Foursquare President Glenn Burris. Jr. encourages you to join Pastor Jerry Dirmann of The Rock in Anaheim, Calif., and the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA ) to come together to defend important religious freedoms.
Below, read Jerry Dirmann’s letter to fellow pastors, as well as a letter from Regan VanSteenis, general counsel representing Lakewood Church in Houston.
A letter from Jerry Dirmann:
You’ve probably heard about the Senate Staff Report issued by Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-IA) which recommends changes in our laws regarding 17 issues that would violate the religious rights and freedom of churches and donors. I received the below letter and attachments from Regan VanSteenis, General Counsel representing Lakewood Church in Houston, TX. He, in partnership with the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA), is seeking to garner both the feedback and support of as many ministries and churches as possible by this Friday to strengthen their responses to these 17 issues in a manner which defends important religious freedoms.
This is a legal and moral issue, not a politically partisan issue. Our ministries have already been signed on, and I am encouraging other pastors and churches to consider the same. If you’d like to let the ECFA know that you agree with their concerns and responses, please sign the petition set up by Lakewood Church in Houston.
The Rock (Anaheim Foursquare Church)
A letter from Regan VanSteenis:
In 2007, Senate Finance Committee member Charles Grassley (R-IA), led a Senate investigation of several churches. As a result of his investigation, in 2011 Sen. Grassley issued a Senate Staff Report discussing the findings of the Senate investigation challenging several issues with church practices. The 17 issues being discussed include:
Removing the tax benefits associated with the charitable contribution deduction.
Restricting the minister’s housing allowance.
Requiring churches to file annual forms with the IRS disclosing major donors and staff pay.
Regulating who can be identified as a minister.
In effect, the Senate Staff Report’s solution to these issues equates to additional governmental regulation of churches – actions we believe exceed the government’s constitutional jurisdiction.
Last year Sen. Grassley asked the Evangelical Council of Financial Accountability (ECFA) to lead a national review on these 17 issues. To do so, the ECFA created the Commission on Accountability and Policy for Religious Organizations. This Commission is currently seeking public comments on the 17 issues, and we want to give you the opportunity to have your voice be heard.
With the help of Caplin & Drysdale, a Washington D.C. based law firm specializing in representing churches and charitable organizations, we have drafted responses to these 17 issues in a manner which we believe defends and preserves the religious freedoms we hold sacred. This effort has been led by Mr. Marcus S. Owens who, prior to his service at Caplin & Drysdale, served as Director of the Exempt Organizations Division of the IRS for 10 years.
To learn more, download the following documents:
ECFA Commission Introduction Letter (PDF, 112 KB)
An introductory letter to the Commission addressing our nation’s history on the church and its relationship to government.
Pastors Summary Response to Issues 1-17 (PDF, 140 KB)
This is a summarized version of the full text responses provided for your convenience.
ECFA Commission Full Text Responses to Issues 1-17 (PDF, 219 KB)
This is the full text version of the responses to the Commission.
To confirm your agreement with the ECFA, sign Lakewood Church’s petition by Friday, March 23, 2012.