Chapter 6: Analysis of “We Can’t Give it to Other Churches!”

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Chapter 6: Analysis of “We Can’t Give it to Other Churches!”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 24, 2014

Note. This is a continuation of the examination of Chapter 18 of Approved by God written by Ben Townsend of the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”). This article looks at the fifth section of that chapter

1More misdirection in this section. The ELC ignorantly states that the DOT recommended by the BLC and the ordinary Bible trust recommended by this “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry is exactly the same as the business trust documents allegedly used by several religious organizations. The ELC states that it is too late to make the statement, “We can’t give it to other churches,” since:

“The Declaration of Trust, being a Trust document, has been used for many years by other denominations including the Presbyterians. It is not solely a Baptist document for unincorporated Baptist Churches to use. The Ecclesiastical Law Center advises churches to not use a Declaration of Trust, a corporation, an unincorporated association, or any legal entity to hold their church assets and property.”

Then the section lists several religious organizations that allegedly “had a Declaration of Trust long before 1986.” This author will not take the time to investigate the truth of whether those religious organizations use DOTs, and, if so, the substance of the trust documents and the kind of trusts thereby created. There are enough obvious (to one who has studied and understands these matters) fallacies in this short section to demonstrate that the ELC misdirects the unwary. As shown throughout these articles, the ELC trust salad includes principles from business trust law, charitable trust law, corporation law, along with fallacies which are derived from the imaginations of ELC teachers (at best). ELC “teaching” mixes all these ingredients into a poisonous salad consumed by many good, unsuspecting believers. They should throw out their poisonous menu and adopt the law of ordinary trust used by the Biblical Law Center (“BLC”) or the ordinary Bible trust recommended by this “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry.

The section ends, “[the BLC trust document and that promoted by this ministry] makes the unincorporated church exactly like those churches listed above. It places the church into a Business Trust, like it or not.” This ridiculous assertion is repeated over and over throughout Chapter 18. (See, e.g., Is the ordinary trust a legal entity?)

3Ironically, the ELC method of church organization leaves a church in legal entity status while the methodology of this ministry and that of the BLC leaves a church in spiritual entity only status (a non-legal entity) as long as the church does not compromise her position in some other manner. No BLC church uses a business trust. As this author explains in other articles in this series, the ordinary trust created by the DOT recommended by the BLC and the ordinary Bible trust recommended by this ministry is not a business trust, a charitable trust, or any kind of trust which is a legal entity. The ordinary trust and the ordinary Bible trust are merely relationships with property which cannot sue or be sued or act legally. Neither the ordinary trust nor the ordinary Bible trust is the church and the church is not the ordinary trust or the ordinary Bible trust. When a church places tithes, offerings and gifts into the estate of an ordinary trust or an ordinary Bible trust, the church does not give up her non-legal entity status by so doing because the church holds or owns no property – the equitable, beneficial and true owner of the trust estate (the money and property held by the trust) is the Lord Jesus Christ.

The ordinary trust and the ordinary Bible trust differ from the trust arrangement recommended by the ELC in that under the ELC methodology, the “property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner,” and “the church by the Pastor, can execute a deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Only a legal entity can hold property. An ELC church holds property in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and beneficial owner of the property. An ELC church is therefore a legal entity, a business trust; this conclusion is supported by what the ELC publishes and teaches concerning trust law.

From page 149 of ELC book
From page 149 of ELC book “Approved by God”
From page 150 of
From page 150 of ELC book “Approved by God”

 

Chapter 5: Analysis of “More Exclusivity Statements”

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Chapter 5: Analysis of “More Exclusivity Statements”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 22, 2014

Note. This is a continuation of the examination of Chapter 18 of Approved by God written by Ben Townsend of the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”). This article looks at the fourth section of that chapter “More Exclusivity Statements.”

This ELC section is no argument at all, but pretends an argument. It is much ado about nothing, a feeble attempt to misdirect.

In the section entitled “More Exclusivity Statements” Ben Townsend of the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) complains, and only the Lord knows why:

“The entire portion of two [Biblical Law Center (“BLC”)] bulletins make the belabored point that ‘We have it, but we can’t give it to them!’ It is almost as if those forty churches ‘across the nation’ have something no one else can have because they are Baptists.”

This author empathizes with those who follow the ELC recommendations as to church organization. He feels sorrow in the Lord for the ELC leaders who make unlearned attempts to discredit the BLC while not recognizing the serious flaws in ELC methods for church organization. Only through serious study can one immersed in ELC teaching begin to understand this.

How is it the business of the ELC to complain about the fact that the BLC will not help some churches? Nonetheless, the ELC raised the question, so this article will look at their infantile argument. Two points will be made. First, when this author was lead counsel for the BLC, the BLC tried to help every church who met basic Baptist criteria for a New Testament church. It became obvious that the Declaration of Trust and ordinary trust utilized by the BLC could not be adapted to certain theologies. Not only legal but also biblical principles are incorporated into the DOT and the ordinary trust utilized by BLC churches. Where possible, the BLC offered suggestions to churches whose theologies were not compatible with the BLC suggested methodology. Neither the BLC nor the “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry” is a buffet line with something for everyone; the goal of each is to Glorify God, not to make money, especially at the expense of compromise of biblical principles.

Second, any church is free to go to the law books and research the concepts of the ordinary trust and the legal principles for drafting a properly worded DOT which comports with the theology of that church. Neither this ministry nor the BLC wishes to spend its time researching other theologies and developing a system for those churches to remain out from under civil government control. Both ministries have studied in depth what the King James Bible teaches concerning the relevant doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. Neither ministry believes that the doctrines of some non-Baptist and some Baptist churches comply with New Testament doctrine. In fact, the traditional doctrines of any “Protestant” church and all Catholic “churches” would combine church and state. Even should a version of Protestantism reject their historic position which supports union of church and state (I know of none who have, but have not researched this in depth). For the most part, protestant churches remain true to tradition and are incompatible with the historical Baptist and biblical concept of “separation of church and state.” (See Is Separation or Church and State Found in the Constitution? as a starting point for more on this issue.).

As a sidenote, contrary to ELC misinformation, there are now many more than forty churches utilizing the DOT and the ordinary trust thereby created.

The ELC article then says:

“This Business Trust Instrument is used far and wide by nearly every type of organization on the face of the earth.” [Then, the article lists some organizations that use the “business trust instrument.”]. That listing ends the section.

No BLC church uses a business trust. As this author explains in other articles in this series, the ordinary trust created by the DOT recommended by the BLC and the ordinary Bible trust recommended by this “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry is not a business trust, a charitable trust, or any kind of trust which is a legal entity. The ordinary trust is merely a relationship with property which cannot sue or be sued or act legally. The ordinary trust is not the church and the church is not the ordinary trust. When a church places tithes, offerings and gifts into the estate of an ordinary trust, the church does not give up her non-legal entity status by so doing because the church holds or owns no property. Remember, as pointed out in various places in this booklet that the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the trust estate is the Lord Jesus Christ, not the church and not the trustee.

