Overture 17 from Pacific Northwest Presbytery requests that the 45th General Assembly to adopt a one-sentence statement encouraging presbyteries to have a theological discussion with any candidate considering “opting out” of Social Security. The reason is that the Internal Revenue Service requires a minister to sign a statement concerning the conscientious reasons for “opting out” and to inform his ordaining body of his decision. The statement reads as follows: “I certify that I am conscientiously opposed to, or because of my religious principles I am opposed to, the acceptance (for services I perform as a minister, member of a religious order not under a vow of poverty, or Christian Science practitioner) of any public insurance that makes payments in the event of death, disability, old age, or retirement; or that makes payments toward the cost of, or provides services for, medical care. (Public insurance includes insurance systems established by the Social Security Act.)”

Pacific Northwest Stated Clerk Howard Donahoe says, “Most people seem to think opting out of Social Security is primarily a financial decision. But according to the IRS, it’s essentially a theological one instead.” The Presbytery asserts that it is not clear that the Westminster Standards or the Scriptures would necessarily lead someone to the conscientious opposition to Social Security, so it would be prudent for presbyteries to discuss with a candidate who plans to take this exemption how he reached his position.

The Overture was referred to the Overtures Committee (OC) and to the Committee on Constitutional Business which has advised the OC that it  is not in conflict with the PCA Constitution.