The Christian non-profit corporation

not necessarily in that order

“This illustrates the difference between a business owned by a person, and a public corporation owned by shareholders. Ladar Levison can decide to shutter Lavabit — a move that will personally cost him money — because he believes it’s the right thing to do. I applaud that decision, but it’s one he’s only able to make because he doesn’t have to answer to public shareholders. Could you imagine what would happen if Mark Zuckerberg or Larry Page decided to shut down Facebook or Google rather than answer National Security Letters? They couldn’t. They would be fired.” — Lavabit E-Mail Service Shut Down, by Bruce Schneier

I haven’t fully thought this out, but there is some kind of connection between this and Christians organizing as non-profits. I don’t think it’s wrong for a Christian to operate a non-profit, but I do think activities intrinsic to the Christian mission should be done by men and women, not corporations.

It may not be so at its inception; it probably isn’t true in every single case; but a mature Christian non-profit corporation is first a corporation, then a non-profit, and lastly Christian. If it comes to a crunch, corporate survival comes first, and the mission comes second. Any distinctly Christian elements will be subordinated to the continued welfare of the corporation and to the mission. In practice, the “Christian” part is mostly rhetorical. Lose a government grant, or cancel morning prayer? Well, people can pray at home.

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