Monday, September 7, 2009


James attended his church since he was young. He was surprised when the minister asked him to give a little over $5,000 to repair the homes of poor folks who were members. He usually gave around 10% of his income in donations and the $5,000 would double his typical yearly donation. He said he would have to think about it.

A month later, James's minister called him in and admonished him to contribute. James told the minister that he cared about the poor, but that the contribution would take all of his emergency savings. James was not sure that he could afford to sacrifice his family's security. The minister said that God wanted James to give and that he would be rewarded. James said he would put a check in the plate next Sunday.

James could not bring himself to donate that much money next Sunday. He had heard rumors at work that his job would be transferred to another state. He might have to move. He might be out of work. Even so, he felt ashamed not to have contributed.

The next day, two deacons visited James at his home. They asked for the check. James was alarmed--he was outraged. They left without a check.

That evening, the minister and five deacons showed up, packing guns. James wrote out the check. The minister warned him not to stop payment, or bad things might happen to the family. The minister reiterated that the money was for the poor in the church and that James was being charitable--doing the Lord's work.

The church is the government. The donation is a new tax, meant to help someone. The church in the story is only as unethical as the government is in real life.

Why do people who contribute a pittance voluntarily, from their own generosity, feel that it is right to force others to contribute? How can forced contributions be charitable?

If you have, borne with this screed, thank you. It has been building for a while.

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