Render Unto Caesar… Is it “Christian” to pay taxes?

Uncle Sam

Here are a few everyday taxes that  we “pay our fair share of” for you to ponder. There are hundreds more.

Federal Income Tax
State income Tax
Payroll Tax
Social Security Tax
Medicare Tax
Property Tax
State Sales Tax
Gasoline Tax (Federal and State)
Utility taxes (Water, Gas, Sewage, Electric, Cable TV, Phone, etc.)
Various licenses (Just a Tax by Another Name) for Hunting, Fishing, Marriage, etc.
Car Taxes (License Plate, Transfer taxes, New Car Surcharge, Motorcycle, etc.)
Hotel Taxes
School tax (State and Local)
IRA and Investment Taxes and Penalties
Inheritance Tax (Federal and State)
Small business Taxes (Too Numerous to List)
Dog License/Permit (Tax by Another Name)
Air Travel Taxes
Boat Tax (Watercraft, etc.)
Gift Tax

I have heard it argued that it is, in fact, the Christian’s duty to pay taxes. And that it is the Christian’s Biblical responsibility to pay them blindly, without question or hesitation. Please allow me to be just a little nit picky here. First of all, one does not pay taxes, taxes are taken. Taxation is coercive. No matter how noble the cause, no matter how justifiable the ends may seem to be; if you forcibly take income from one person to give to another it is theft and it is immoral. Whatever the reason, whatever the cause, whatever the excuse, it is immoral and is nothing less than theft. In the book of Luke (KJV) Jesus said, “He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.” Jesus did not say or imply that the government, or your neighbor, should take your belongings, keep a portion of it, and distribute it to whomever. Nor did He say the taking of your property or wealth was acceptable by majority vote. Which would mean to any reasonably thinking person that taxation is not justifiable for any reason, whether it be noble or not. The majority of taxes are not allocated for noble causes in the least. Your tax dollars are funding illegal and immoral wars, abortions, erroneous and failed social programs, foreign “aid”, government salaries and pensions, and thousands of faulty projects, boondoggles, and bridges to nowhere. You and millions of others are funding, without a voice, an out of control, immoral, and wicked behemoth.

It is laughable to hear the term “government funded” thrown around so flippantly when it comes to government’s pet projects, grants, social programs, and so forth. How could an entity that does not produce anything have any honest means to provide anything? Government does not produce anything because it uses coercion to fund itself. The very heart of the state is taxation. Taxation, especially the income tax, is immoral, unethical, and unconstitutional. You would be hard pressed to discover any genuine constitutional scholar that could successfully argue the legitimacy of the income tax. Nor would you find a true teacher of the Gospel teaching a legitimate Biblical excuse for such an obvious and unjust crime against an individual. Your wealth is being robbed from you at an increasingly alarming rate. There are a plethora of taxes with new ones being voted to law on a regular basis. As of 2014, the number of pages in the federal tax code was 74,608! Imagine how long the tax code will be in thirty years. Perhaps in the future the governemt will abandon taxes altogether, control all of your income, and give you a stipend? It is not an outlandish statement considering the enormity of the tax code, the out of control spending from the government, and the increasing number of politicians and government employees who bleed the system. So the next time someone puffs out their chest to brag about what the government does with our money, just remember Washington, DC, per capita, is one of the richest cities in the world. Remember that the next time you struggle for money to pay for gas so you can drive to your second job. All the while your representatives in DC are being driven to their elitist functions and parties by their driver in a government owned vehicle with gas you paid for.

The biggest argument I hear from Christians who are so eager to do their civic duty and pay taxes is from the book of Matthew.

Matthew 22:15-22 (NIV). Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. “Teacher,” they said, “we know that you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?” But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?” “Caesar’s,” they replied. Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.

Your immediate response to this would be to take it at face value with a knee-jerk reaction saying, “Yeah, there it is. Jesus condones and promotes taxes… So you better pay your fair share!” But that is a very easy and shallow argument. The best teaching I have ever heard on this scripture is from Jeff Barr. Among other things he says: “Over the centuries, theologians, scholars, laymen, and potentates have interpreted the Tribute Episode incorrectly as Jesus’ support for the payment of taxes. First, this interpretation does not square with the political climate of the times. The Tribute Episode is set in the middle of a decades-old tax-revolt against Caesar’s tribute. Second, the rhetorical structure of the Tribute Episode, itself, contradicts any interpretation that Jesus supported paying taxes. Third, the Gospels contain episode after episode of subtle sedition. The Tribute Episode is just another of these subtly seditious scenes. When seen in the context of subtle sedition, the phrase “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” means that the emperor is owed nothing.”

