According to the IRS Code (Pub 557, and Code Section 508), churches are automatically tax-exempt organizations, and contributions to these religious bodies are automatically tax-deductible. Churches have no need to file for 501(c)3 organization status — and in fact could not do so till 1954. Nevertheless, since then, churches have signed away their freedom to speak truth to power for this Constitutionally unnecessary status.
By conscious discernment at its founding, the New Methodist Conference is not a 501(c)3 corporation. We have no property, church buildings or bank accounts, and our clergy receive no salaries. Our model is a community of servants, and our resources and energies are invested in our local ministries.
So who benefits when a Church becomes such tax-exempt organization under the 501(c)3 provisions? The government. A cornerstone of the 501(c)3 application process is signing an agreement that such a church or organization will not meaningfully participate in the political process. For churches this effectively silences our calling to prophetic witness, and our ability to bring the Light of the Gospel to bear on the state of our government and leaders.