Of course, we know the church is much more than just a social club for believers. Since the time of Christ, the church has literally transformed individual lives and entire societies. We receive biblical teaching in the church that directs us from our selfish sin nature into becoming Christ-like disciples. But the Bible teaches that our lives are not changed through the church simply for our own benefit—we are meant to love and serve others and share the same truth of the Gospel that changed us from the inside out.

The founders of our nation certainly understood the valuable role of churches and religion. President John Adams observed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” As I shared in my February testimony for the Ways & Means Committee, “Religious congregations provide an environment for discipleship and instill strong virtues necessary for democracy.”

Churches and religious institutions have long received the same tax benefits and giving incentives as other charities. In fact, since our nation’s earliest federal income tax codes, “religious” organizations have been the first ones listed as recognized for tax-exempt purposes. Not only that, religious values also inspire other recognized tax-exempt purposes like charity, education and others.

As Congress continues working through the challenging financial issues facing our country, it is incumbent upon us as believers to speak out on the valuable benefits that our churches and other Christ-centered organizations provide. While biblical principles should always guide our commitment to giving, we should also seek to preserve the tax benefits and giving incentives historically guaranteed churches that are afforded to all other charitable organizations. Religion and religious-based causes should not be discriminated against in our country that was founded in part to promote religious belief and freedom.

Ideas have consequences, and while the majority of people today would probably disagree with Professor Colombo’s conclusion that churches are “nothing more than clubs for believers,” we must do our part to reject these dangerous ideas—not only in our words but, more importantly, in our actions, just as Christ taught us to do.

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Dan Busby is president of president of ECFA (Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability), an accreditation organization that sets standards for governance, financial management and fundraising/stewardship for churches and other nonprofits across the country.

Publication date: March 25, 2013