It is no more a Christian’s duty to pay taxes as it is for the Christian to knock on their neighbor’s door and take their wallet at gun point. Charity is not supporting the government taking people’s wealth and redistributing it and stated very plainly it is supporting stealing. Even if it is done by majority vote, because theft by majority vote is still theft. True charity is voluntarily giving one’s own money, from the sweat of their own brow, without threat or law.

Ephesians 4:28 (NIV) Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.

 

 

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I Am a Political Atheist.

“If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.” – Mark Twain

“Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.” – Proverbs 4:27 (NIV)

Yes, it is true, I am a political atheist. I do not believe in elected politics or the almighty god of democracy any longer. I will admit I used to be a political junkie and election night was my Super Bowl. I would argue the doctrine of what I thought was conservatism like a fiery Pentecostal evangelist. I was right, you were wrong, and that was the end of the story. I was an apostle of Shawn Hannity, Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh and I new all the clever RNC talking points spewed forth by the aforementioned. I thought I was educated in the way of elected politics, political theory, conservatism, and what the Bible said about who and what to vote for but I was dead wrong. Blasphemy was common place and I did not even know it. I actually thought Republican and Christian were synonymous and if Jesus were here in the flesh He would actually vote, and even worse vote a straight Republican ticket. An awakening began in me around 2004. The Spirit of the Lord began to deal with me concerning these matters and I began to read books and essays on economics, elected politics, political theory, history, and Christianity’s role in politics. I was becoming what the political elites and the media do not want you to be; educated.

No meaningful change ever comes from elected politics. Sure, they will throw you a bone from time to time by lowering or raising a tax or passing some controversial bill, but it is just a dog and pony show. Voting has become a sacred cow. Election Day is akin to a holy day to be revered and respected by the masses and voting is considered an honor similar to a religious rite. After all, “good men and women died for our right to vote.” A good majority of polling stations are even in churches. In election season you will hear the same pitch over and over. “If you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain!” It is my opinion that the folks that do vote do not have the right to complain. The voters are the ones perpetuating a broken system and voting for the proverbial “lessor of two evils.” The problem with voting for the lesser of two evils is you are still voting for evil. There is no choice in elected politics. You have two sides arguing over two candidates who are bought and paid for by the same corporations and supported by most of the same special interest groups. In reality it is only their rhetoric that is just somewhat different. Politics is like professional wrestling. In front of the camera the wrestlers are enemies but behind the scenes they are friends and even write their next match’s script together.

Senate races are especially amusing to me now. The age old argument is you have to hold your nose and vote for candidate A because you do not want candidate B’s party to win the majority. But so what if one party has the majority over the other? Americans are either incredibly optimistic, ridiculously naive, or the majority of voters have early onset of Alzheimer’s disease. One only has to go back a short time to see the folly of the, “majority will run amuck” myth. In 1994 after the Republicans won the congress with the “Republican Revolution” and Speaker Newt Gingrich made his “Contract with America” the Republicans repealed nothing. That is right; nothing. All their talk of the bloated Clinton controlled government and they repealed nothing. Government, on their watch, just got bigger. More recently under Bush II’s administration when the Republicans controlled every branch of government, government grew more than even FDR could have imagined . The spending was astronomical and the policies were detrimental. The TSA, No Child Left Behind, The Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit (the largest socialized medicine scheme since Lyndon B Johnson), and countless other boondoggles were ripe with fraud and cronyism that would would make LBJ look conservative. Bush’s numbers in his first four years, while his party controlled Congress, added almost $350 billion to the federal budget.

The Republican pander to the religious-right is especially sickening at election time. A lot of Christian Republicans will tell you they are a one issue voter and the swing of their vote depends on the candidates position on abortion. If the Republicans did not have the “pro-life” platform to run on, they could not run. If they really wanted it abolished it would have been abolished by now. And what constitutes being pro life? How could someone claim to be for life and lobby to bomb civilians? The Republicans controlled the government under Bush and essentially they could have rammed almost anything through but here we are years later and abortion is still legal, government is a tyrannical behemoth, and Bush’s extra-constitutional exploits paved the way for Obama’s follies. It is astonishing to me how Obama supporters could still hate Bush. Obama has taken the Bush Doctrine and ran with it. Obama shares a myriad of commonalities with Bush; so much so you would think Bush never left office. For example both administrations had enormous bailouts, out of control federal spending, colossal unemployment numbers, stimulus packages, assaults on civil liberties, huge expansions in social medicine, executive orders, and more illegal wars and skirmishes than all administrations combined. Any reasonably thinking and educated person would look at the two administrations and draw one conclusion, that these two are one.

