The power to tax is the power to destroy. So said John Marshall, fourth Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Folks like to bring up the non-existent “separation of church and state”, but the truth is, our current situation is exactly what the founders sought to avoid. For those unaware of this important little detail, nowhere in the Constitution will you ever find the phrase “separation of church and state.” What you will find is the phrase “nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof’” tucked neatly into the First Amendment. The significance of that is the difference in life and death to the Republic.
The ability of the IRS (via income taxes – which need to be abolished for numerous reasons) to control what religious institutions say is tantamount to state control of religion. The problem is the method of taxation – income. Abolish the IRS, go to a consumption based tax scheme and voila, non-profit status doesn’t matter.
Folks aren’t taxed on giving money away, or saving, or anything that doesn’t involve buying things with the money they’ve earned. What does this mean for churches and religious institutions? Simple, the term “non-profit” is a thing of the past and the fear of losing that designation no longer cripples them behind the pulpit, nor hangs like a club over their free exercise of their religion as they see fit. The ability of the IRS to tax donors for the money they donate is the choke chain on the church, the short hairs of the special interest groups – it is the power to destroy the free association of those individuals that make up that group.
This is perhaps the most pressing reason why the IRS must be abolished and a consumption tax instated as the means through which revenue is raised. The most pressing reason is not that income taxes are legislated theft of what one produces with one’s life (although they are), it is that income taxes are the silencer of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Income taxes are the state inserting itself into the very thing the first settlers to this continent risked life, limb and hardship to gain: the free exercise of religion. Churches are not free to say what they want, on the topics they want, in the way that the religious dictates of their spirit demand. Nay, the IRS hangs like a guillotine over their heads, threatening to cut them off from their life blood – and so, in the face of such certain destruction, they are cowed into silence by the very government intrusion they are supposed to be protected from.
Abolish the IRS. End the intrusion of the state into religious institutions and all other charities. And from the pulpit to the soap box, when folks are once again able to speak their minds free from the fear of reprisal from the tax man, let freedom ring!
Image: War in The Apotheosis of Washington; courtesy of Architect of the Capitol; public domain