Our Threatened Freedom

Has The First Amendment Been Nullified? (03:58)

R.J. Rushdoony


R.J. Rushdoony: 00:00 Has the First Amendment been nullified? This is R.J. Rushdoony with a report on our threatened freedom.

R.J. Rushdoony: 00:08 Has the First Amendment been rendered null and void by the 16th, or income tax amendment? Federal and state authorities are ready to argue that this is in fact the case. Listen to what the State of California Franchise Tax Board wrote to Pastor Harry Jackson of Calvary Baptist Church in Fairfield, California November 5, 1979. “The 16th Amendment authorizes Congress to levy a tax on income. There is no exclusion for churches, so they have no constitutional exemption. There is a provision in the Internal Revenue Code for a statutory exemption. The state constitution is subservient to the federal constitution, so the above applies for state purposes. Article 13 Sections 26 and 27 provide for the income and franchise tax, but it contains no provision for exemption for churches. Again, the exemption from state income tax is provided by state statute, not by the constitution. For state purposes the statute is Section 23701(d) of the Revenue and Taxation Code. As shown by the facts stated above, neither the Federal nor state constitution provides for exemption for income tax for churches.”

R.J. Rushdoony: 01:33 Consider what it means to say that the churches have no constitutional exemption from income and other taxes, only a statutory one. The life of the church is then placed in the hands of the IRS and like agencies, and its freedom can be revoked at the will of a bureaucracy. This is not an academic question. Pastor Harry Jackson’s church and about 60 others had their tax exemptions revoked. With many of them it began with their stand on a state proposition concerning homosexuality. This supposedly violated a bureaucratic form requiring no stand by churches on valiant measures, and their tax exemptions were revoked because they could not in good conscience sign Form 199B. This meant that these churches would then be sold for back taxes, which they were refusing to pay on constitutional grounds.

R.J. Rushdoony: 02:32 The only thing unusual about this case is that you did not read about it in the press. This should not surprise us. Many such cases go unpublicized. No civil government gives publicity to the fact that it is taking over churches or taking away our liberties, nor does a subservient [inaudible 00:02:58] such facts either. If the 16th Amendment can be said to have wiped out the constitutional immunity of churches to taxation, it is easy enough to find in some other amendment or law reasons for curtailing freedom of speech, press, assembly, petition and more. You can be sure that it is being done, and that in one area after another our freedom is rapidly disappearing. The founding fathers saw civil government as a dangerous power to be chained and restrained. We have been unchaining that power and feeding it, feeding it with more and more taxes, and now we are in trouble. The choice is before us, freedom or controls.

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965.  His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.”  He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

Learn more about R.J. Rushdoony by visiting: https://chalcedon.edu/founder