So what is a good Christian political atheist to do? It is simple really. Pray and believe God for the best despite the ridiculous propaganda and folly of the ruling class. A Christian should only look to the Bible for their example. There is no example of the early church promoting political revolution. Jesus could have came to earth and set up an earthly kingdom here. The Jews fully expected Jesus to helm a major political revolution. In fact, Satan promised Jesus that very thing if Christ would only bow down and worship him. The Word says in Matthew 4, “Again, the devil taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; And saith unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” I cannot even begin to imagine the Apostles advocating and promoting Caesar the way Christians advocate politicians. Even if Rome would have been a “Christian” nation you would not have seen politicking in the early church because it only causes division and bitter divide amongst believers and those we are called to reach. No substantial or meaningful change will ever come from elected politics, if it did voting would be outlawed. Change will only come when people wake from the slumber, really educate themselves, turn off Fox News and CNN, and study unbiased history while seeking God’s will.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV)

Your Foreign Policy Is Wrong.

Lesley Stahl discussing U.S. sanctions against Iraq on 60 Minutes in 1996: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.” (May 1996)

“F**k Saddam, we’re taking him out.” –President George W. Bush (Said to three U.S. Senators a full year before the U.S. invasion of Iraq.)

“God is pro-war.” -Jerry Falwell (January 2004)

You would be hard pressed to find a subject more misunderstood in modern society, and especially in the church, than foreign policy and war. Christians and non-Christians alike will argue their position with fervent passion with most having never grasped the New Testament teachings of peace and grace or even read a book on the subject of foreign policy. Most could not even find the countries on a map they are arguing to invade! When the calls from Christians to bomb, invade, and occupy foreign lands is greater than the call to reach a nation for Christ there is serious error.

Your foreign policy is wrong when it does not line up with what the New Testament teaches. There are many times in the Old Testament that God directed His people to war but to say this is how God operates in the New Testament age of grace is the opposite of Jesus’ teachings. It also implies that modern governments are hearing from, and are being directed by God on matters of foreign policy. But the United States, Israel, or any other nation’s military is not God’s Army and their leaders are not God’s priests. Furthermore, to say God is on any one nation’s side is ludicrous. God does not look down upon the Earth and see a map with border lines and nation states. There are Christians on both sides of every conflict regardless of what nation they are citizen of or what their government represents. Christians perish, and have perished, on both sides of every bombing raid or invasion in all of history. See Here. But every knee-jerk argument invoked by well meaning Christians seem to follow the belief of what they claim as divine favor and to be in disagreement with the majority of government’s decisions, according to them, is sinful. The Book of Romans is usually the “smoking gun” to end all debate. For example… “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. (‭Romans‬ ‭13‬:‭1-2‬ KJV) If this is a valid argument of what this scripture really means, or a worthy excuse to follow government’s every whim, then the Germans under the Nazi regime would be justified by following this misinterpretation and supporting every atrocity perpetrated by their government during the second world war. In actuality Christians are very selective as to which commands they will follow. Most of them would never travel abroad and preemptively kill in mass but let them be ordered by the government to do so and they will because they fail to correctly distinguish between Old and New Testament.

It seems today if you are a Christian you are automatically expected to believe that God is pro-war and blesses every skirmish, war or invasion. But being pro-war is not a traditional Christian position, nor is it a traditional conservative position. American Christians should study the Word without the dark cloud of political bias hanging ominously above their heads. They should also study the hatred and disgust of war by the early church fathers. For example, Justin Martyr said this of the peaceful nature and heart of early Christians: “And we who had been filled with war and mutual slaughter and every wickedness have each one all the world over changed the instruments of war, the swords into plows and the spears into farming instruments, and we cultivate piety, righteousness, love for all men, faith and the hope which is from the Father Himself through the Crucified One. We who hated and slew one another, and because of differences in customs would not share a common hearth with those who are not of our tribe, now after the appearance of Christ have become sociable, and pray for our enemies, and try to persuade those who hate us unjustly in order that they, living according to the good suggestions of Christ, may share our hope of obtaining the same reward from God, Who is master of all.” Contrast Martyr’s quote, which WAS mainstream thought, with a Methodist’s minister’s quote during the war hysteria at the beginning of World War I: “I would have gone over the top with other Americans. I would have driven my bayonet into the throat or the eye or stomach of the Huns without the slightest hesitation, and my conscience would not have bothered me in the least.” This quote represents the heart of modern Christianity that was birthed during the dreaded Century of War. Also, seeing that the majority of American Christians are Republican, they should study the early conservatives and realize that before William F. Buckley, Jr. (ex-CIA man), and the publication of his magazine National Review, the Republican Party was the anti-war party. The founding fathers were also vehemently opposed to foreign entanglements of every kind. Thomas Jefferson said: “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” The answer for modern theorists seems to be the more foreign entanglements the U.S. Involves itself in then the safer the world will be. If they would study blow black as suggested by the CIA and made mainstream by Dr. Ron Paul, they would realize the folly of their beliefs. Their answer to fix the problems started by dropping bombs is strangely enough, to drop more bombs.