This type of declared trust differs from the trust arrangement recommended by the ELC in that under the ELC methodology, the “property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner,” and “the church by the Pastor, can execute a deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Only a legal entity can hold property. A church places tithes, offerings, and gifts into an ordinary trust, the type trust used by the BLC and by this SCSLM. On the other hand, an ELC church holds property in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, the true and beneficial owner of the property. In other words, one who understands these matters can see that an ELC church is a legal enitity, thereby defeating the ELC argument that the ELC church is under the Lord Jesus Christ only. The church who uses an ordinary Bible trust holds or owns nothing.

From page 149 of  ELC book
From page 149 of ELC book “Approved by God”
From page 150 of
From page 150 of “Approved by God”

Chapter 2: Analysis of “The Propagation of the Declaration”

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Chapter 2: Analysis of “The Propagation of the Declaration”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 20, 2014

Note. This is a continuation of the examination of Chapter 18 of Approved by God written by Ben Townsend of the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”), a chapter which attacks the ordinary (Bible) trust recommended by the Biblical Law Center (“BLC”) and by this “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry. This article answers questions raised in the first section of that chapter “The Propagation of the Declaration.”

See Comparison of Bible Trust (ordinary (Bible) trust), Incorporation (includes corporation sole), and Ecclesiastical Law Center Trust for a concise chart of the differences each brings to church organization.

Bible sense is preeminent.
Bible sense is preeminent.

When this author became lead counsel for the Biblical Law Center (“BLC”), he began a period of intense study. His main goal was to satisfy himself that he was on solid biblical (first and foremost) grounds. Had he found that the Declaration of Trust (“DOT”) was not correct according to both Bible precept, he would not have continued his position as lead counsel. After 2½ years of intense studies, he concluded not only that the DOT created a trust relationship in line with Bible precept but also was recognized by American law. When he left the BLC in 2011, he and Dr. Greg Dixon were in agreement as to the fact that the DOT created a type of trust (which trust law calls an “ordinary” trust) which describes a relationship with property whereby a trustee (the legal owner) holds the property for the benefit of the true and equitable owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ.

The concept of the ordinary (Bible) trust was not invented in 1986, as the ELC points out in this section. The God-given precept of a trust relationship with money and property was implemented in the church context in 1986 by Attorney Al Cunningham who founded the BLC. This author explains the legal and biblical basis of trust (the ordinary (Bible) trust) in Section VI, Chapter 7 God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Click the link to go to the online version). This author, by necessity of countering long published and continuing ELC attacks against the DOT and the ordinary trust thereby created, is also explaining certain facets of the ordinary (Bible) trust in this series of articles.

Navigating a particular law in the legal system is not as easy as it might seem. Here is a rack with the volumes from AM. JUR. 2D AND AM. JUR. 2D forms. This is only a good starting place to understand the law of trusts.
Navigating a particular law in the legal system is not as easy as it might seem. Here is a rack with the volumes from AM. JUR. 2D AND AM. JUR. 2D forms. This is only a good starting place to understand the law of trusts.

The ELC asks in “The Propagation of the Declaration” section of Chapter 18 of Approved by Man, if the DOT has ever been used by churches, and what entities have used this “magic document.” The DOT used by the BLC has created many ordinary trusts and the trust estates of those trusts include the tithes, offerings, and gifts of many churches. After becoming lead counsel for the BLC, this author met and/or talked with many of the pastors of churches for whom the BLC had already helped establish an ordinary trust. After becoming lead counsel, he met others who came to the BLC for help and who adopted a DOT and put into operation the ordinary trust thereby created.

In 2011 this author stepped down as lead counsel for the BLC and became head of the “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry of Old Paths Baptist Church (SCSLM). Recently, he adopted the appropriate name for the ordinary trust when utilized by churches: the Bible trust. Many churches are now putting tithes, offerings, and gifts into the ordinary (Bible) trust which is recommended by this ministry and the trust recommended by the BLC.

1Contrary to the assertion of the ELC in this section, any law book cannot explain the DOT and the ordinary (Bible) trust thereby created. There are untold thousands of law books covering every area of the law. Most of those never mention trust law. Moreover, every book on trust law cannot explain the DOT which creates the DOT and the ordinary (Bible) trust thereby created. Some law books (or sections thereof) and court cases address various issues concerning charitable trusts, some business trusts, some ordinary trusts, and the use of the DOT to create the particular type of trust being examined. Any competent lawyer or paralegal knows that one must be able isolate the issue(s), court cases and law(s) relevant to the questions at hand. Should a lawyer present to the court irrelevant law, unreliable law, and/or incorrect law, his opponent would make him look like a fool and the judge would declare his arguments facetious. That is the case of common sense as applied to legal disputes. The same discernment cannot be expected of pastors and believers who have not studied trust law; many have relied upon the facetious teachings and aid of the ELC in ordering their affairs. They have done so because they themselves simply have not been called to know it all and many have become easy prey for the ELC.

4Common sense—and more importantly for the believer, biblical sense—should be a rule for all issues, legal or otherwise. The author humbly submits that the judge of the dispute between this ministry and the ELC must use not only common sense, but also biblical sense, in seeking out whom to believe as to these matters. This exchange between the ELC and this ministry is presenting two opposing arguments to those serious readers who will judge this exchange. The ELC challenge, along with personal attacks, pseudo-legal arguments, etc. have been published verbally, online, and in printed publications made available for public consumption for many years. This series of articles is the first public response to those attacks by this, or any other, ministry. For His Glory, this author humbly submits that one should be diligent in his search for truth concerning these most important matters.

After online publication of the first eight chapters of this booklet, Ben Townsend of the ELC partially explained Chapter 18 of Approved by Man – he admitted that he did not know much about trusts in Section 2 of an online response entitled Give and Take (See Chapter 9 and 10 for a response). He also admitted in an article entitled “A Law, Made by Man, Will be Changed” a very important truth which is in direct contradiction to what he has asserted in books and online articles—that the “ordinary trust” is not a legal entity (See Chapter 13). That admission is only partially true since, as explained in other chapters, some types of trusts are legal entities and only the ordinary trust is not. In other words, he admitted that he attacked the BLC, the DOT, and the ordinary trust without knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. He completely discredits all he has published on these matters by his admissions. A study of ELC teaching reveals that the ELC method of church organization is confused, unlearned, and ill-advised. The ELC system results in churches who are legal entities which are subject to and have been involved in the legal system.

