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Rebuilding Society and The Tax Protest Movement: Part Three
Part Three continued
It is important to recover and relearn the "original intent" of the founding fathers. Study in this area is valuable. Nothing said in this article should be interpreted as ridiculing constitutionalists who are engaging in serious historical research. Battles should happen on many different fronts. The results of serious research should be presented at all levels of our democratic process, especially to our elected representatives. This goes back to my idea of picking our battles. Where can we be most effective? Adopting strategies that will bankrupt the system have not been carefully thought out. This is actually seen as a possible strategy by some tax protestors. It is not in anyone's interest to help precipitate a financial collapse. The resulting ugly, bloody anarchy would more than likely lead to a severe police and military crackdown. It should not be forgotten that "totalitarianism is built upon the ashes of anarchy." The freedoms we enjoy today could very well be lost. An oppressive government may be better than complete anarchy. The founding fathers of our nation had taxation without representation. Today we have taxation with representation. Let's change our representatives.
Our current representatives tolerate and perpetuate the present system. It has been said, "politics is dirty." This is true, however, it is no excuse for apathy and lack of involvement. Elected officials must be educated and confronted with constitutional facts. If they do not respond favorably to valid constitutional arguments, then they must be voted out. New political parties may be needed. Christians should run for public office and advance the cause of freedom. The Christian's cultural involvement will open many significant opportunities for proclaiming the gospel and restoring our lost freedoms.
When tax protestors leave the system and encourage others to do so, they are starting little brush fires or crises for the government. This plays right into the hands of the socialists who use the occasion to call for more monies to be appropriated to the IRS to fight subversion of the system. This phenomenon has been appropriately labeled "government by crisis." The federal government loves crises. This allows them to justify an ever-greater intrusion into our lives in the name of preserving the system. This trend is well documented. Those in power will not relinquish it without a fight.
Contrary to what some tax protestors are saying, very few people have successfully escaped the tax system. Those out of the system, for obvious reasons, do not broadcast it. In order to protect themselves, they must lay low. This approach is at odds with cultural involvement. Dropping out of society and hunkering down, hiding from the IRS, is a self-defeating strategy.
Writing on certain controversial but justifiable topics may require using an alias. The founding fathers of our nation used this approach. It may be appropriate to use separate newsletters and mailing addresses so as not to unnecessarily cause some tyrannical bureaucrat to begin oppressive investigations against innocent parties. Christian charity demands that actions on our part not endanger our families and brothers and sisters. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that many agents of the federal government could not care less about Boston Tea Party's, Schiff's or anyone else's arguments, they simply believe in raw power. Some government agents shoot first and maybe ask questions later. Remember the federal government attack on Randy Weaver and the Branch Davidians.
Jury members do not feel sympathy for most tax protestors. Why? Jury members themselves pay taxes and as a rule resent those whom they perceive are trying to take advantage of the system. Jury members may also believe the tax protestor is cheating the system and this is why their tax rates keep going up. By dropping out of the system, the tax protestor is not attempting to reach any kind of unanimity with the average tax-paying citizen. A consensus has to be built politically before laws can be changed.
Attorney David G. Hagopian has written a valuable two part article "Render To All What Is Due Them" in the Ordained Servant. Hagopian's scholarly article deals with the biblical requirement of paying taxes to the state. In his thoroughgoing article, Hagopian addresses and provides a biblically based answer to the jurisdictional or "nature of government" argument that some tax protestors use. Some of Hagopian's relevant comments follow:
Some tax resistance advocates argue that if a given tax is not lawfully imposed, it is not rightfully due. We are only to render to Caesar what is his, they tell us, and we can only give back to Caesar that to which he is entitled in the first place. To be sure, the state often attempts to get more than its due, and this argument may be well-founded, depending upon the circumstances.
