Persecution in the fine print…

Persecution in the fine print…

Image by Allegra.
Image by Allegra.

It pays to be a non-profit organization. Google offers non-profits free use of Google Apps. Amazon will give .5% of my orders to the non-profit of my choice. Microsoft will provide software to non-profits at a substantial discount. However, each of these offers has certain limitations. Amazon’s fine print is fairly typical when it says,

“Organizations that engage in, support, encourage, or promote intolerance, hate, terrorism, violence, money laundering, or other illegal activities are not eligible to participate.”

Maybe you think, “No problem. The only non-profit I care about is my church, and it doesn’t engage in those activities, even if the liberals think we are intolerant or hateful for calling homosexuals to repent of their sin.”

But not so fast. Just because you claim not to engage in those activities doesn’t mean that Amazon will agree. Silicon Valley isn’t exactly known for its conservative values. Still, maybe your church is safe. After all, Amazon doesn’t have the time to scrutinize every non-profit. This is exactly why Amazon has punted on the decision-making:

“Amazon relies on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control and the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine which registered charities fall into these groups.”

In other words, if the Southern Poverty Law Center decides you are anti-LGBT, you’re disqualified.

It used to be that benefits were available to all non-profits, and especially churches. Now more and more organizations are discriminating against faithful churches with wording like Amazon’s. As my friend Alex McNeilly said, “In the USA, it seems certain that the persecution of the church will happen in the fine print, and indeed already is.”

Why are there laws benefitting non-profits in the first place? Largely because of churches being seen as a public good. This is no longer the case. For example, Zendesk introduces its nonprofit program by saying they want to “help support people in the world who are doing good things.” It then continues on to exclude churches by prohibiting organizations that “promote a particular religious affiliation, dogma, or doctrine as part of its mission.”

With all apologies to Doug Wilson and my other postmillennial friends, things aren’t looking good. As public opinion goes, so goes the law. When it is no longer seen as a public good for churches to call people to live moral lives, we can soon expect churches to lose the non-profit benefits offered by the US government. And again, it is likely to happen in the fine print of the IRS tax code.

So how is this persecution? When the world offers you money to stop saying what God says, that’s just tempting. When she offers you money to shut up, and threatens to take away what you already have if you don’t, that’s not just tempting. It’s persecution.

Tim Keller is unlikely to ever make the SPLC’s anti-LGBT list. At Christ Church we will not have as our goal to fly under the radar with regard to issues of sexuality so as to avoid this sort of persecution. To do so would be to give in to temptation.

Rather, out of love, we will declare to a lost world, “God made sexuality good, and though we have corrupted it, He can purify it. And us. Join us in repentance and faith as we worship Him.”