Chapter 7: Analysis of “Has it ever been tested in court?”

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Chapter 7: Analysis of “Has it ever been tested in court?”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 15, 2014

Note. This is a continuation of the examination of a chapter of an Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) Publication, Chapter 18 of Approved by God. This article looks at the sixth section of that chapter.

The sixth section of chapter 18 asks a question which, in and of itself, is very puzzling to the person studied in the law of the ordinary trusts. The question is, “Has it ever been tested in Court?” What is the “it” being referred to and what does “tested in court” mean?

Thank you, ELC, for waking up our brain cells.
Thank you, ELC, for waking up our brain cells.

Obviously, from the ELC point of view in the context of Chapter 18 and other ELC writings:

  1. “It” refers to “trust;” and, specifically, the ordinary Bible trust utilized by the “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry and the ordinary trust used by the BLC. If the word “trust” or “Declaration of Trust” is mentioned in a court case, anything else in the case is not significant to the Ecclesiastical Law Center. The mere fact that one or both of those words were mentioned in the reported case or the alleged case means that the ordinary trust has been tested in court. It matters not to the ELC should the courts have said, as in the following cases (not cited by the ELC, of course) involving ordinary trusts:
    (a) A trust is not a legal entity. (Stevens Family Trust v. Huthsing, 81 S.W.3d 664 (Mo. Ct. App. S.D. 2002), reh’g and/or transfer denied, (July 12, 2002)).
    (b) A trust is not an entity distinct from its trustees and capable of legal action on its own behalf, but merely a fiduciary relationship with respect to property. (Roberts v. Lomanto, 112 Cal. App. 4th 1553, 5 Cal. Rptr. 3d 866 (3d Dist. 2003), review denied, (Feb. 24, 2004).
    (c) A trust is not a legal “person” which can own property or enter into contracts, rather, a trust is a relationship having certain characteristics. (Dennett v. Kuenzli, 130 Idaho 21, 936 P.2d 219 (Ct. App. 1997).
  2. The ELC will only cite and consider, when attacking the BLC and the ordinary trust, cases which involve legal entity types of trusts (such as business trusts and charitable trusts) so that they can make the assertion that “it has been tested” in court.
  3. As shown below, the cases they cite prove nothing concerning the ordinary trust and  the issue of whether “it has been tested in court,” nor do the cases give any insight as to what the ELC means by “tested in court.”

This author was asked, at the 2011 Unregistered Baptist Fellowship” conference in Indianapolis, Indiana the same question, “Has it ever been tested in court?” and he has heard the question on numerous other occasions. At the time, he suspected that the questioner was affiliated with the ELC. He thought that the reference was to the ordinary trust into which BLC churches place their tithes, offerings, and gifts and the DOT which created that trust; and he further thought that by “tested in court” was meant, “Has the court disregarded the DOT and the trust thereby created and attempted to bring the church into court as a legal entity anyway?” As to the question in the last sentence, the author’s reply is:  In several cases the author knows of since beginning to work with the BLC, the court knew that the church was not a legal entity which was subject to court jurisdiction. In one case the prosecutor, in a zoning dispute initiated by the government, acknowledged that church was not a legal entity (the church put tithes, offerings, and gifts into a trust); therefore, the church could not be brought into court. In another such case involving an Indianapolis church which adopted the BLC recommended DOT and ordinary trust thereby created, the church members placed tithes, offerings, and gifts into the trust thereby created. The government challenged the zoning status of the meetinghouse. The DOT had nothing to do with the case and the government recognized that the church was not a legal entity; therefore, the court could not bring the church into the controversy. The case ended in victory and the use of the real estate for a meeting house was upheld.

Of course, the church which places tithes, offerings, and gifts into an ordinary trust for the benefit of the true, equitable, beneficial owner of the money/property is clearly not a legal entity. That is what the law says and that corresponds to reality. The church has to entrust someone with tithes, offerings, and gifts which are given to the Lord Jesus Christ. The person so entrusted is, by definition, a trustee and the true owner is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ. Reality, biblical principle, and American law agree on this matter.

jurisdictionContrary to the assertions of the ELC, civil courts may assume jurisdiction over people and land (no matter how the land is held) when a proper suit within the jurisdictional boundaries of the court is initiated. Believers and others in America have been blessed. Christians and churches have the protections of the First Amendment which were won by the persecutions and sacrifices of our historical Baptist forefathers; the First Amendment protects the citizen in his exercise of religion, assembly, press, speech, and his right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. American civil government does not tax land being used for “religious purposes.” However, believers and churches in many countries – such as Korea, China, many Muslim countries, and many other nations – are not so fortunate. In many nations, if one is found with a tract, speaking positively of the name of Jesus, possessing a Bible, etc., either the government or the local religious mob will send him home to be with the Lord. No land or buildings will be allowed for meeting by Christians. If it is tried, they will be confiscated and/or destroyed.

The guaranteed fate of church meetinghouses in some nations.
The guaranteed fate of church meetinghouses in some nations.

Even in America, ultimately legal differences concerning land use, taxation, and ownership, if brought to the attention of the appropriate agency/court, will be decided by the agency/court. For example, should an ELC church or any other church come together as a church body at a meetinghouse in an area not zoned for religious use, the court will assume jurisdiction of the issue if and when it comes to their attention, no matter the church’s legal status. There are other possible issues concerning real estate which could result in either/or government agency or court action, but not against a non-legal entity church. The ELC admits the latter; they ask “What happens if there is a lawsuit?” (Robin Wright and Ben Townsend, Approved by God, A Case for Modern Disestablishment (Mesick, Michigan: Adorn Books, 2004), p. 150.) Their answer:

Lawsuit“There are no lawsuits. Lawsuits are leveled against legal entities, not spiritual ones. Lacking a legal organization (corporation, unincorporated association) to attack, lawsuits must ultimately prevail. There are several court cases to prove the point. Besides, it would be tough to get legal service on the owner.” (Ibid.)

Their answer is partially right and partly wrong. They are right in saying that a non-legal entity cannot be a party to a suit; but, if a piece of real estate is the center of a zoning issue, for example, the agency/court will petition the legal owner of the property. Of course, the agency/court cannot petition the Lord Jesus Christ, who under both the ELC method and ordinary trust method, is the true, equitable, or beneficial owner. If there is no legal owner of the property, the agency/court will take the necessary legal steps to take control of the property.

If there is a legal owner, the court will summon the legal owner. The ELC states:

“How can property be held to reflect the ownership of Christ over His Church? It must be held as an individual, and that individual must be the Lord Jesus Christ! The property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner.  In spite of the skepticism of many, churches in 22 states have placed their property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without incident.” (Ibid. 149). Actually, the church, by the Pastor, can execute a deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ibid. 150).