To begin with, this argument depends upon the type of government in power. While we have already noted that our obligation to obey rulers and pay taxes to them does not depend upon the type of government in power, the type of government in power does dictate the resource available to the tax resister in any given circumstance. To illustrate, a believer in Imperial Rome simply did not have all of the means of recourse available to a believer in twentieth century America. Whereas a tax revolt may very well have cost you your life in Imperial Rome as it did with Judas of Galilee, it may cost you your life savings in twentieth century America! This is simply to say that the consequences of resisting a given tax will vary depending upon the circumstances in which the believer finds himself. And let us never be so myopic as to forget that some modern believers may find themselves in countries more like Imperial Rome than modern America.20
Another relevant article in regard to a proper Christian course of action is "The Civil Order--A Covenantal View" by Michael Paul Turi, a former advocate of the "patriot tax protest movement" in the Chalcedon Report.21 Turi deals with the apostle Paul's instruction to Christians in Romans 13:1-7 regarding subjection to the state. Turi argues that our present tax system is Christ's chastisement of His church. Those who refuse to pay taxes may very well be rebelling against Christ's chastisement. The fruit of submitting to Christ's chastisement will surely bring about a reawakening to God's principles for government that alone can bring freedom.
The Tenth District Federal Court, according to Devvy Kidd (former candidate for U.S. Congress in the State of California), will not listen to any more tax protest cases.22 Why? The Court is tired of hearing what they perceive to be fraudulent, moronic arguments. Unfortunately, in a number of cases this is precisely what has happened. Every one loses when bogus arguments take the place of serious research. Many tax protestors have become nothing more than guinea pigs for someone's latest theory on how to escape the system. Finally, those who write on tax protest strategies should offer disclaimers if they are not trained in the law and competent to give legal advice. They should also obtain an indemnification bond (similar to malpractice insurance) to protect those who follow their advice and end up in the "crossbar hotel."
Are there reasons for hope? Educating politicians with biblical and constitutional arguments will prove very effective. Why? God honors faithfulness to His covenant in history. The word of God does not return void (Isaiah 55:11). In summary, it should be remembered that Christians are to follow Christ's commands set forth in Scripture. We should use all the legal means presently available to us in correcting our unjust system. The current unconstitutional tax structure can be changed by involvement in the political system. Confrontation with tax officials using arguments such as those offered by a number of tax protestors will be unsuccessful. Why? Because they are Anabaptistic (a radical individualistic approach to government) and destructive to social order which is necessary for society to exist. Tax protest strategies which advocate that people leave the system are incapable of producing a positive, lasting change in society because at the core of these arguments is a non-biblical presupposition of human autonomy. In addition, they are not seeking to bring about change through the elected magistrate. The covenantal approach is uniquely reformed and one that takes seriously divinely appointed representatives. Rushdoony sets before us some important thoughts on history and a proper course of action:
The Anabaptist despaired of any hope in civil government. They sought a radical separation from the world which, while stressing a voluntary church and a "spiritual" reformation, was marked by a surrender of civil order as evil and beyond redemption. Extremists in Anabaptism sought to establish their own civil order of the saints by revolution, but most withdrew and regarded both the state and the church which worked with the framework of civil order as false and even evil. To most princes and churchmen, it was the Anabaptist solution which was evil. It was imperative thus for Calvin to avoid any association of his movement with Anabaptism, with which he emphatically disagreed.
As a result, Calvin strongly stressed civil obedience while allowing for ordered change through civil magistrates. The Renaissance was an era of statism, tyranny, and corruption. Revolt made sense to many and was very much in the air. For Calvinism to have fanned the fires of civil revolt would have been fatal. An analogy to the present can be made. I find, wherever I speak, churchmen, as they hear of the persecution of Christians, and encroachments on religious freedom in the United States, are quick about asking if it is not about time to resort to arms! I find it imperative to emphasize civil obedience, I stress the fact that a very, very large number of church members do not vote; very, very few ever contribute to a political campaign, and fewer are active in politics. When the means of peaceful solutions can readily give us victory, to talk about suicidal violence is morally wrong. We have a battle to wage peacefully in the courts and in legislative bodies. Calvin was concerned with avoiding an ungodly disaster; so too must we be concerned.23
As shown by Rushdoony, John Calvin, the Protestant Reformer, believed in "ordered change through civil magistrates." This writer knows of individuals in the tax protest movement who are not active politically, and in some cases have never even voted. Hopefully, the wisdom of Calvin is not lost to those who profess reformed convictions. It has been said, "The power to tax is the power to control and destroy." This is true. One of my disagreements with tax protestors is one of biblical strategy on how to regain freedom and liberty. On certain issues, they may be theoretically correct. Being theoretically correct does not justify breaking even inequitable laws, especially when we have a process available to change the situation.
