I’m getting sick of the recent meme going around asking the rhetorical question, “Surely Jesus commanded us to help the poor. What kind of Christian nation is this really if we don’t do that?” It’s considered a “gotcha” when critiquing the tea party stance on paying taxes. Surely good Christians (and the Tea Party and Republicans in general are overwhelmingly Christian) shouldn’t object to helping the poor. In fact, their resistance to paying taxes proves that they really don’t give a shit about the poor. Using Christian’s duty to help the poor is trying to be used to paint the entire tax resistance movement as heartless hypocrites that are only interested in their own money and inexplicably invested in rich people keeping all of theirs too.
The first thing that comes to my mind is how odd it is that every left leaning person automatically equates taxes with charity. They act as if paying taxes is the same thing as donating to the Red Cross. Never mind that a considerable portion of those taxes go towards wars and other things that the left is supposedly against. Incredible incarceration rates of blacks? Done by the government. Deporting Mexican workers? That’s the government. The ongoing futile war on people getting high and relieving their pain? Guess who? The biggest outrages committed against poor people, minorities, and people spread across the world are funded by your tax dollars either directly or through proxies. Never mind all of the bailouts and handouts to corporations and other types of legal graft that our taxes contribute to. Nope, it’s all about charity! What would Jesus think of that?
I can’t speak for all Christians, but here’s this Christian’s view on Jesus and taxes. Yes, Jesus did tell us to take care of the poor, the weak, and the imprisoned. Funnily enough he didn’t mention that the government was the only way to do that. Taxes? He did say something about taxes… I’m going to paraphrase here, but He said something along the lines of, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and render unto God what is God’s.” The bottom line? When you pay taxes, you are paying for Caesar’s ambition, Caesar’s wars, Caesar’s folly. If Caesar helps the poor, that’s a bonus, but remember, you are supporting not only Constantine, but Caligula. You have to pay taxes regardless of who is in power, but we are always capable of helping the poor on our own.