Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Taxation, Tyranny, and Theocracy: A Biblical Response to Susan Hamill

MythGary North, Taxation, Tyranny, and Theocracy: A Biblical Response to Susan Hamill, 14 J. Accounting, Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 331 (2013):

I respond to Prof. Hamill’s assertion that she is not recommending the exercise of theocratic power, as defined by Rev. Gregory Boyd. [Susan Pace Hamill (Alabama), Tax Policy Inside the Two Kingdoms, 14 J. Accounting, Ethics & Pub. Pol'y 1 (2013)]. She is in fact a theocrat in terms of Rev. Boyd’s definition. In two previous peer-reviewed articles [An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics, 25 Va. Tax Rev. 671 (2006); The Vast Injustice Perpetuated by State and Local Tax Policy, 37 Hofstra L. Rev. 117 (2008)], she has called on Christians to organize politically in order to re-stricture specific tax codes. She has said that Christians have the votes to do this: around 80% of the electorate. She has identified what the top federal tax bracket rate should be: 50%. This is in addition to state and local taxes. She has made this call to political action on the basis of a specific ethical system: Christianity. Her social outlook is consistent with a Protestant tradition known as the social gospel. She says that the Bible has provided Christians with the basis of tax reform. I agree entirely with her regarding the legitimacy of such a call to political action by Christians. But I do disagree with the biblical texts she uses to argue her case. I use the Bible’s tax texts, plus the Mosaic text that affirms the rule of law (Exodus 12:49) and also the text mandating the equal application of justice, irrespective of wealth (Leviticus 19:15).

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But if I don't accept the authority of the Bible, or your reading of it, what effect should this have on my thinking?

Posted by: michael livingston | Jun 19, 2013 5:56:13 AM

North misreads Hamill and cherry picks his religious texts.

Posted by: David Cay Johnston | Jun 19, 2013 9:11:54 AM

North's article is about meta-ethics, and, more specifically, on how liberal Christians and theonomists like himself both say Christians should use their personal religious beliefs to decide what laws to impose on non-Christians:

“She says that the Bible offers us a blueprint for civil law. “The Holy Bible contains the blueprint establishing the standards of justice under the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics. The foundation of the biblical blueprint defining justice is the creation account in the Book of Genesis, which reveals God to be the only supreme being and the sole creator of all humankind in his image.” ...

But here is her problem. It is a major problem. I am a theocrat. I am known as a theocrat. I am reviled as a theocrat. And at the heart of my position is an affirmation of the Bible as the source of social, political, and economic blueprints. Yet in her 2013 article, she denies being a theocrat. She denies it for 58 pages. This is very curious. …

If the Bible offers a blueprint for taxation, as she says it does, and she then calls on Christians to vote for politicians who will create tax laws to implement this blueprint, then her strategy is the same as my strategy. She and I are debating only over the judicial content of the blueprint, not the strategy itself.”

Posted by: Eric Rasmusen | Jun 19, 2013 11:26:17 AM