It seems as if the authors of the various books protesting taxes have rarely targeted their elected representatives with their arguments. Have these authors sought out meetings with their representatives or their staff? If the tax protestor goes to the court with his arguments, then he should make sure the arguments are constitutionally sound. How can this be accomplished? If an elected representative will back the case by saying that in their opinion the case has merit, this adds enormous credibility and weight to the case. If the elected representative agrees with the arguments then this creates better opportunities to convince our fellow citizens. We cannot afford to present flawed and dubious arguments to the court. This hurts all future cases by creating a prejudice against tax cases. The Tenth District Federal Court is a case in point.
In conclusion, the commands of Scripture transcend tax protest arguments and strategies. Therefore, the believer must pay taxes, pray for relief, and work to change society. We are in a war of ideas, a cultural war of conflicting world views. Any strategy that leaves out declaring the whole counsel of God is doomed to failure. Fallen men do not like freedom. They love slavery even to the state. If this is doubted, consider the likelihood of scrapping the present socialist "Social Security" system. Demolishing this cultural idol is unthinkable even for many Christians. Today, men look to the government for salvation and all their needs. This view of government is nothing short of idolatry on man's part. How do we overcome this world view which in reality fuels the escalation of taxes and government regulations? The tax protest movement does not address the real roots of the problems today. Regeneration must take place first. The result of regeneration will be a love for freedom and self-responsibility. Jesus came to set men free.
From God's perspective our government is in a qualified sense de jure. If this is true, then not only should we pay taxes, we should recognize that the present government has been providentially established and continues in power by God's sovereignty. From man's perspective our government would appear to be a de facto government. We must endeavor to see things from God's perspective. Why? Because God is God and He is sovereign. In addition, God is the Creator and we are His creatures. The Christian is obligated to do the will of God. The doctrine of God's sovereignty does not mean that we resign ourselves to defeat. On the contrary, this doctrine gives us the theological basis for working all the harder for the cause of freedom, and if it pleases God, then perhaps He will grant us deliverance. The book of Judges tells of God's chastisements and the subsequent deliverance of His people.
The state is God's creation for good and order in society, and therefore has moral authority to do many things including the levying of taxes. Today, and at many times in history, the state has been an instrument of man's self-imposed slavery. Men sell themselves into slavery for the illusion of security. The rebuilding of society happens through the preaching of the gospel. The work of discipleship for a nation begins by teaching God's principles for all of life. This, and this alone, will reverse the trend towards socialism or the complete takeover by the federal government. As the Christian learns these principles he has a basis for speaking out against oppressive and unjust taxation. We must be actively engaged in fighting against the idolatry of statism and maintain a principled opposition against all forms of tyranny. For those who believe in the continual advancement of Christ's kingdom in history there is hope. We must press the claims of Christ's Lordship in every area of life including the state. Christ is indeed the Lord of the state.
End notes part three
20. David Hagopian, Esq. "Render To All What Is Due Them" in the Ordained Servant, (Carson, ND: Pleroma Press, 1995), Volume Four, Number Four, p. 80, 81.
21. Michael Paul Turi, "The Civil Order--A Covenantal View" in the Chalcedon Report, (Vallecito, CA: Calaveras Press, 1995), p. 16-19.
22. Devvy Kidd, Lecture given at Citizens For The Constitution, Denver, CO, 1995.
23. Rushdoony, Christianity And The State, p. 101.
Mr. Kettler is an ordained Presbyterian Elder and the owner of Undergroundnotes.com where his theological, philosophical and political articles can be read. He has worked in corporate America for over 25 years and is now realizing his dreams as a successful home business entrepreneur. Mr. Kettler can be reached through his business site at: http://www.internationalhomebusinessonline.com. Permission is hereby granted to reprint this article as long as my web site is retained in the biographical information.
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