Brandon Judy and his son Matthew preached recently in front Capitol about the Free Church movement, which says that churches should forgo 501c3 tax status so they can speak more freely about politics. They live in Sherman Oaks. All answers below are Brandon’s, unless the speaker is identified as Matt Judy.
Tell me about the Free Church movement.
We came from a conference last weekend in regards to a Free Church movement which is not regulated by the government, which is able to speak and do and say things that the 501c3 churches cannot do. The 501c3 tax-exempt status churches are restricted in what they can say and what they can do.
It might be one time throughout the year [that preachers speak on politics]. One time is not enough. If the leaders of the churches would be more vocal against the issues of the day then maybe we wouldn’t have all the wickedness, unrighteousness that’s reigning throughout this country. The judgment is probably already upon this land because we are not upholding the law of God. Instead we are forsaking the law of God and bringing out own laws. That’s not what The Bible says.
Do you know big the Free Church movement is?
I would say it’s probably about 100 churches, out of about 300,000 churches in America. I really don’t know. All I know is the few churches I’m aware of, which are a handful. Maybe a handful, 100 in each church maybe.
What could a church do if they forgo the 501c3 status?
I personally would like to exhort the pastors to be more vocal against the issues that are at hand. We have this state getting ready to vote on, for instance, Proposition 8. Again, I’m not no scholar or intellectual. But from what I understand we voted on that in 2000, the people. What’s taking place? The legislators are rewriting the law to get what they want. If the pastors would speak out against the unrighteousness that is, maybe we would hold them accountable to their oath that they’ve taken to uphold the law, to uphold the votes of the people. The pastors don’t do that because if they speak out against the issues at hand they risk that 501c3 tax-exempt status.
Do you know of churches that have had their status taken?
There’s a few. One is Indianapolis Baptist Temple in Indianapolis a few years ago. I don’t know the full scope on what the consequences of that were but supposedly it was a big church. There are probably a few churches in my research that have been confronted with the things that they have done. I’m only new to this about three years. There’s several books out there. One is “Approved by God” by Wright and Townsend. There’s another one by Gary Cass [CEO of the Christian Anti-Defamation League], I believe, that’s affiliated with James D. Kennedy down in Florida. The information is out there.
Do you belong to a free church in the Los Angeles area?
No we don’t. We go to an incorporated church. The word is being taught, but I’m in the process of making a decision of whether I should stay there. I brought it up in an indirect way and I was told “Brandon, if you don’t like the church’s policies, you might have to find another church to worship.” It was said by an elder that’s a very controversial issue. It wasn’t even talked in depth. But it’s been on my heart for the last year or so to try to present it in a truthful manner.
Why do most churches choose to have 501c3 status?
Matt Judy: They’re afraid they’re going to lose the gifts to the church and people will stop supporting them [because they can’t deduct donations on their taxes]. The churches think it’s a perk, that they’ll get money.
Brandon Judy: From what I understand and what I found out it came about in 1954 by Lyndon B. Johnson. He did not like what the churches were saying. He suggested a law. The church used to be the voice of the nation, the voice of the people. The legislators who were running the place followed. But now it’s not happening. Just as you got over there in San Francisco, right, the four judges that voted on the marriage issue. There’s no accountability.
If churches were allowed to speak more freely on politics, would that tip the needle in a conservative direction?
That’s a possibility. But God is sovereign. He’s going to bring about his plan and his rule. We are to lay down our lives for truth and righteousness. We’re not speaking out against it because we’re keeping it inside the church.
It’s not a political issue. It all revolves around salvation, which is from God. God calls men everywhere to be born again. That’s a radical transformation, supernatural, divine intervention by God Himself, that is able to cause one to be born again, to be moral, if you will. Under God’s law, you don’t need restrictions and more laws from the government imposed because truly born-again Christians should be walking in the righteousness of Christ and be in that light and the salt that God calls us to be. That might have an impact to those around us throughout the community and even in the Legislature. The bottom line, it’s salvation in Christ.