Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

parents have? It is not my purpose to comprehensibly answer this question, but to focus on the one pertinent to this study. Parents are clearly made responsible for the education of their children. In Deuteronomy, Chapter 4, God calls attention to the fact that He has laid down statutes and judgments to be taught to His people. Verse 1 says, "AND now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform...." In verse 8 He says:

Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as
righteous as this whole law which I an setting before you today?
Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you
forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart
from your heart all the days of your life; but make them known to
your sons and your grandsons. Remember the day you stood before the
LORD your God at Horeb, when the LORD said to me, "Assemble the people
to Me, that I may let them hear My words so they may learn to fear Me
all the days they live on the earth, and that they may teach their
children." (NASV)

Before moving to the next passage I would like to point out that the principle of these verses is that what God has taught us, we are obligated to teach our children, and a result of our teaching must be that our children learn to fear, or reverence, God all their days. Then in Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, Moses points out that God has commanded him to teach the people to obey God's law. In verse 2 he says, "so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the LORD your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days might be prolonged." This responsibility to teach our children extends 24 hours a day. That is seen in verse 7 where it is said, "and you shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. And you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead." The symbology in the latter words indicates that the principles of God must be in the operation of our hand and in our mind. In Deuteronomy, Chapter 11, God again instructs His children in verse 18: "You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. And you shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up."

In Jeremiah 10:1-3 we read:

HEAR the word which the LORD speaks to you, O house of Israel. Thus
says the LORD, "Do not learn the way of the nations, And do not be ter-
rified by the signs of the heavens Although the nations are terrified by
them; For the customs of the peoples are delusion." (NASV)

The warning to God's people is that they should not learn the way of heathen nations who are governed by their mythology, astrology, and so. The delusions that lead the world are not to lead God's children.

In the New Testament in Ephesians 6:1-4 we read, "CHILDREN, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." Verse 4 reads, "And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger; but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." God's children are warned of their obligation in Colossians 2:8. "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ." Paul also instructs us in 2 Corinthians 10:5 that Christians should be "destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ." These passages teach us that parents have the responsibility, if they are under the authority of God, to teach their children from the time they get up in the morning until the time they go to bed at night, to love God with all heart, mind and soul, and to develop a world view, a philosophy of life, a commitment of life under God's authority rather than in accordance

with the philosophy of empty deception of the world, which is secularism, or according to the tradition of men, which is humanism. Christians are obligated to follow God's instructions concerning the education of their children.

This leads us to the next question, "What do we do if Caesar or civil government demands that we educate our children contrary to our faith, contrary to biblical principles, in accordance with the philosophy and empty deception of the world? Clearly if man gives us an instruction contrary to that of God, we must obey God rather than man. But also, we must draw the line at principle, not at the point of excessive violation of principle. The principle is that Christ is Lord or sovereign over His believers who cannot yield the responsibilities God has given them to the humanistic state. We must draw the line when the state steps out of its legitimate biblical bounds and asks that we accept its sovereignty rather than Christ's sovereignty over that which God has commanded us to do. The point at which the person is asked to go over his faith is a matter of individual conscience. Those Christians that do not see a challenge to their faith by the exercise of governmental control over the education of their children must make decisions in accordance with their conscience. Those of us who have seen God's clear commandment to us to raise our children in a way not generally done in the world, but in a way peculiar to those who adhere to His Word, must be willing to carry out God's instructions regardless of the cost. In fact, we must be willing to die for such convictions.

In the next section of this paper I will address in more precise terms why the levying of a tax is equivalent to an extension of government control over a religious ministry. If we grant, however, that both reason and history proves that taxation is in fact a means of control, then quite clearly, Christians cannot accept the imposition of a tax on a religious ministry. For Caesar to claim sovereignty over Christ is unacceptable to the Christian. We can see this issue in Christ's conduct before Caesar's representatives in John, Chapters 18 & 19. Assuming that the reader is familiar with those passages, let me simply point out a couple of key verses. In Chapter 19, verse 11, we find Christ's words to Pilate, "You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me up to you has the greater sin." Christ here is confirming God's sovereignty over all authorities and places a responsibility on Pilate for his exercise of authority. Those who delivered him up, of course, are also political authorities. He points out to him that their sin was even greater. In verse 12 we read, "As a result of this Pilate made efforts to release Him, but the Jews cried out, saying, 'If you release this Man, you are no friend of Caesar; every one who makes himself out to be a king opposes Caesar.'" And then we find the accusers' declaration of their sovereign in verse 15. "They therefore cried out, 'Away with Him, away with Him, crucify Him!' Pilate said to them, 'Shall I crucify your King?' The chief priests answered, 'We have no king but Caesar.in

What is the issue in Christ's crucifixion? The issue is, "Who is Lord?"