If the government challenged the use of a meetinghouse for religious purposes because the property was not zoned for religious use, and the church using the meetinghouse were organized according to the recommendations of the ELC, the government would not attempt to subpoena the true owner, in this case the Lord Jesus Christ. The government would petition the person who executed the deed, the pastor; the pastor, by definition, would be deemed to be the trustee holding legal title to the property. This is where the ELC method could result in the church being declared a legal entity since the ELC declares that “the church, by the Pastor, can execute a deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Ibid.). As has been explained in other articles, should a government lawyer know what he is doing, he could point out that the church is a legal entity and argue that the church could be brought into the suit as the true owner for whom the pastor was only acting as trustee. The reasoning the government attorney could use:

“Only a legal entity can execute a deed and only a legal entity can hold property. The church has admitted by ELC declaration, the church being an ELC church, that ‘the church can execute a deed’ and that the property should be held by the church in trust…. Since the church admittedly executed the deed (through the pastor), the church is a legal entity.”

A properly worded Declaration of Trust which establishes an ordinary trust into which a church places tithes, offerings, and gifts makes clear that the church has no property and that the church has no interest in the money/property being placed into the trust estate and that the trust estate belongs only to the true and equitable owner, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be used for His benefit.

The ELC church could try to maintain their position that the government has no jurisdiction. The ELC might recommend that no one appear to admit jurisdiction or that someone, perhaps the trustee, make a special appearance to challenge jurisdiction only.

To begin such a case, the appropriate agency (many actions start in government agency with provisions for appeal into court should the final agency decision be contested) the agency or court would have to serve some legal entity. Every citizen of this country in his right mind is a legal entity.

Should they serve the pastor and he not appear, the agency or court would probably decide the issue (in court by a default judgment). Should they serve the church and an authorized representative of the church not appear, the result would be the same. Should the church appear and assert that she was not a legal entity, the agency/court would need proof that the church was not a legal entity. The government attorney, if he was familiar with the issue and ELC teachings, could argue that the church, by the ELC’s own admission and declaration is a legal entity such as a business trust or charitable trust.

Should a church appear and lose the jurisdictional issue, what would the next step be? The church would have already admitted that the court had jurisdiction over the jurisdictional issue by making an appearance. The court would probably and correctly rule that the church was a legal entity. Therefore, disregarding the court decision on that issue would be futile and non-appearance thereafter would probably result in a default judgment.

Approved by Man, p. 180
Approved by Man, p. 180

The first paragraph of the ELC article begins:

“It has been repeatedly reported by the BLC that the Declaration of Trust (‘DOT’) has never been tested in court. However, the DOT was filed and tested in the Indianapolis Baptist Temple case. And it did not succeed in protecting that church entity. To further reveal the blindness of those who propagate this document, it has been tested time and time again in every court jurisdiction over the last two hundred years. It is a document that courts recognize as a Trust agreement on which it can have jurisdiction and decide cases. If anything, this document in the IBT case could have been used by the court to prove they had jurisdiction over IBT.”

Approved by Man, p. 181
Approved by Man, p. 181

That whole first paragraph is a total distortion of what happened in the IBT (“Indianapolis Baptist Temple”) case. To fully and rationally explain all that happened in that case would require a lot of time and explanation. Suffice it to say for now and for purposes of the analysis of this section of Chapter 18 that the ELC effectively concedes in the last sentence of the above quoted paragraph that the court did not use the IBT trust document to prove they had jurisdiction over IBT. This author will offer the following true statement: the court did not (which, as pointed out, the ELC concedes in the paragraph above) and could not have used the trust document to prove they had jurisdiction over IBT.

IBT has continued since the court case was settled and the government confiscated the property. IBT has operated under a DOT since and has not been summoned into court or agency proceeding. The property tax exemption allowed the property owner who leases the property in which IBT meets (not IBT) still gets a property tax exemption on the property since the property is used for religious purposes, even though the local property tax board has contested the exemption more than once. Of course, IBT was not summoned or subpoenaed since IBT is not a legal entity.

The section “Has it ever been tested in court” then briefly mentions three cases with brief comments. The three cited cases, the ELC comments, and the ELC “reasoning” (a term loosely used here), are examined below. The first case mentioned is Tort Claimants Committee vs. Roman Catholic Archbishop. There is no citation to that case, but the author of the chapter states that the case is a “July 2006 case in Portland.” Then they state that “the court decided the following about a Declaration of Trust:

“Determining whether the Declaration of Trust created a valid, enforceable charitable trust requires interpretation of the Declaration of Trust. Under Oregon law, “[t]he same rule of construction applies in the interpretation of an instrument creating a trust as controls in construing any other document, to wit, that the intention of the maker of the instrument must, if possible, be determined and given effect.”

I did a Westlaw search of Oregon courts of appeal, Oregon Supreme Court, and United States Tax Court using the case name given in the article as well as the name of each party. I found no such name. If there is indeed such a case, any reliable writer would have included the citation so that the case could be easily found. The authors did give the citations for the next two cases, and I easily found and read them. (See below). I can therefore only analyze what is written in the first article about the alleged case, Tort Claimants Committee vs. Roman Catholic Archbishop.

On its face, it is not on point, even though the statement quoted is valid. It applies to a charitable trust, not an ordinary trust and the Declaration of Trust which created it.

The second case mentioned is “Church of Scientology vs. Commissioner, 83 TC 381. All the ELC says about this case in their article is: “the court found five Scientology groups were using a Declaration of Trust to channel ‘Tithe’ money into bank accounts overseas.”

I pulled that case up on Westlaw and examined it. (See En 1 for a summary of the case.). The case is not on point for many reasons besides the main point relevant to this this article: the trust involved was a charitable trust. I include a summary of the 105 single spaced on 8 ½ x 11 inch page case in En 1.  One can go to the law library read the case to verify the truth of this author’s assertions.

These were two of the eighteen issues in the case, the only two issues involving “charitable trust”:

11) Does the application of common law charitable trust doctrine to churches, requiring their conformity to fundamental public policy standards evidenced by criminal or civil statutes, violate the free exercise clause of the First Amendment because there are less restrictive ways of regulating church-sponsored misconduct?
12) Does the retroactive application of public policy standards derived from the common law of charitable trusts to petitioner’s operations deprive petitioner of due process of law in violation of the Fifth Amendment? Church of Scientology vs. Commissioner, 83 TC 381, 384 (1984).

Again, a charitable trust is a legal entity. An ordinary trust is not. Nothing in this case is relevant to the ordinary trust or the ordinary Bible trust and the churches who place their tithes, offerings, and gifts into such a trust. Read the summary in En 1 (or the case) to verify this.

The final case cited by the ELC in this section is Presbytery of Indianapolis vs. First United Presbyterian Church, 143 Indiana Appellate 72.

