Pray For US – Pray for the United States has set a long-term goal of abolishing 501C3 censorship status that the federal government “bestowed” on churches in 1954. We regularly offer healing prayers that the churches will throw off the chains of their government enslavement so that they can worship God fully and truly. The battle with the secular and pagan governments of the world attempting to control the church has been waging for close to 2,000 years now. Unlike the Christians in the Roman Empire, who literally laid their lives on the line to proclaim “No king but Jesus,” the church in America has meekly submitted to having the United States federal government become a co-head of the church, alongside Jesus Christ.
Registering a church as a 501C3 entity is, essentially, receiving permission and a license from the federal government to exist, with all of the attached rules and regulations that go along with licensed status. There is little difference between a 501C3 church in America and the state-sanctioned “church” in communist China, which exists only due to the benevolence of the state and preaches only state-approved doctrine.
Control and licensure of pagan churches and cults was standard procedure in the Roman Empire. Dr. RJ Rushdoony, in a booklet entitled “The ‘Atheism’ of the Early Church,” describes the conflict that came about when Christianity began spreading throughout the Empire:
Rome’s policy towards all religions was that no religion had a right to exist unless it was a licit religion, duly licensed by the Empire, and possessing a certificate of validation which members of that religion or cult were required to display on the walls of their meeting-place. A part of the procedure whereby that licit status was secured was to appear before a Roman imperial center, and there to put a little incense on a brazier before an image of the emperor or a battle insignia, and then declare very briefly, ‘Caesar is Lord!’ That was all. It was an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of Caesar over every area of life and thought.
But the Christians felt that they had been called instead to bring everything into captivity to Jesus Christ. We know from the research, for example, of JND Kelly, a British historian, that the baptismal confession, required of all believers in the early church, was to stand before the congregation and declare, ‘Jesus is Lord’ or ‘Jesus Christ is Lord.’ In so doing Christians put their heads on the chopping-block. They became a subversive force because through their confession they denied the lordship of Caesar.*
The attitude of modern American Christians is that Caesar, or in our case, the federal government, is indeed Lord; and that Christian churches and institutions only “lawfully” exist through the permission of the state.
For example, young Christians who want to “enter the ministry” are mainly interested in studying at a seminary that is accredited – that is, a school licensed and approved by the state. In their minds, a Christian seminary or university is only credible and worthy if it has been given a stamp of approval by the federal government. Many of these seminaries instruct budding pastors on how to start a church, and the coursework includes how to fill out the 501C3 paperwork! And in turn, churches will not hire a pastor unless he has received a degree from an accredited, government-sanctioned seminary.
As the power of the federal government continues to grow, consolidate and assert its sovereignty over every area of life, Washington, D.C. is increasingly at odds with the church, just as ancient Rome was.
When early Christians refused to submit to Caesar, the church was branded as a group of ‘atheists’ (for refusal to worship the head of the government). As Dr. Rushdoony also pointed out, the philosophers in Rome declared that Christians were cannibals. This stemmed from the fact that Christians would rescue abandoned babies (from failed abortion attempts) and raise them within the Christian faith as their own children. The philosophers – the liberal know-it-alls of their day – claimed that the Christians were eating these children in their Passover celebrations, in spite of the obvious fact that the children were growing up and walking around for everyone to see.
Through biblical faithfulness, the early Christians made the Roman government look increasingly evil by comparison. The level of persecution against them ramped up considerably as a consequence.
Today we see increasing federal intolerance for Christians in America, due to the growing home church movement and the refusal to submit to Caesar Obama for licensure. As we’ve documented here at Pray For US – Pray for the United States, the American military is now branding Christians as terrorists. Some faithful pastors believe that we may see open government persecution and internment of Christians within the next few decades if things continue down this path.
That is why Pray For US will continue the fight to free our churches from the 501C3 chains that are censoring the application of the Gospel to every area of life, including politics.
*”The ‘Atheism’ of the Early Church” is provided free online by the Chalcedon Foundation. The entire booklet is very worthwhile to read and is available HERE.