Randall Terry, a prominent American anti-abortion activist, has penned an op-ed for Catholic Online in which he makes the case that Catholics should read in the last Pope’s Evangelium Vitae a call for Catholics to refuse to fund abortions with their tax dollars.
As we pour our hearts and souls into the battle to keep the slaughter of the innocent by abortion out of any health care bill, the discussion has emerged as to whether it is an ethically viable option to refuse to pay part or all of our federal taxes.
Some well meaning souls have already — perhaps without much thought — repeated our Lord’s oft quoted statement: “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and unto God that which is God’s.”
The simple question is this: does this statement of our Lord apply in a situation like the present? If we know that Caesar is going to use the money to kill our neighbor — one of God’s children — are we required, by God Himself, to give the money to our political leaders?
I think the answer is self-evidently, “No!”
Following the trend of other recent conservative tax resistance promoters, Terry sticks to the passive voice and the hypothetical: going right up to the line at which he might have to say “and so I’m going to stop paying my taxes” and then turning around and beating a safe retreat.
One possible approach to development aid [for poor countries in the current economic crisis] would be to apply effectively what is known as fiscal subsidiarity, allowing citizens to decide how to allocate a portion of the taxes they pay to the State. Provided it does not degenerate into the promotion of special interests, this can help to stimulate forms of welfare solidarity from below, with obvious benefits in the area of solidarity for development as well.
The cynic in me can’t help but notice that in those countries I know of that have “fiscal subsidiarity” as part of their income tax filing schemes, the Catholic Church is an explicit line-item beneficiary.