Politics and the Church – Extrication From the Shoal Waters [Part 36]

Frequently in today’s media comments are made that simply assume that rich people have somehow gotten their wealth unjustly, so it is right for the government to take their wealth from them.  This is seen in such remarks as, “It is time for folks like me who make more than $250,000 to pay our fair share.” [William McGurn, “For Obama, Taxes Are about Fairness”, Wall Street Journal, August 19, 2008].  That simply assumes, without argument, that whatever ‘fair’ is, it must somehow be more taxes than what rich people are currently paying.  They might say they can afford it or it won’t hurt them. [I remind such thinkers that if they believe they are not paying enough taxes they can sit down a ‘stroke’ an extra check to the US treasury…there is no law against that.]  The Bible does not reflect this kind of thinking, nor is there any suggestion that governments have the right to take money from wealthy people simply because they are wealthy.  The emphasis in the Bible is on treating both rich and poor fairly and justly.  If riches have been gained through wrong they should be penalized, but if they have not done any wrong, they should not be punished.  “To impose a fine on a righteous man is not good, nor to strike the noble for their uprightness” (Prov. 17:26).  The Bible warns against treating the poor unjustly: “You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in his lawsuit” (Exod. 23:6).  But at other times it warns against favoring the poor: “Nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his lawsuit” (Exod. 23:3). It is unfair…and contrary to the teaching of Scripture…to stereotype all rich people as ‘evil’ or ‘probably evil’, or to assume that they have somehow exploited other people and made their money in unjust ways.

If everyone who earns income in a society pays at least some amount of tax, then the government is accountable to the broadest possible base of society for how it spends money.  Some provision should be made for those who earn only a small income, but all should have some tax obligation.  Even in the law code of ancient Israel, there was provision for those who could not provide a sacrificial lamb (Lev.12:6, 12:8).  In the United States in 2009, after endless tinkering with the tax code, the government has now put us in a position where nearly half (47%) of the adult citizens pay no federal income tax at all…71 million people. [Jeanne Sahadi, “47% Will Pay No Federal Income Tax”, CNN.com (Sept 30, 1999)].  This means that nearly half of the voters in the United States do not really care whether the government doubles or triples the tax rate, because they do not see the tax rate affecting them.  When a politician promises trillions of dollars in new government spending, half the population thinks it doesn’t matter at all, because they think it won’t cost them a dime.  In this way the government is cut loose from accountability to the voters, and can tax and spend the nation into oblivion, with little fear that the majority population will care until it is too late.  Today, every man, woman, and child now living in the United States has a tax obligation of $38,943. [Rahn, “The Growing Debt Bomb].  To put it another way, the obligation for every person who pays taxes in the United States is $110,023.  The press and the church has been overwhelmingly silent on this issue.  Now that people who pay almost no taxes have become a majority of the voters in the United States, the stage is set for the situation to continue in the same direction, so that a greater and greater share of the total tax burden will be borne by a smaller and smaller percentage of the population.  The Bible gives us direction on this situation…”Thou shall not steal”.

Sadly most Americans are really unaware of just how much they really pay in taxes.  They are spread among various collecting agencies, fees, and in the costs of products that we buy…prior to the sales tax addition.  Tax Freedom Day is one way for us to understand just how much we pay in taxes.  This is that day of the year when one has finally earned enough money to pay their tax bill for the year (federal, state, and local).  In 2014 Tax Freedom Day fell on April 21. [Tax Foundation, “Tax Freedom Day”, http://taxfoundation.org/tax-topics/tax-freedom-day]. By the way, in 1900 Tax Freedom Day fell on January 22. [Tax Foundation, “Tax Freedom Day 2014 Is April 21, Three Days Later Than Last Year”, http://taxfoundation.org/article/tax-freedom-day-2014-april-21-three-days-later-last-year].  Taxes were so high in 2014 that Americans spent more on paying taxes than they did on food, clothing, and housing combined. [Ibid].

The steadily repeating cycle of increasing spending, increasing debt, and increasing taxes, followed by another round of more spending, more debt, and more taxes, and so forth, leads to the result predicted by Thomas Jefferson : “If we run into such debts, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessities and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our callings and our creeds, as the people of England are, our people, like them, must come to labor sixteen hours in the twenty-four, give earnings of fifteen of these hours to the government for their debts and daily expenses; and the sixteenth being insufficient to afford us bread, we must live, as they now do, on oatmeal and potatoes; have no time to think, no means of calling the mismanagers to account…This example reads to us the salutary lesson, that private fortunes are destroyed by public as well as private extravagance…the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering…the fore horse of this frightful team is public debt.  Taxation follows that, and in its train, wretchedness and oppression. [Thomas Jefferson, Writings of Thomas Jefferson, vol. 15, ed. Andrew Lipscomb, Washington DC: The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Association, 1904, pgs. 39-40].

The more secular and biblically illiterate America becomes, the less is the genuine purpose of government being fulfilled, whether in the issues of morality, life, education, economics, business, self-defense, taxation, or any other.  Government now regularly invades and usurps…just like a foreign invader…the responsibilities of the individual, the family, and the church, thus violating the jurisdictional line that Jesus Himself drew in Matthew 22:21…a government will be limited only so long as it understands that there is a power greater than itself to which it must answer…God Almighty.  Whenever government becomes secular, it ceases to be limited, for it recognizes no power higher than itself and therefore becomes the supreme authority on all subjects and in all venues…as has now become the case in America.

Restoring America to the level of greatness that God intended in its foundation is going to require that this nation return to God…and not just in time of tragedy.  As was the situation even prior to its foundation, it was the pastors and ministers who woke up our people to the plans God had for us if only we would rely on Him.  It was from the pulpits that the ‘seeds of revolution and independence’ were sowed.  It will be up to the Christian churches once again to start another great revival.  But are today’s churches up to the task?  Next week we will start the next phase in our search to ‘extricate our ship of state from shoal waters’.  Hopefully our ‘bridge crew’ will come to realize the dire situation our ‘ship of state’ is in.  Next…”Condition of the Christian Church”.

– Bob Munsey

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