TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, March 9, 2006

Tax Scholar: Bush Is An Atheist

We previously have blogged Susan Pace Hamill's forthcoming article arguing that President's Bush tax policy violates Judeo-Christian ethics, An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics, 25 Va. Tax Rev. ___ (2006), as well as a critique by E. Frank Stephenson, An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics: A Rejoinder, 36 Cumb. L. Rev. 103 (2006).

Susan's Alabama colleague Dan Filler weighs in with a provocatively titled post, Tax Scholar: Bush Is An Atheist:

In her new paper, ... she argues that:

the moral values driving the Bush Administration's tax policy decisions reflect objectivist ethics, a form of atheism that exalts individual property rights over all other moral considerations. Given their overwhelming adherence to Christianity and Judaism, I conclude that President Bush, many members of Congress and many Americans are not meeting the moral obligations of their faiths.

Powerful stuff! Susan joined the Alabama faculty as a tax scholar in the mid-1990's. About five years ago, on sabbatical, she pursued graduate work at Samford University's Beeson Divinity School - not exactly a hotbed of liberalism. These recent pieces reflect a marriage of scholarship with personal passion. Not surprisingly, people from many perspectives can find ways to disagree with Susan. On the other hand, she exemplifies a professor who believes her scholarship must have practical consequences. I have tremendous admiration for both her work and the way she has chosen to structure her professional life.

Is Bush an atheist? Who'd have thought you'd read the Virginia Tax Review to find out.

Scholarship | Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Tax Scholar: Bush Is An Atheist:

» George Bush is an Atheist from The Alablawg
Tax Prof Blog has more coverage, as well as links to her previous work, and scholarly (as opposed to 'oh yeah, well you favor abortion')responses. [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 9, 2006 12:15:27 PM


This is such a vanity piece by a deranged academic. The books of Exodus and Leviticus are stuffed with detailed commandments relating to property rights, sales, contracts etc. This is balanced, of course, with items such as a Jubilee year as a redistributionist gesture.

The author is just plain ignorant, and is letting her political passions drive her "scholarship".

The Virginia Law Review is clearly out of fresh ideas. How about an update on Gregry V. Helvering, or Lucas v. Earle, instead?

Posted by: Bruce Kowal, CPA | Mar 9, 2006 1:52:59 PM

Forgive me but could you guys be more insulting to Atheists? Why do you seem to assume that atheism leads to the types of policies that Bush has implemented? Atheists are probably more moral than most people because we've taken the time to analyze things and know as a species we can do better. The next time you're tempted to use the word 'atheist' in a sentence, insert one of the following, Jew, Muslim, Christian, etc. instead to see how it sounds. If you can't say what you want to say about one of these groups, don't include atheists.

Posted by: Robert Herrick | Mar 9, 2006 7:08:26 PM

The real problem here is that Filler twists what Hamill is getting at by saying that it means Bush is an atheist. It is one thing to charge that Bush is not meeting his ethical obligations as a Christian (and a highly debatable one at that), it is another to extrapolate from there that this makes Bush an atheist. Christian ethics has long acknowledged that Christians may fail ethically while still believing in God. I don't see anywhere in Hamill's summary that she thinks this means Bush is an atheist, rather that he is acting on the basis of false ethical beliefs.

Posted by: David | Mar 9, 2006 8:30:46 PM

thats demented. simply because bush tax policy dosn't match christian tax policy (a assesetion that makes little sense by itself) and is therefore bad its considered to be 'athiest'. that seems a little like a straw man...

besides its contradictary.

athiests are probably by and large more left of center and therefore not likey to support a busheque tax policy. those most likley to, in fact, are right wing christians.

furthermore, as another reader alluded to, athiesism, in current society as it is a considered position when one ascribes themselves to it, is hardly one that embraces rabid individualism. quite the contrary infact.

Posted by: Justin | Mar 10, 2006 8:31:21 AM

"The books of Exodus and Leviticus are stuffed with detailed commandments relating to property rights, sales, contracts etc." Including
the rights of slave owners and the right
of fathers to sell their daughters into

It was Jesus who taught that one cannot
serve both God and Mammon.

Posted by: Captain Video | Mar 11, 2006 1:24:30 AM

I thought atheism was where one does not believe that there is an omnipotent being that created all of time and universe.

This author is just plain ignorant. She should first learn the subject that she wishes to discuss.

As an atheist, I'm offended that she would not even have the brains to first research atheism.

Just because Bush isn't following his "moral obligations to his faith" doesn't mean he is an atheist.

I am appalled.

Posted by: Allen Gilbert | Jul 7, 2006 9:21:46 AM