06 October 2012

Uncommon Commentary #291: And You Thought that the IRS Makes Mistakes Only on Your Case

A 1954 amendment to the Internal Revenue Service tax code states that tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, are “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office.” As so often is true, the IRS is in the wrong. Certainly clergy ought to avoid preaching on matters that have nothing to do with religion, but candidates for public office often take ungodly positions on religious or ethical issues, forcing them into the political sphere. It certainly is a prerogative and a duty for pastors to give their charges moral instruction, and that includes instructing them not to elect politicians who, for instance, espouse the legality of induced abortion, which is the greatest evil not only of our time but of all time. (Even if such a politician should hold a commendable position on every other issue, anyone who wants to call himself a Christian must vote against him; Right and Wrong outweigh all other considerations.) When the Western World was much more truly Christian than it is now, the prerogative and duty of ministers of God to get political in some circumstances did not have to be exercised as often as it does currently, but in recent decades it was done by at least one man who has been canonized as a saint: Padre Pio told his parishioners, from the pulpit, to vote against the Communists.
That 1954 amendment therefore ought to be either greatly modified or abolished, but instituting a flat tax, i.e., a system of taxation in which everyone would render the same proportion of his income to the Treasury, would enable us to fulfil every Columbian's dream of abolishing the IRS itself. An economist writing in National Review in the early 1990's recommended setting the universal rate at 17 percent, but I favor 10 percent, if only on a scriptural basis; if that quota satisfies God Almighty, why couldn't it do for Uncle Sam?