Why were believers sent to the lions in the first century? The issue is the same. They were unwilling to grant to Caesar sovereign authority over their religious exercise. They would not make a confession that Caesar is Lord. They insisted that Jesus is Lord. It would have been so easy for the principle of Roman religious toleration to grant then the liberty to worship Christ under the umbrella of Caesar's sovereignty. But they could not do that. They had to make a stand on the principle. And many were crucified or thrown to the lions for the stand they took. We should also take note of Paul's conflict with Jewish authority in Acts 19-27. Paul made his defense before Caesar's representatives and appealed to Caesar himself. He sought justice from Caesar for God has given to Caesar the responsibility to protect liberty and maintain justice. The definition of liberty and the criteria of Justice of course must be God's. As Paul stood before civil authority asking for justice, so do we today.

CONSTITUTIONAL PRINCIPLES:

It is not the purpose of this section to exhaustively deal with all the constitutional considerations involved in this case. We could, for example, discuss equal protection of the laws and due process of law considerations from the 14th Amendment, as well as a number of First Amendment considerations. We could also deal with the Florida Constitution. The purpose here, however, is simply to trace the main thread of the First Amendment argument that works with our biblical stand to provide a sufficient case that taxation of the RBCS ministry is contrary to the supreme law of the land.

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." This simple statement, composed of two clauses, is to prevent government from exercising control over religious affairs. If government exercises the tax power over religious ministries or activity, it operates on the principle that government may exercise control over religious ministries or activities. That this is true has been clearly established in history as well as in constitutional law. The court clearly sees the power to tax as the power to control and destroy.

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall clearly recognized this principle in M'Culloch vs. Maryland, 4 Wheaton 316 (1819). In that case the State of Maryland attempted to tax an instrumentality (a national bank) of the federal government. The first question Marshall dealt with in that case was, "Does Congress have the power to incorporate a bank?" Using the implied powers doctrine, Chief Justice Marshall concluded that the federal government did indeed have the power to establish or incorporate a bank. He then proceeded to inquire: "Whether the State of Maryland may, without violating the constitution, tax that branch?" In his consideration of that question, we get principles relevant to the tax power of any civil government. In M'Culloch, the Court held that the constitution sustains the claim that the bank is exempt from the power of a state to tax its operations. Let me quote a couple of excerpts from Chief Justice Marshall's opinion. He first points to a "great principle" that "the constitution and the laws made in pursuance thereof are supreme," and deduces from that principle three corollaries. These are: First, "that a power to create implies a power to preserve." Applying this to our RBCS case, that corollary would indicate that if citizens of the United States under religious freedom principles were at liberty to create religious institutions, then they have the power to preserve those institutions. The second corollary is "that a power to destroy, if wielded by a different hand, is hostile to, and incompatible with these powers to create and to preserve." Applying that corollary to the RBCS case, obviously if a power to destroy a legitimate religious ministry were exercised it would be incompatible with the First Amendment. The third corollary is "that where this repugnancy exists, that authority which is supreme must control, not yield to that over which it is supreme." He then observes : "That the power of taxing it (the bank) by the states may be exercised so as to destroy it, is too obvious to be denied." Clearly, this observation applies to religious ministries as well as banks. Chief Justice Marshall is telling us that the power to tax is an obvious power that can be used to destroy. His view has been confirmed by court decisions to this day. For example, in Murdock vs. Pennsylvania, 319 US 105, the court held a state license tax levied on religious colporteurs unconstitutional and said, "The power to tax the exercise of a privilege is the power to control or suppress its enjoyment." Is religious instruction a matter for control by civil government? As expressed by Mr. Justice Jackson, a state "cannot make public business of religious worship or instruction, or of attendance at religious institutions of any character." Everson vs. Board of Education, 330 US 1, at 26.

