Mother Jones: In , you renounced your American citizenship to be a full-time Brit. Seems pretty extreme.
Terry Gilliam: Well, I don’t live there. I got tired of my taxes paying for exciting little wars around the world. Then I discovered that when I died, my wife would probably have to sell our house to pay for the taxes in America. The fact that Bush was there made it easier.
Mother Jones: Did you get any shit for your decision?
Terry Gilliam: Not really. It was very funny, ’cause you have to go down to the US Embassy and say, I want out, and then they counsel you and you go away for a month and think on it. And then you come back and they beg you to stay. Sorry!
Mother Jones: They counsel you? What do they say?
Terry Gilliam: Oh nothing, just, “We’re great friends! We love your work! Oh, don’t leave us!” Sorry!
Mother Jones: Is it true that they limit your movement?
Terry Gilliam: Oh yes, I’m on probation. I can’t be in America more than 30 days a year for 10 years.
Her evidence for this is remarks that James Dobson made on his
Focus on the Family radio show, and in something
called the “Manhattan Declaration.” Dobson responded to the possibility that
publicly-funded abortions might be part of the health care industry bill that
Congress is currently considering, by saying:
I don’t say this glibly at all.… Shirley and I will not be able to comply.
That is absolutely untenable to us, because it would make us participants in
the killing of babies, and we can’t and we won’t do that. Now I don’t know
where all of this is leading or what the implications of it are, but if we
have to pay ruinous fines, or have to go to prison, or even if we have to
leave this beloved country and spend the rest of our lives in exile, that’s
what we are prepared to do.
The Manhattan Declaration
calls on American Christians to stand up against abortion, gay marriage, and
laws that would prohibit right-wing Christians from discriminating against
gay people or from applying their pro-life viewpoints in the workplace.
Its call to civil disobedience is boldly but vaguely worded. Stanek thinks
it’s a clear call for tax resistance, but to me it is so imprecise in this
area that it isn’t really a call to action so much as enthusiastic bluster
(much the same as the International
People’s Declaration of Peace I panned back in September). But, anyway,
this is how the declaration concludes:
As Christians, we take seriously the Biblical admonition to respect and obey
those in authority. We believe in law and in the rule of law. We recognize
the duty to comply with laws whether we happen to like them or not, unless
the laws are gravely unjust or require those subject to them to do something
unjust or otherwise immoral. The biblical purpose of law is to preserve
order and serve justice and the common good; yet laws that are unjust — and
especially laws that purport to compel citizens to do what is unjust — undermine the common good, rather than serve it.
Going back to the earliest days of the church, Christians have refused to
compromise their proclamation of the gospel. In
Acts 4, Peter and John were ordered to stop
preaching. Their answer was, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in
God’s sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about
what we have seen and heard.” Through the centuries, Christianity has taught
that civil disobedience is not only permitted, but sometimes required. There
is no more eloquent defense of the rights and duties of religious conscience
than the one offered by Martin Luther King,
Jr., in his
Letter from a Birmingham Jail. Writing from an
explicitly Christian perspective, and citing Christian writers such as
Augustine and Aquinas, King taught that just laws elevate and ennoble human
beings because they are rooted in the moral law whose ultimate source is God
Himself. Unjust laws degrade human beings. Inasmuch as they can claim no
authority beyond sheer human will, they lack any power to bind in conscience.
King’s willingness to go to jail, rather than comply with legal injustice,
was exemplary and inspiring.
Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any
edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions,
embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other
anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless
immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or
refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and
immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly
render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render
to Caesar what is God’s.
I can certainly see how someone already inclined toward seeing tax resistance
as the next step in their anti-abortion activism might feel that this
statement supports their decision, but I have a hard time seeing the statement
as an unambiguous call for tax refusal. There’s nothing in the Declaration
site’s FAQ or What’s Next sections about taxes either.
Even Stanek herself never actually comes right out and says that she is
resisting taxes or plans to.