Render Unto Caesar

Render Unto Caesar
by David Atkins ("thereisnospoon")

Yesterday famed "Christian" pastor Rick Warren, wealthy author and megachurch leader, tweeted the following:

HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they're happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.
After a firestorm ignited decrying this egregious mix of selfishness and ignorance, Mr. Warren deleted his tweet. But the screenshot is preserved for Internet eternity.

It obviously doesn't bear repeating for the thousandth time that, in fact, poor people do pay all sorts of taxes: FICA, sales, social security and wide range of others. It is true that the federal income tax is progressive. But it is the exception rather than the rule. The poor and middle class in this country still pay a greater share of their overall income in taxes than do the wealthy, who pay a lower effective rate than the rest of us when all is said and done.

But it's one thing for a cigar-smoking businessman to make this argument. That would be tolerable from a certain point of view. But it's particularly galling coming from a man who considers himself a man of the cloth, and who has become quite wealthy partly off a megachurch business that pays no taxes itself. It would be more than a stretch to think that Jesus Christ would have advocated that the poor pay higher taxes at a time of record income inequality, so that the rich might feed more heartily from the trough. Also, have they genetically engineered tiny camels that can pass through needle's eyes yet? We're clearly going to need a lot of them when all these ultra-wealthy "Christians" shed this mortal coil.

Far be it from an agnostic deist like me to suggest that "Pastor" Warren brush up on his Bible, but Matthew 23:27-28 might be relevant here:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.