In M'Culloch, Chief Justice Marshall considered one of the objections that could be used to blunt a challenge to denying the tax power on such grounds. He states, "Taxation, it is said, does not necessarily and unavoidably destroy. To carry it to the excess

of destruction would be an abuse, to presune which, would banish that confidence which is essential to all government." Marshall's rejection of such argument is clear. He says, "But is this a case of confidence? Would the people of any one state trust those of another with a power to control the most insignificant operations of their state government? We know they would not." Applying this principle to our own case, we must admit that although a particular tax levied on a religious ministry may not in fact act to destroy that ministry is not argument to deny the tax power on the principle. A document quoted by Mr. Justice Douglas in his dissenting opinion, Waltz vs. Tax Commission, 397 US 664, at 721, reveals the attitude of our founding fathers on such issues. Some Virginians, objecting to a bill to tax the general public to support Christian teachers, said,

It is proper to take alarm at the first experiment on our liberties. We
hold this prudent jealousy to be the first duty of citizens, and one of
(the) noblest characteristics of the late Revolution. The freemen of
America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exer-
cise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the conse-
quences in the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying
the principle. We revere this lesson too much, soon to forget it. who
does not see that the same authority which can establish Christianity, in
exclusion of all other Religions, may establish with the same ease any
particular sect of Christians, in exclusion of all other Sects? That the
same authority which can force a citizen to contribute three pence only
of his property for the support of any one establishment, may force hin
to conform to any other establishment in all cases whatsoever? (at 721)

Have we forgotten this lesson? Many who have learned very little of America's Christian heritage may not have learned this lesson at all. Statist-humanist education has attempted to replace the principles of religious liberty and limited government with the old Roman concepts of religious toleration and the omnipotent state. So far, however, the court has continued to favor religious freedom from state control. In Waltz vs. Tax Commission, for example, the court upheld the State of New York's exemption of religious ministries from the property tax. In the course of Chief Justice Burger's opinion of the Court, he states:

The general principle deducible from the First Amendment and all that has
been said by the Court is this: that we will not tolerate either govern-
mentally established religion or governmental interference with religion.
Short of those expressly proscribed governmental acts there is room for
play in the joints productive of a benevolent neutrality which will per-
mit religious exercise to exist without sponsorship and without inter-
ference. (at 669)

Governments have not always been tolerant of religious activity, and hos-
tility toward religion has taken many shapes and forms - economic, pol-
itical, and sometimes harshly oppressive. Grants of exemption histor-
ically reflect the concern of authors of constitutions and statutes as to
the latent dangers inherent in the imposition of property taxes; exemp-
tion constitutes a reasonable and balanced attempt to guard against those
dangers. (at 673)

We must also be sure that the end result--the effect--is not an excessive
government entanglement with religion. The test is inescapably one of
degree. Either course, taxation of churches or exemption, occasions some
degree of involvement with religion. Elimination of exemption would tend
to expand the involvement of government by giving rise to tax valuation
of church property, tax liens, tax foreclosures, and the direct confron-
tations and conflicts that follow in the train of those legal processes.
Granting tax exemptions to churches necessarily operates to afford an in-
direct economic benefit and also gives to some, but yet a lesser, in-
volvement than taxing them. (674-675)

Our constitutional argument can now be easily summarized. The American equivalent to Caesar is the Constitution of the United States. All laws must be consistent with that constitution. The constitution commands federal officials that they cannot

constitutionally tax or otherwise exercise control over religious affairs. Notice that the First Amendment does not specify a church. In fact, if government were to restrict religious exercise to that performed by defined or approved churches, that would itself be a violation of the establishment clause. Should the government, for example, state that to truly enjoy free exercise in a Christian school, you must organize it in a certain approved way, government would be involved in establishing religion. Once the federal government says that only churches are legitimate institutions from which free exercise of religion may be made, they can define away any objectionable religious activity that doesn't meet the test of popular public policy. This is precisely what the establishment clause was written to prevent. Since the education of our children is a religious matter, carried out by a religious ministry, it is unlawful for civil government to entangle itself in the affairs of that ministry through the tax power or any other means. Therefore, in our particular case, both the Social Security Tax Act and the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, if drawn constitutionally, must exempt any legitimate religious ministry, to include conventionally organized churches and religious educational ministries such as our own.

« AnteriorContinuar »