Kelly Shackelford in World Magazine

Wrong, bad, and dangerous

Fellow believers holding their church and one another accountable for how we spend ministry money is a good idea. Inviting government to do so is not. Whether I agree with these ministries and churches’ theology or not, what Grassley and the Senate are attempting (“The tall Grass[ley],” May 31) is a massive intrusion into religious freedom and sets a dangerous precedent for government power over the church. It is also morally wrong: The Church Audit Procedures Act was passed in 1984 to stop politically motivated IRS attacks and ensure confidentiality. Dragging churches and ministries into the mud in public and asking them to prove their innocence is morally wrong.

It is also a violation of Scripture for any Christian to promote such a public inquisition. As 1 Corinthians 6 makes clear, exposing Christian conflicts or wrongs in public before a secular audience is a horrible witness and damages the Body of Christ. This public inquisition is wrong morally and biblically, destructive to the Body of Christ, and sets horrible precedent. I assure you that if this government “investigation” is carried out, it will be cited in the future to justify many more incursions into the church. Every believer should demand that it stop before more damage is done.
—Kelly Shackelford, Liberty Legal Institute; Dallas, Texas

Copyright © 2008 WORLD Magazine
September 06, 2008, Vol. 23, No. 18

What are your comments?  Is the Grassley investigation good or bad?

One Response to Kelly Shackelford in World Magazine

  1. Brent Thompson says:

    Brother Kelly, So long as American churches continue to suckle on the US government through the issuance of tax deductions for contributions, the Senator Grassleys of Congress will always have a hook into church finances. Yes, I take my tax deductions just like nearly everyone else who gives to a church; but I am not fooled into thinking that this governmental largesse is an entitlement. Secondly, you said in your opening sentence that it is a good idea for fellow believers to hold one another and their church financially accountable. Well, a quick review of the membership roles of the Evangelical Council on Financial Accountability reveals that none of the ministries investigated by Senator Grassley is a member. These ministries’ thumb their noses at legitimate inter- and intra-Christian councils to do the very thing you call for. Finally, you overstate the application of 1 Corinthians 6 when you say that Christians violate Scripture when calling for such governmental accountability. Clearly that chapter is about disputes between believers and says nothing about financially secretive ministers who refuse to be accountable to the government for their use of tax deductible contributions. If these ministries want the government out of their business, then they should stop issuing tax deductions: The government would then have no basis for their investigation. Yours in Christ, Brent Thompson, Plano, TX, J.D., M.Div.

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