By Nathan Barton
The good people over at the Acton Institute recently published an appeal from East Africa: “Don’t export Germany’s church tax to Africa.”
To which I add a hearty “Amen.”
The German system is not just a merger of church and state, but an affront to liberty and to the very religion (that of Christ Jesus) it supposedly supports.
Let me quote extensively from Ibrahim Anoba’s article:
Archbishop Cyprian Kizito Lwanga [of Kampala] has called on the government of Uganda to institute a compulsory “church tax,” modeled on the German system. “Catholics just pick whatever they get from their pockets and give it, but the tithe the Bible talks about means that you pay 10 percent of your monthly salary,” he said. And he wants the state to rectify this.
Under the German system, government officials deduct a tax from all registered members of religious communities, regardless of whether they attend services. This revenue funds religious leaders and institutions.
But this arrangement cannot be justified morally or biblically. While the majority of Uganda’s population – an estimated 85 percent – is Christian, this is no reason for the church to become another taxpayer-funded entity. Even God did not make payment of a tithe compulsory. The Apostle Paul instructed believers, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (II Corinthians 9:7).
Ibrahim is exactly right. Not only is it immoral to use theft (for that is what taxation is, at its heart) to support a church. It is clearly NOT authorized by the Bible, or by Christ’s example. Although He paid the temple tax (to avoid offending people, He said), He abolished the temple itself! And you may give whatever interpretation you like to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” But you can’t justify government stealing people’s money to pay to priests and pastors and other church hierarchs by that incident of the tribute coin.
I am somewhat familiar with Germany’s wicked system, which supports the two “state churches” of Germany: the Roman Catholic Church and the Evangelische Kirke im Deutschland (EKD). For people who are NOT members of one of the state churches (for example, they have converted to first-century christianity), they must go fill out a form that declares that they are “Non-confessing.” Otherwise, you pay 8-9% of your total income tax bill to the bureaucrats which pay it to the priests. As in the Dritte Reich (Third Reich), you wonder just who the priests and all work for. Is it God or the State?
Obviously, this African archbishop is attracted by the idea of a steady income for him and his priests. Rather than depending on the generosity of members of his church, he wants to get paid by the government, which in turn extorts the money from his church’s members. So who works for whom?
Here in the Fifty States, we have something similar, I am sad to say. While there are no formally organized (or unorganized) churches or other “officially” religious organizations that are supported by taxes stolen for that purpose, we do have:
- religious organizations – usually affiliated by churches – often receive federal, state, and local money (from taxes, of course) for providing social services, including various kinds of welfare, medical aid, and counseling.
- we have public schools and universities which teach a “non-religious religion” that includes evolution, atheism or agnosticism, and a healthy dose of state-worship, which of course are supported by public (tax) funds.
So, in the Fifty States, there is no way to claim to be “non-confessing” and get out of this religious tax: you may be a believer in God, the Bible, and Creation, and your own congregation may provide benevolence to your own members or others, but you will STILL pay taxes to support other religious groups and those who teach that your religion is a bunch of hogwash.
All courtesy of the government. Such fun!