“The Appellate Court, Bierly, J., held that decision of authorized judicatory of hierarchial church denying petition of local congregation for leave to withdraw and take with it certain property was binding on state courts, notwithstanding that title may have been in corporation as grantee; use and occupancy of local church was matter of ecclesiastical government which could not constitutionally be impaired by any state legislation nor by any action by state judiciary. Reversed.” (Presbytery of Indianapolis vs. First United Presbyterian Church, 143 Ind. App. 72 (1968)).

As to the factual conclusions, the court said:

“This property appears to have been purchased * * * in the ordinary way of business, * * * and conveyed to the trustees by a general warranty deed, without condition of limitation. It is entirely clear that no trust, express or implied, is attached to the title. Appellants (plaintiffs) at no time had any interest in the property except as members of a congregation which was an integral part of the ecclesiastical society known as the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. Our only duty is to determine the identity of the ecclesiastical successor of the original grantee. This we have seen has been determined for us, since the union of the Cumberland Church (which was incorporated and acquired the property as a corporation before combining with the Presbyterian Church) with the Presbyterian Church carried into the United body all its property. The validity of that union appellants cannot question, and in it they must acquiese or defy the decrees of the church to which they pledged allegiance. Consciences cannot be bound, and if in the assertion of individual opinion and conscientious dictates appellants segregate themselves from the body of the church, they must depart as they came in—empty-handed. The court did not err in overruling appellants’ motion for a new trial.” Ibid. 83-84.

The ELC quotes in their short article the following from pages 85-86 of the opinion: “The appellee church received aid through the years from the United Presbyterian Church of North America in a total sum of $45,436.31, which has never been repaid; the appellee never executed a resolution and Declaration of Trust as required by the General Assembly of the Church of North America.”

Thus, the ELC saw those words, “Declaration of Trust” and “trust,” in this case, left out the “charitable” before “trust,” included one quote out of context which contained those words, and never gave any explanation as to why that phrase in this case showed that “it has been tested in court.”

By the way, neither this “Separation of Church and State Law Ministry” nor the BLC will help a Presbyterian Church to establish an ordinary trust. It is impossible to help a Presbyterian church because the ordinary trust is as recommended by these ministries is not compatible with Presbyterian theology.

Now to the final paragraph of the section of the ELC article, “Has it ever been tested in court”:

“Many pages of the book could be filled with cases similar to the ones above. This Declaration of Trust is not a secret modern way for unincorporated churches to hold property. It is a way for the pastor to become the sole legal Trustee of all the church assets.”

Yes, should someone use the ELC method of legal research and analysis, many cases (probable thousands) similar to the cases above could be cited which have absolutely nothing to do with anything relevant to the ordinary trust and the DOT recommended by the BLC or this ministry and any rationale definition of “has it ever been tested in court?” If relevance is not to be considered, all one need do to find such cases as cited by the ELC is a Westlaw or LexisNexis search for cases which contain the word “trust” and/or “Declaration of Trust” select a few such cases and cite perhaps a sentence or two from each selected case which contain the  “trust” or “Declaration of Trust,” and/or make some nonsensical comment.

A New Testament church who puts tithes, offerings, and gifts into an ordinary trust should be careful not to do anything which makes them a legal entity: open bank account, contract, etc.
A New Testament church who puts tithes, offerings, and gifts into an ordinary trust should be careful not to do anything which makes them a legal entity: open bank account, contract, etc.

The ELC is right about the DOT when they say it is not secret and it is not modern. It has been around for hundreds of years. The concept was established by God. As to the last sentence of the ELC quote above, the ordinary Bible trust created by the DOT recommended by this author and the ordinary trust recommended by the BLC is not a way for the pastor to become the sole legal Trustee of all the church assets. When a properly worded DOT creates an ordinary trust into which a church places tithes, offerings, and gifts given to God in trust for the benefit of the true owner of the property to be administered by the trustee who has a fiduciary duty under God to use all the trust estate for God, the church remains a non-legal entity which cannot sue, be sued, contract, go into debt or act legally in any way; such a church, under the ordinary trust recommended by the “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry, has no physical assets; all the assets of such a church are spiritual. Note: Should such a church act legally (open a bank account, get insurance, etc.), the church becomes a legal entity in spite of the fact of the ordinary trust or DOT. Read the online PDF of Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking to Organize According to New Testament Principles for nutshell information on pitfalls for the church which utilizes the ordinary trust.

Note that a church which places tithes, offerings, and gifts in an ordinary trust estate gives to God. The church does the giving and – unlike gifts to a corporate church, a business trust church, or a charitable trust church, which are given to the corporation the business trust, or the charitable trust – the giving is to God.

None of the cases cited by the ELC make any point at all concerning the DOT and the ordinary trust created thereby; they support nothing the ELC is trying to argue. Truly, this whole ELC section is total nonsense and will serve to convince only those who are unknowledgeable concerning these matters. Most of the good folks who follow the ELC teachers never will have the time to do the studies necessary to examine ELC writing and teaching and therefore are easy prey to outright fallacies. The real tragedy is that good, well-meaning, born-again pastors and believers have followed these teachings, some for many years.

Endnote

Summary of Church of Scientology vs. Commissioner, 83 TC 381, 384 (1984):

Petitioner, a Church incorporated in the State of California, was granted tax-exempt status in 1957 under sec. 501(c)(3), I.R.C. 1954. In 1967 respondent sent petitioner a letter revoking its exemption following audit of petitioner’s records which was in part sparked by litigation involving the tax-exempt status of an affiliated Church of Scientology. Subsequent to issuing the letter of revocation, respondent conducted several audits of petitioner’s records for various tax years and also reviewed the tax status of several affiliated churches. Petitioner was also investigated by several intelligence groups which respondent specially formed during 1969 through 1975 to investigate taxpayers allegedly selected by essentially political criteria. During the period that petitioner’s taxes were under administrative review, petitioner conspired to prevent the IRS from determining and collecting taxes due from petitioner and affiliated churches. Petitioner sold religious services, books, and artifacts according to a fixed fee schedule through its branch churches and franchises. Petitioner’s profits from these sales were not less than $1,494,617.53 in 1970, $881,131.18 in 1971, and $1,707,287.17 in 1972. Petitioner maintained large cash reserves in a sham corporation and in a bogus charitable trust controlled by key church officials including petitioner’s founder. HELD, petitioner was not the victim of selective enforcement of the tax laws since the notice of deficiency was based on valid regulatory considerations. HELD FURTHER, various other asserted constitutional rights of petitioner not violated. HELD FURTHER, petitioner was not operated exclusively for an exempt purpose under sec. 501(c)(3), I.R.C. 1954, since petitioner had a substantial commercial purpose, since its net earnings benefited key Scientology officials, and since it had the illegal purpose of conspiring to impede the IRS from collecting taxes due from petitioner and affiliated churches and thus its activities, dictated at the highest level, violated well-defined public policy.