Foreign invasions in modern time and throughout history have been done under the guise of humanitarian missions with the U.S. media being the most vocal supporters. Years ago there was a defector from the Soviet Union who said the biggest difference between the people of the Soviet Union and the United States is people in the U.S. actually believe what the media reports. No modern U.S. invasion has been a humanitarian mission. One example is Iraq. The entire Christian population has been driven out or ethnically cleansed of their communities where they have worshiped since the days of Christ and this is a direct result of the U.S. invasion. The same is true for Libya. It is true that Saddam and Gaddafi were horrible men and even more horrible leaders but the U.S. has no right to invade any sovereign nation, especially without congressional approval. Even with congressional approval it does not make pre-emptive war moral or just. If the U.S. military industrial complex was in the business of humanitarian mission then they would have liberated thousands of people in Africa who have been slaughtered by radical regimes for years.

Most modern Christians are unapologetically militant and ready to bomb any nation for almost any reason. Their hearts are so full of vengeance and blood-lust. Remember, sprinkled in amongst the bomb’s targets are children, women, and Christians dying a death they do not deserve. If there is one thing any U.S. president can count on, it is the support of American Christians and the dumbed down masses for any and all military action. This is in spite years of blow-back and terrorism started by illegal, unjust, and immoral offensive wars. Your foreign policy is wrong.

As for me and my house, we will serve The Prince of Peace…not the God of War.

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14 (KJV)

Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Matthew 5:9 (KJV)

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Romans 12:18 (KJV)

Would Jesus Drop An Atomic Bomb?

The old cliche is true; history really does repeat itself. And so, the wars roll on. With each generation humanity travels much of the same old road. The mistakes and atrocities of each generation seem to disappear in the annals of time with subsequent generations failing to learn or choosing to ignore, for whatever reason, the mistakes of their fathers. This Saturday, August 9, is the anniversary for the lesser discussed, and often forgotten, bombing on the city of Nagasaki, Japan. Nagasaki was the second city in two equally barbaric and aggressive atomic bombings on defenseless civilian populations that took the war torn Japanese people to the brink of extinction and further crippled their fascist government.

The original target was the city of Kokura, not Nagasaki. Kokura, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki had been mostly spared from the US bombing raids that burned nearly sixty other Japanese cities to the ground. The reason for mostly excluding these cities from conventional bombings was to see the affects on undamaged buildings with living inhabitants when an atomic bomb, the world’s first WMD, was exploded. In effect, the atomic bombings in Japan were nothing short of a nuclear science experiment.

On the morning of August 9, 1945 a bomber called Bockscar, with an all Christian crew, took off from Tinian Island and had been blessed by the prayers of several Christian chaplains. The crew was instructed to drop the bomb through visually siting the city but upon arrival to Kokura the cloud cover was so dense that the crew headed for its secondary target, Nagasaki. Most historians estimate the death toll in Nagasaki at 50,000. Children playing in the streets and innocent men and women were instantly vaporized while others that survived the initial blast lived to develop excruciating diseases and cancers. Tens of thousands suffered from radiation poisoning and chromosomal defects. One eyewitness account from a lady who survived the attack recalled a horrifying experience as two figures, what she thought were lizards, crawled on the hillside where she found shelter. It turns out they were two survivors who had their skin flash burned from their bodies. The hell dropped from the sky that morning is unimaginable, even in nightmares.

Nagasaki had the largest concentration of Christians along with the largest cathedral in the entire Orient. The Jesuit missionary Francis Xavier had established a mission church there in 1549 and the Christian community flourished for several generations. Unfortunately, around sixty years after Xavier founded the mission the Japanese government began persecution of the burgeoning community. They were tortured, murdered, and even crucified. The faith was all but extinguished. But was it?

In the 1850s, unbeknownst to the government, it was realized there were thousands of Christians in Nagasaki covertly practicing their faith. This rekindled another round of persecution, but due to international pressure the abuse stopped and the church emerged triumphant, even building a massive church building named St. Mary’s Cathedral. The Christians onboard Bockscar, when making visual conformation on the city, recognized their target by identifying the cathedral.

At 11:02 in the morning, the entire Nagasaki Christian community was annihilated by a Christian crew on behest of a Christian nation. The Japanese tried for 200 years to stamp out Christianity in their pagan nation; and what they could not do, American Christians did in less than a minute.

So I ask you, would Jesus Christ drop an atomic bomb?