Friday, April 18, 2008

Paying for Something I Don't Believe In

This was the newsletter article I wrote for this week and didn't send:

What if you came to church on Sunday and heard me using me message time to disparage Jews and Muslims and to say that only those who are Christians are going to be saved? What if your children came back from Sunday School and told you they had learned that God created the earth in 6 days and it happened just a few thousand years ago?

How long would you continue to attend and contribute if the message we shared was in obvious conflict with the values we espouse as a religious community. Not very long, I would guess. I would hope.

So did you file your taxes this week? Did you think about this fundamental act of patriotism, paying taxes, in the same light as contributing at church?

When you look at the amount of social and political unrest around the world, it really is a remarkable thing that we live in a country where tens of millions of people willingly - if with some grumbling - make a regular financial contribution to the government. Every year. No force is required. We understand that there are penalties for cheating, of course, and we support compliance because we know that the taxes we pay provide services we all need and because we have a sense that we are supporting a country whose values are worthy of support.

But is this true today? Our taxes are supporting a government that launched an unprovoked war under false pretenses. A government that drew up a specious legal cover to justify torture of prisoners held with no legal rights. I must confess that it angers me a great deal to be contributing to the support of a government that is acting in ways contrary to its espoused values.

And then there is the money squandered. Estimates by the non-partisan Government Accounting Office suggest that the Iraq war will cost us in excess of a trillion dollars if it ends anytime soon. This is how our money is being spent. Can you imagine if the President or member of Congress had suggested in the aftermath of 9/11 that we ought to spend a trillion dollars over the next decade to rebuild our country's crumbling infrastructure, fix healthcare, end our reliance on foreign oil, and fund a global Marshal Plan around the world? The good that could have been done with this sum of money spent in a way congruent with our values.

Of course, any President or Congressional leader who proposed such a plan would likely have been derided for being totally unrealistic. And yet year after year billions after billions flows into Iraq. In the name of realism.

Sorry for this somewhat angry rant. I am deeply troubled contributing financially to something that I do not believe in and that is so obviously at odds with the best values of our country. I hope and pray that by next April 15 I will not feel the same.


ProgressiveChurchlady said...

If you look back one year ago, you will see that I said almost the same thing (but my post was shorter and less eliquent). This year we didn't have to write a check to the Fed. Govt. because we were "prepaid" so it wasn't as "in your face" as it was last year when I had to write and sign a check to the IRS. Still, they got our/my money and it is not being spent the way I want.

I still wish I could "line item veto" where my money was going (or not)!!! As far as I'm concerned, someone else can pay for this war. Not me, my spouse, or my children!

Anonymous said...

I for one will be a voice of discent when I cast my vote this year. Getting out the vote is key to change for the better.