Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rick Warren on Taxes

Pastor Chris Warren sent a tweet about the horrors of taxes:
Yesterday famed "Christian" pastor Rick Warren, wealthy author and megachurch leader, tweeted the following:

HALF of America pays NO taxes. Zero. So they're happy for tax rates to be raised on the other half that DOES pay any taxes.
After a firestorm ignited decrying this egregious mix of selfishness and ignorance, Mr. Warren deleted his tweet. But the screenshot is preserved for Internet eternity.
Warren confuses federal income taxes with all taxes. People who earn too little to pay federal income taxes still pay many other types of taxes, including payroll taxes.

But Warren's statement is interesting, even with that mistake. Is Warren saying that a man of God can also be a man of mammon in this country, despite the tremendous difficulty of finding anything to support that attitude in the biblical writings about Jesus?

All this may be more complicated:
Warren holds conservative theological views[7] and holds traditional evangelical views on social issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, and stem-cell research. Warren has called on churches worldwide to also focus their efforts on fighting poverty and disease, expanding educational opportunities for the marginalized, and caring for the environment. During the 2008 United States presidential election, Warren hosted the Civil Forum on The Presidency at his church with both presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Obama later sparked controversy when he asked Warren to give the invocation at the presidential inauguration in January 2009.
Warren's invocation may have been the first of the many compromises we have watched since then.

I'm still confused about Warren's values, as demonstrated by his tax comment. Perhaps he was simply uninformed of the characteristics of those who don't pay federal income taxes? Perhaps he thought that the half of tax payers not paying any are drawn out of some kind of demonic lottery, with no thought to the incomes of those people?

Or perhaps what he and others like him are arguing is something different: That social transfer payments should be decided by private individuals and their religious codes, not by the governments? First make the poor pay more taxes, then donate money to those poor you deem deserving or to those causes that agree with your own values?