Open letter to the Houston, Texas City Attorney concerning the subpoenas duces tecum of certain pastors

Jerald Finney
October 16, 2014

Click here to go to sermonaudio teaching “Texas Pastors getting ‘Sermon Protection Act’-Do We Need It?” 

Authority, The Greatest Thing In The Universe,” Dr. Greg Dixon 2005. This sermon explains the importance of authority and power and correct doctrine. It explains how great men of God can proceed according to some false doctrine and the consequences. For example, John and Charles Wesleys’ teachings led to the tongues movement and all its modern derivatives and adnerents such as TD Jakes, Joycd Meyers, Kenneth Hagan, etc.

Mainstream “Christians” are up in arms about some subpoenas duces tecum to certain pastors issued by the city of Houston. The story as it has unfolded to this point, 1:27 p.m. October 16, 2014, is reported in the following articles:

Mayor, city attorney distance themselves from sermon subpoenas: http://www.chron.com/news/politics/houston/article/Parker-calls-ERO-sermon-supboeana-overly-broad-5824816.php

Houston mayor, city attorney: On second thought, maybe those subpoenas were a wee bit broad: http://hotair.com/archives/2014/10/16/houston-mayor-city-attorney-on-second-thought-maybe-those-subpoenas-were-a-wee-bit-broad/

Houston Mayor backs off subpoenas to pastors: http://www.breitbart.com/Breitbart-Texas/2014/10/15/BREAKING-Houston-Mayor-Backs-Off-From-Subpoenas-to-Pastors

City of Houston demands pastors turn over sermons: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/14/city-houston-demands-pastors-turn-over-sermons/

This believer is dismayed with the unlearned positions of the Christian representatives as reported in the news. Of course, news media is not always reliable. This author wishes to set the record straight as to some of the incorrect “Christian” positions involved in this controversy. The following is an open letter which was just e-mailed to David Feldman, the Houston, Texas city attorney.

Jerald c. Finney

Attorney at Law
P.O. Box 1346
Austin, Texas 78767
Phone: (512)385-0761
Fax: (512)385-0761
E-mail: jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net

11/15/2014

City of Houston Legal Department
P.O. Box 368
Houston, TX 77001-0368

ATTN: City Attorney David Feldman

RE:  False assertions by Christian leader in the matter concerning subpoena (and subpoena duces tecum) controversy.

Dear Mr. Feldman:

As an attorney who has practiced church and state law since 2005, I am very concerned about the false alleged representations of Tony Perkins (as reported in the news). I am a Christian and I find it very vexing to look at the incorrect assertions of other “Christians” in controversies between church and state. It is time that the truth be brought out when the relationship between church and state in the United States comes to the forefront.

I understand that one cannot depend upon news sources for the truth. I wish to address what Tony Perkins is reported to have said (the source is http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/14/city-houston-demands-pastors-turn-over-sermons/). The linked article states that Perkins said:

“Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council, said pastors around the nation should rally around the Houston ministers.

“‘The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state,” Perkins told me. ‘Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.’

“Perkins called the actions by Houston’s mayor ‘obscene’ and said they ‘should not be tolerated.’

“‘This is a shot across the bow of the church,’ he said.

“This is the moment I wrote about in my book, ‘God Less America.’ I predicted that the government would one day try to silence American pastors. I warned that under the guise of ‘tolerance and diversity’ elected officials would attempt to deconstruct religious liberty.

“Sadly, that day arrived sooner than even I expected.”

I take issue with Perkins on several counts and advise pastors that they should not rally around the Houston “ministers,” unless those Houston ministers and their representatives as well as the pastors who would rally around them repent of their lack of knowledge, embrace knowledge, and then proceed accordingly.

My first contention is that the state is not necessarily “breaching the wall of separation of church and state.” Whether the subpoenas were overbroad is a totally legal matter. However, if a church involved is a legal entity such as an incorporated Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) religious organization, that church has already combined with the state thereby rejecting the Biblical, First Amendment, and corresponding state constitutional principle of “separation of church and state.” I explain these matters in much detail in God’s Churches/Spiritual or Legal Entities (a fairly short work which explains church incorporation and Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) status), and also in the much more comprehensive book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. I also maintain a website on which all my articles, audio teachings, and books are available free. I will just briefly explain some of the intricacies of these matters in these letters. For more details, refer to the resource list at the end of this letter.

Perkins complains that the state is breaching the wall between church and state. How can he make such a complaint when incorporated 501c3 churches have already given up much or their protections under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional protections? They have gone to the state for legal status and certain perceived protections. They have decided to become legal entities and agreed to the terms of that new status. They have rejected their status as New Testament churches under the headship of the Lord Jesus Christ only.

By contracting with the state through incorporation, churches supposedly gain certain “protections” while giving up certain constitutional rights. While a corporate church must “obey the laws of its creation,” it also has constitutionally protected rights which are quite different and less effective than the rights she had while a spiritual entity protected by God, and the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions. A church which is not satisfied with God’s liberty, provisions, and protections (protection of which is guaranteed by the First Amendment) seeks incorporation.  Incorporating a church alters the legal status of that church.

Incorporation places the church partially under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution as a “artificial person.” Such an artificial person is a legal fiction or a creature of statute.

  • Civil law makes clear that the sovereign of the corporation is the state.
  • The civil law of incorporation excludes God entirely as regards certain matters controlled by the contracts created by incorporation. A court will not consider biblical principles in a matter involving a contract dispute out of an incorporated “church.” The court will only look at secular laws and cases. Of course, courts have declined involvement with “ecclesiastical” matters. The court will decide what is ecclesiastical and what is not.
  • Incorporation creates several contractual relationships. Contracts are between the state and the corporation, between the corporation and its members, between the members themselves, and between the members and the state.

Most incorporated churches also seek and obtain Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)(“501c3”) or Section 508) status. Such status further compromises the constitutional and and Biblical status of churches. Both 501(c)(3) and 508 status subjects churches to five rules:

 “1. must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,

“2. net earnings must not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,

“3. no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,

“4. the organization may not intervene in political activity,

“5. the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”

 Obviously, 501(c)(3) is federal law whereas incorporation is state law. However, one must review the state laws of incorporation to understand the relationship of 501(c)(3) status with state law. At the very least, a church which violates (a) 501(c)(3) rule(s) can be audited by the Internal Revenue Service with the option of appeal to federal court from agency determinations. Furthermore, it seems that by obtaining 501(c)(3) status a church has admitted that those matters which are implicated by the 501(c)(3) rules are not ecclesiastical and that infringements of those rules are subject to court action.

