Christianity Today, the nonprofit media ministry that publishes Church Law & Tax Report, recently unveiled its new cause: Beautiful Orthodoxy. The vision: In a world in desperate need of truth, goodness, and beauty, Christianity Today leads the church by richly communicating the breadth of the true, good, and beautiful gospel.
Matthew Branaugh, Editor of Church Law & Tax Report, recently explained how this cause relates to the publication.
How does Church Law & Tax Report reflect Beautiful Orthodoxy?
We know legal, tax, and risk management matters don't seem too connected to the word "beauty," but we think the vision of Beautiful Orthodoxy fits well with this publication both philosophically and practically.
Philosophically speaking, American culture is collapsing under the weight of its own legal system. The 2013 annual report by the Federal Judiciary underscores this reality: 376,000 filings of civil or criminal cases in federal district courts; another 56,475 federal appellate court filings; and 1.1 million bankruptcy cases. When local court cases are included, some organizations, such as the National Federation of Independent Business, believe 15 million lawsuits are filed each year in America.
And none of this accounts for the hundreds of laws made every year at the federal and state legislatures, or through government-instituted regulatory agencies. The volume of laws and legal precedents to comply with continues to expand at a mind-boggling rate.
What this tells us is that citizens continue to place their faith in a failing system that perpetuates more conflict, more lawsuits, more regulation, and more lawyers. Churches have a lot to say about what true peace and justice mean to every human being. Jesus said he came to fulfill the law, and he said he came that we might have life and have it abundantly. As our society continues on its crash course with judicial chaos, churches have a powerful message to share to a people desperate for something better. We believe the cause of Beautiful Orthodoxy speaks to this.
Practically speaking, the above statistics underscore a sobering reality for church leaders. There are a lot of laws that need to be followed and a lot of liabilities to address.
At times, though, the church's track record on these fronts is underwhelming. For instance, when Senior Editor Richard Hammar categorizes the top reasons churches go to court each year, child abuse allegations consistently rank first. Battles over insurance policies, zoning issues, and property also regularly make the top five.