It’s Sunday, so it’s time for a parable:
Winston Bloot was a pious man, who also had a sharp business acumen. One Sunday after church services, his minister took him aside for a heart-to-heart.
“Winston, I’ve been examining the records, and it appears you haven’t tithed at all since the first of the year. Has there been some sort of mistake?” inquired Reverend Nosyparker.
“Perhaps on your part, because indeed, I have been tithing.” Winston growled passionately, piercing the reverend’s skull with a gimlet eye. “However, it is true I’ve left no envelopes in the collection plate since the first of the year.”
The reverend scratched his head, cuing further explanation.
“You see, Reverend, I’ve been calculating my taxes. Last year I paid an effective tax rate of 29% of my total income. That comes to roughly $29,000, because my total income last year was about $100,000. This includes self-employment tax and everything.
“Over the prior year I also donated 10% of my income to this church, which worked out to about $10,000. Thus, the total amount I paid out to the causes of church and state last year was $39,000, or 39% of my income. However according to the Bible and all the fine sermons you deliver, the tithing rate is only 10%. Thus I over-tithed by 29%, or $29,000, last year.
“My conclusion, Reverend, is that God owes me a refund of $29,000.”
The reverend shook his head vigorously. “No, no, that’s not true. In the Bible, Jesus said, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ The state tax and God’s tax are two different things.”
“But don’t all people, including Caesar, belong to God? So if I render to Caesar, or in these days, Obama, haven’t I rendered to God?”
The reverend was defeated. He could continue to sermonize, argle-bargle, shame, and make many different cases and points. But his experience with other non-tithing parishioners told him that he wouldn’t be able to convince brother Bloot of the error of his ways. They all stood firmly by their casuist rationalizations. This is why men and women of the cloth usually struggle to make ends meet. It’s very hard to compete with government taxation.
The best he could do was continue to get up every Sunday morning and deliver sermons about the evils of liberalism, and promote conservative candidates who promised to shrink the size of government.
Small government means more money available for tithing. And it means less money going toward government programs that confute the teachings of the Bible. Such as scientific research.
Small government means the needy would have to turn to religious organizations for their charity. This would increase the membership and power of the church.
Reverend Nosyparker seems to be part of a sunset industry, valiantly but vainly struggling against the government. Tithing has decreased to historic lows in America. Church attendance has declined precipitously. The common charity these days is government, and the prevalent religion is science. This can be good or bad, depending on your perspective.
But if you’re paying at least 10% of your income in taxes, and tithing above that, perhaps you’re over-tithing.
And perhaps God owes you a refund.