I get into these matters much more thoroughly in the resources mentioned above and linked to below.

The point is that these churches have voluntarily given up much of their state and federal constitutional protections and are subject to court action as to certain matters. They are willing parties to the contracts and rules created by incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. They have agreed that the state, through its courts, is the controlling party and that they will abide by the decisions of those courts. When an action is initiated in court, all constitutional and statutory rules and procedures apply. An action may be attacked using every legal maneuver provided for. In the matter at hand, incorporated 501(c)(3) churches may not maintain that they have all their First Amendment rights since they now fall under the Fourteenth Amendment as to non-ecclesiastical matters. The court, being the controlling party, as stated above, decides what is ecclesiastical and what is not. Again, 501(c)(3) churches have, in return for what they perceive to be benefits from the federal government, conceded that certain matters are not ecclesiastical.

By willingly (or ignorantly) becoming legal entities, these churches have denounced the Biblical principle of separation of church and state and placed themselves partially under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Ironically, sometimes such churches argue that separation of church and state is not in the constitution and at other times they argue that the state is breaching the wall between church and state. They also sometimes make the false argument that the wall between church and state is only meant to keep the state out of church affairs and not the church out of state affairs, even though most such churches have corporate 501(c)(3) status and have agreed to the accompanying laws and rules.

 Yours most sincerely,

Jerald C. Finney

Jcf

P.S. Following are links to the free online and PDF forms of books and other works by Jerald Finney.

All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed)(Free: PDFonline form) may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney or directly from Amazon by going to the following links:

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only)(PDFonline form);
  2. The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only from Amazon.com; see Order information for books by Jerald Finney to order directly from Kerygma Publishing Co.)(PDFonline form) ;
  3. Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble (PDFonline form)
  4. An Abridged History of the First Amendment is available in online and  PDF form only.
  5. Tract on the legality of street preaching is available in PDF only.
  6. “Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking to Organize According to the Principles of the New Testament” is available in PDF only.
  7. Miscellaneous articles by Jerald Finney.
  8. Links to some of Jerald Finney’s writings on legal issues.

Click here to see for updated list of Finney’s books. This Endnote is complete up to August 1, 2014.

The following links are to the PDF versions of books, booklets, and pamphlets by Jerald Finney

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application

Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?

Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses

The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls

An Abridged History of the First Amendment

Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking To Organize According To New Testament Guidelines

Tract: “Street Preaching In America: Is It Legal?”

Chapter 3: Analysis of “Why such a strong stand against the Declaration of Trust?”

Contents of the Booklet

Related articles:

Chapter 3: Analysis of “Why such a strong stand against the Declaration of Trust?”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 13, 2014

Note. This is a continuation of the examination of Chapter 18 of Approved by God, a chapter which attacks the ordinary (Bible) trust, written by Ben Townsend of the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”). This article looks at the second section of that chapter.

Navigating a particular law in the legal system is not as easy as it might seem. Here is a rack with the volumes from AM. JUR. 2D AND AM. JUR. 2D forms. This is only a good starting place to understand the law of trusts.
Navigating a particular law in the legal system is not as easy as it might seem. Here is a rack with the volumes from AM. JUR. 2D AND AM. JUR. 2D forms. This is only a good starting place to understand the law of trusts.

The ELC begins this section by stating that that the “Declaration of Trust” (“DOT”) is a trust document. That is true. The DOT is a document which creates a trust. They are not right about their strong stand against the DOT based upon that fact. As shown below, it is ironical that the ELC has declared that the method they use establishes a type of trust. See Analysis of “The Questions will keep coming,” the last section of Chapter 18 of Approved by Man; that is, the ELC has declared a trust for those using their methods, but their trust must be a business trust or some other kind of trust because they quote from the laws dealing with various kinds of trust, but never from trust law covering the ordinary trust such as 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts. They exemplify this in the very section being analyzed in this chapter.

The ELC never quotes from this volume when attacking the ordinary trust, and this is the volume that explains the ordinary trust.
The ELC never quotes from this volume when attacking the ordinary trust, and this is the volume that explains the ordinary trust.

They quote nothing from 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts which explains the law of ordinary trusts. Rather, they quote for 13 AM. JUR. 2D Business Trusts. There are considerable differences between an ordinary trust and a business trust, some of which are explained in Is the Ordinary Trust a Legal Entity? Again, there are various kinds of trusts. Some are legal entities. Business trusts and charitable trusts, for example, are legal entities. The ordinary (Bible) trust is not.

Honest research requires finding the right law.
Honest research requires finding the right law.

To repeat a very important fact, the ELC has a Declaration of Trust. It is in print. This will be shown below by quoting word for word from their own published books. You can look at their declaration and their source definitions and see if this is the truth about this matter or not. The type trust they recommend (without realizing it) must make a church who utilizes their method a legal entity. That means that, as a legal entity, that church is partially under another head other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, as long as no one makes an issue of it, the church so organized may continue without interference. In the meantime, only the Lord Jesus Christ is grieved because His church has unknowingly submitted herself to civil government.

Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.
Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.

The following quote is from Section VI, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, pages 351-352:

  • “It is impossible for a New Testament Church to remain a New Testament church if that church chooses to do one thing which may result in legal subjection to the civil government. In other words, when a New Testament church does anything contrary to Scripture which gives even partial claim of sovereignty over that church to the state, that church has committed a wicked act which subjects her to another head, thereby greatly displeasing the Lord. That church has betrayed the Lord.
  • “Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means: “Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations.” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th 1990), definition of “legal entity.”)
  • “Corporations are legal entities. On the other hand, a pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. Such a trust relationship cannot sue or be sued. ‘Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with a trust. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.’ 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts 247 (2007). Personal property includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise, etc., (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of ‘Property.’) ” [Bold emphasis mine.]

For many reasons, a church placing tithes, offerings, gifts, and properties in an ordinary trust (which is a non-legal entity) – as opposed to placing tithes, offerings, gifts, and properties into a legal entity such as a corporation, a business trust, charitable trust, or any other legal entity – is the perfect biblical way to do so. Remember, as pointed out in various places in this booklet, that the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the trust estate of the ordinary trust utilized by the BLC and by the SCSLM is the Lord Jesus Christ, not the church and not the trustee. The Endnote below links to the entirety of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; that chapter explains the Declaration of Trust and the ordinary trust, and compares incorporation with the ordinary (Bible) trust and proves that they are entirely different. It explains in detail exactly what each is.

