been known to answer a knock at his door by appearing with a gun in his hand, also said that, "If I were writing the Bill of Rights now there wouldn't be any such thing as the Second Amendment. (From MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour, Dec. 16, 1991 available in LEXIS, Nexis Library, Arcnws File; Guns and the Law, Phoenix Gazette, Feb. 22, 1990, at A10.)

Presbyterian Church leaders are also apparently satisfied that the "people" referred to in the First Amendment - the "people" whose rights to freedom of speech and freedom of religion are protected by the First Amendment - are somehow not the same as the "people" referred to in the Second Amendment.

The same Church leaders appear unable to understand either the function or the limitations of a subordinate clause ("A well-regulated Militia being necessary to the security of a free State…) in proper English usage. Many English and linguistics experts have determined that the primary statement of the Second Amendment is: "The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed," and that this statement is neither mitigated nor diminished by the subordinate clause preceding it. Apparently, the dumbing down of the American citizenry is causing more and more people to not understand simple English construction, and to thus not understand their rights. One might compare the construction of the Second Amendment to the construction of a similar sentence: George M. Horn, Department of Linguistics, University of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, supplies this explanation and analogy:

If we look at the grammatical construction of the amendment, it becomes clear that whatever the interpretation given to the first clause, the stated right to bear arms in the second clause is absolute. The first clause merely specifies a context or reason, for the granting of the right in the first place. It does not constitute any condition on this right.

To see this more clearly, consider the following declaration, which is structurally analogous to the statement of the amendment: 'John being a true friend, the right of his family members to make unlimited withdrawals from my bank account shall not be infringed.'

Suppose I were to sign such a statement, have it notarized and send it to my bank. If at some later time John proves not to be such a true friend, but his family members nevertheless decide to exercise their right to empty my bank account, I cannot argue that they no longer have that right, since the right as conferred, does not depend on John's friendship, but was simply given to them because of that friendship. My only recourse is to rescind the right at the time that our friendship ends, before they have a chance to profit from it.

Further, the Second Amendment does not specify any regulations for the militia whatsoever. This is not surprising, since Article I of the Constitution sets forth a complete statement allocating responsibility for regulating the militia. The significance attributed to the term "Militia" in the Second Amendment appears from the debates in the Convention, the history and legislation of Colonies and States, and the writings of approved commentators. These writings clearly and repeatedly confirm that the Militia comprised all males physically capable of acting in concert for the common defense, and that ordinarily, when called for service, these men were expected to appear bearing arms supplied by themselves and of the kind in common use at the time. The Church leaders, in their propaganda puff piece which insists that private citizens are excluded from the militia, also choose to utterly ignore Title 10, USC § 101 (which provides that the definition of "militia" is different from the definition of the National Guard) and § 311 (which provides that all able-bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 constitute the militia.)

Here in Arizona, the Presbyterian Church Leaders must also ignore the definition of unorganized militia in Article 16 section 1 of the Arizona Constitution, which provides that all able bodied men between the ages of 18 and 45 constitute the unorganized militia. Article 16 section 2 of the Arizona Constitution provides that the Arizona National Guard constitutes the organized militia. Thus, the kindest thing that may be said about the Presbyterian Church Criminal Justice Program is that it is extremely conservative with the truth when it comes to promoting its anti-Bill of Rights agenda.

In Sirah-28 of the Apocrypha, the following verses appropriately address such untruths and the results thereof:

[13] Curse the whisperer and doubletongued: for such have destroyed many that were at peace. [14] A backbiting tongue hath disquieted many, and driven them from nation to nation: strong cities hath it pulled down, and overthrown the houses of great men. [15] A backbiting tongue hath cast out virtuous women, and deprived them of their labours.[16] Whoso hearkeneth unto it shall never find rest, and never dwell quietly. [17] The stroke of the whip maketh marks in the flesh: but the stroke of the tongue breaketh the bones.[18] Many have fallen by the edge of the sword: but not so many as have fallen by the tongue.

A modern-day interpretation of the above could be consistent with the way in which Adolph Hitler utilized Presbyterianesque anti-gun propaganda, the ultimate result being the disarming and subsequent torture and murder of millions of people. What is apparent here is that the Church Leadership, through and by its deceit surrounding the truthful meaning of the Second Amendment, is compelling the people to break their yokes of wood, the ultimate result being replacement with yokes of iron, as is described in Jeremiah 28.

The Presbyterian Church should also brush up on American and British history, since, if the British had succeeded in their efforts at gun control of the colonists before the American Revolution, the Presbyterians would today most likely be either attending the Church of England with the Queen as its leader, or else be members of a non-official church of lesser stature in the eyes of the state, a.k.a. the Crown. The selective Calvinist bible interpretations by the Presbyterian leadership also clearly overlook the embarrassing instructions from Jesus in Luke.22: "Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one." What do you suppose was the purpose of the sword, and why were the disciples compelled by Jesus to purchase one?

The Presbyterian Church must also turn a blind eye to states like Louisiana, which passed legislation which permits one to use deadly force when confronted with car-jacking, the result of which is that car-jacking in Louisiana is almost nonexistent. And it's hardly fair for Presbyterian church members to rely for their safety on their fact that criminals don't know who is and who is not armed, and who is willing or unwilling to defend their persons and property. The Presbyterian church, while exhorting its flock to disarm themselves, seems strangely unwilling to equally exhort them to publicize their defenseless status.

The Church leadership also seems unwilling to examine the truth of what really happens when people disarm themselves, and subject themselves unarmed to the fist of the state. The Church leadership would also do well to examine every "fact" upon which they rely in their anti-Bill of Rights agenda, and examine every written word of their anti-gun propaganda, and replace the lies therein with the truth.

Proverbs 14[5] A faithful witness will not lie: but a false witness will utter lies.

Proverbs 29 [12] If a ruler hearken to lies, all his servants are wicked.

Proverbs 6 [16] These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: [17] A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,[18] An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, [19] A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Psalms 101 [7] He that worketh deceit shall not dwell within my house: he that telleth lies shall not tarry in my sight. [8] I will early destroy all the wicked of the land; that I may cut off all wicked doers from the city of the LORD.

Finally, until all Presbyterian Church members install signs and wear buttons declaring publicly that they are unarmed and defenseless, and that they will not protect their property with guns, how can anyone take them or their Church seriously? After all, we would ridicule someone who vociferously promoted vegetarianism while wolfing down a steak at Sizzler's Steak House.

(c) Mark & Tina Terry 1998.

This article may be freely forwarded and reprinted as long as nothing in it is changed, and credit is given the authors. The authors encourage everyone reading this article to contact their Congressmen and express their concern that the Presbyterian church is violating its tax-exempt status by such aggressive lobbying.

The proprieter of Wolfe's Lodge, on the other hand, will bet you a silver dollar that no matter how many indignant letters you write, a government-established church will never be slapped for its lobbying activities.

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16 July, 1998