THIS IS THE FIRST OF A SERIES OF ARTICLES ABOUT THE
ORGANIZATIONS THAT SHAPE NONCOMMERCIAL MEDIA AND BROADCASTING
The National Religious Broadcasters (“NRB”) is the major trade association for Evangelical broadcasters, media producers and publishers. NRB has a lot of sway within the religious business community.
The IRS has given NRB 501(c)3 status. Members elect the NRB Board, officers and ratify policies of the organization. When deciding who can become or remain a member of NRB, the organization is bound by federal law to not discriminate on the basis of race, age and gender.
But, discrimination based on sexual orientation happens every time someone applies for membership in NRB. Gays and lesbians are apparently not welcome. It says so in NRB’s Code of Ethics when applicants (and current members) must certify:
I will refrain from any sexual conduct or life-style, such as homosexuality or adul- tery (sic), which is inconsistent with Scripture, or any promotion of the same.
Plus, the Code of Ethics requires members to turn in “sexual sinners”:
When I believe a fellow member has sinned against me or the Lord, or has violated this Code of Ethics, I will follow the principles and procedures set forth in God’s Word and in Article I of the Bylaws.
THE TEST: ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS
To determine whether an organization meets the religious purposes test of section 501(c)(3), the IRS maintains two basic guidelines:
• That the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held.
• That the practices and rituals associated with the organization's religious belief or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.
Therefore, NRB may not qualify as a tax exempt religious organization if its actions – as contrasted with its beliefs – are contrary to well established and clearly defined public policy. In situations such as housing, public accommodations and the military, discrimination of the basis of sexual orientation is prohibited. These are clearly well established and defined public polices.
We contacted the NRB press office for comment and they did not respond.
NRB IN ACTION
NRB’s bias was on display in Spring 2014 when a Christian book publisher was forced to resign its membership because it published God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines. The book explores the notion that same-gender sex is not sinful.
NRB CEO Jerry Johnson condemned the publisher. In a meeting, Johnson asked the then-member to refrain from publishing what NRB considered “unbiblical material.”
The publisher called Johnson’s bluff and said “no.”
Johnson told the publisher: …if [you want] to remain NRB associate members, I would have to refer the matter to our Ethics Committee for review, or [the publisher] could agree to resign their membership.
The publisher resigned immediately.