The ELC in the section being analyzed, “Why such a strong stand against the Declaration of Trust?” starts with the statement, “This is simple. It is a ‘Trust’” etc. In other words, the ELC is stating that they take such a strong stand against the DOT because it is a trust. They then give the definitions of “Declaration of Trust” from a hodgepodge of sources:

(1) LegalCentral.com:

 “A Declaration of Trust (sometimes called a Bare Trust) is one of many types of Trusts available… A Declaration of Trust is a legal structure that allows the division of the beneficial and legal ownership. The person holding the asset for your benefit is the Trustee. The Trustee has legal ownership only. You are the beneficiary. You have beneficial ownership. Provided you are 18 years of age and of sound mind you boss the Trustee around. You tell the Trustee what to do with your asset.” (The comments of the author: This quote deserves the trashcan. A DOT is not a trust. It is the instrument that creates a trust. The statement has some truth and a lot of garbage. Anyone with any legal knowledge of trust law can only laugh at this statement.)

(2) Thompson-Gale Legal Encyclopedia:

“An Assertion by a property owner that he or she holds the property or estate for the benefit of another person, or for particular designated objectives.” (Comment: Another useless statement.)

(3) Barron’s Real Estate Terms:

“A written statement by a Trustee to acknowledge that the property is held for the benefit of another.” Then Barron’s gives an example which says: “A Declaration of Trust was signed by a Trustee to state that certain valuable land was being held in Trust for certain orphaned children.” (Comment: Another statement grabbed out of context that has no definitive value to the invalid point the ELC  is trying to make.)

(4) Wikipedia:

“In Trust Law, a settler who declares that he holds certain property on trust is said to make a ‘Declaration of Trust.’”

The ELC quotes here from 13 AM. JUR. 2D Business Trusts. That is the wrong volume to research the ordinary trust.
The ELC quotes here from 13 AM. JUR. 2D Business Trusts. That is the wrong volume to research the ordinary trust.

(5) . “American Jurisprudence 2d explains this Declaration of Trust under Business Trusts, 13 Am.Jur2d, section 1:

“A business trust is formed under, or on the basis of, an instrument or declaration of trust, which must conform to statutory and other requirements relating to trusts. No special form need be followed in creating a Massachusetts or business trust. It is even possible to create such a trust without the use of the word ‘trust’ or ‘trustee,’ where the intention to do so appears from the instrument as a whole. The trust instrument should, however, embody all the elements necessary to constitute a business trust. There should be an unequivocal declaration of trust, a vesting of title in named trustees, a description of the character of the business to be carried on, an outline of the powers and duties of the trustees, provisions for the tenure and election of trustees and for the issuance of certificates of beneficial interest and the transfer thereof, with a statement of the rights of shareholders with respect too profits and dividends. If desired , there may be provisions fixing the term and duration of the trust and limitting or negativing the liability of shareholders and trustees to third persons. The members and trustees are entitled to have the trust instrument applied according to its terms, so long as it does not offend the law or public policy of the state.” [Bold emphasis mine]

The ordinary trust may be distinguished from the business trust in many ways. A few follow. The ordinary trust is very different from the business trust described in 13 AM. JUR. 2D Business Trusts. In an ordinary trust, unlike a business trust, there is no business to be carried on, trustees are not elected and provisions in the DOT provide for a successor trustee in the event the trustee wishes to step down, become incapacitated, die, etc., there is no beneficial interest and the transfer thereof, there are no shareholders, profits, or dividends. The ordinary trust is not a legal entity whereas the business trust is. See 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts which lays out the law of the ordinary trust.

(6) Black’s Law Definition of Declaration of Trust: the “act by which the person who holds the legal title to property or an estate acknowledges and declares that he holds the same in trust to the use of another person of for certain specified purposes. The name is also used to designate the deed of [I’m sure they meant “or”] other writing embodying such a declaration.”

What is so ironical about the ELC attacks against the ordinary trust and the DOT is that the ELC has declared their own trust in writing; they have made a written “Declaration of Trust.” If you doubt this, please go to pages 149-150 of Approved by God: A Case for Modern Disestablishment (Mesick, Michigan: Adorn Books 2004), an ELC book. Pages from that book are quoted below. Compare their words with the words from the definitions they rely on to attack the ordinary trust. It is apparent that they are declaring some type of trust.

As is explained in Analysis of “The Questions will keep coming, the last section of Chapter 18 of Approved by Man:

According to the declarations of the ELC, they recommend a type of trust (maybe a business trust) by which “property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner.” (See, Robin Wright and Ben Townsend, Approved by God: A Case for Modern Disestablishment (Mesick, Michigan: Adorn Books 2004), p. 149.). The ELC states that for property be held to reflect the ownership of Christ over His church “the property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner.” (Approved by God, p. 149).

The ELC states that property may be held in three ways: “(1) as a corporation, (2) as an unincorporated association and:

“(3) as an individual. How can property be held to reflect the ownership of Christ over His church? It must be held as an individual, and that individual must be the Lord Jesus Christ! The property should be held by the church in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true and beneficial owner. In spite of the skepticism of many, churches in 22 states have placed their property in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ without incident.” Approved by God, p. 149. The book goes on to say that “the church, by the Pastor, can execute a deed on behalf of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Ibid., p. 150.

The last paragraph of the section which is the focus of this article, “Why such a strong stand against the Declaration of Trust? states: “So, every resource cited has explained that the Declaration of Trust is a Trust document. And placing church property in a Trust is no different from placing it into a corporation.” The last sentence is another totally ridiculous statement on two accounts. First, the ELC unknowingly condemns their own method, and correctly so. Their statement may be correct as applied to the trust they recommend since it is irrefutable that the trust they recommend must be based upon the law of some type trust – such as business trust or charitable trust – since all their understanding of trusts is taken from trusts which are legal entities. Apparently they have never examined the law of ordinary trust, or, if they have, they have ignored it because it defeats their attack against the ordinary trust. Second, corporations and some kinds of trusts are legal entities. A business trust is a legal entity and has other similarities to a corporation. On the other hand, the ordinary (Bible) trust which I recommend is not a legal entity and is totally different from a corporation. This is explained in detail in Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?

Thank you, ELC, for waking up our brain cells.
Thank you, ELC, for waking up our brain cells.

The ELC and those who depend thereon need to study these matters. Since pastors have a full time job, they need the assistance of those with legal as well as Bible knowledge. A correctly worded and implemented Declaration of Trust which makes clear that from henceforth, a church abandons the ELC declaration as well as other measures will assure them that they are accomplishing their goal or glorifying God. The trust which they establish creates a legal entity. They should adopt a DOT which establishes an ordinary trust. For many other reasons other than those already indicated in these articles, that would be by far their best course of action.

“The Endnote below links to the entirety of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application; that chapter explains the Declaration of Trust and the ordinary trust, and compares incorporation with the ordinary trust.

Endnote

The following links to the entirety of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application; that chapter explains the Declaration of Trust and the ordinary trust, and compares incorporation with the ordinary trust:

Click here to go directly to the online version of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application.