TAXES AND THE RIGHTS OF CONSCIENCE
Lynn M. Stuter
March 28, 2003
We again approach that day dreaded by so many: April 15th, the deadline for filing tax returns with the Internal Revenue Service. There is growing sentiment amidst the people that the Sixteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is not only unconstitutional but was never ratified.
Thomas Jefferson, 1809:
"No provision in our Constitution ought to be dearer to man than that which protects the rights of conscience against the enterprise of civil authority."
Jefferson speaks of the "rights of conscience." What does that mean?
"Conscience: internal or self-knowledge, or judgment of right and wrong; or the faculty, power or principle within us, which decides on the lawfulness or unlawfulness of our own actions and affections, and instantly approves or condemns them." (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)
The rights of conscience, spoken of by Jefferson, is part of what is known as "natural law" or the "law of nature," defined by the eminent English jurist, Sir William Blackstone, as follows:
"Man...must necessarily be subject to the laws of his Creator... This will of his Maker is called the law of nature... This law of nature...is of course superior to any other... No human laws are of any validity, if contrary to this: and such of them as are valid derive all their force...from this original."
As evidenced by the wording of the Declaration of Independence, natural law is the ultimate source of not only that particular document but of the U.S. Constitution. Many claim the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution erects a "wall of separation" of church and state. Such is wholly inaccurate.
In this regard, Thomas Jefferson wrote:
"Man has been subjected by his Creator to the moral law, of which his feelings, or conscience as it is sometimes called, are the evidence with which his Creator has furnished him... The moral duties which exist between individual and individual in a state of nature, accompany them into a state of society...their Maker not having released them from those duties on their forming themselves into a nation."
In other words, just because the colonists formed a union of the several states, or the United States of America, does not mean they were, or the generations of Americans that followed them are, released by their Creator from natural law, the source of constitutional law, that must guide all men in the making of law to secure the rights of all men according to the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution. Jefferson makes it apparent that chief among the tenets of natural law are the rights of conscience.
From our Founding Father, James Madison:
"…a man's land, merchandise, or money is called his property…He (also) has a property of peculiar value in his religious opinions and in the profession and practice dictated by them…Government is instituted to protect property of every sort…Conscience is the most sacred of all property.
In the words of Roxanne Sitler, parent, researcher and author, in testimony before the Washington State Legislature in 1999:
"Here Madison is saying that your religious opinions are your property, they are your most sacred property, your conscience."
This brings us, then, to a clause found in most state constitutions, in one form or another, but all to the same effect:
"Absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship, shall be guaranteed to every individual, and no one shall be molested or disturbed in person or property on account of religion…" (Washington State Constitution, Article I, § 11)
To repeat, absolute freedom of conscience in all matters of religious sentiment, belief and worship. As stated before, how one views the world and the purpose of it is based on one's religious beliefs, one's world view, whether that world view is Christian, humanism, New Age, Muslim ... There is no such thing (if I may be grammatically incorrect for a moment) as religious neutrality. A religion will, in every instance, form the foundation of thought, belief, and conscience.
Quoting Thomas Jefferson again:
"To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical."
Here Jefferson speaks to the very heart of the rights or freedom of conscience. That man should be compelled to pay taxes (contributions of money) for the propagation of beliefs he finds abhorrent is a sin as well as tyranny. The failure of King George to acknowledge and abide this concept was one of the catalysts of the American Revolution.
Where are we today? People are paying taxes left and right. For what? Taxes fund a burgeoning government bureaucracy that far exceeds the authority given by the constitutions of the individual states and of the union of states. With the transformation to systems governance, taxes are funding the propagation of the beliefs of the religions of humanism and New Age. This should be abhorrent to those who are Christians.
Should any Christian be required to pay taxes to support the government schools that are based on religions abhorrent to their beliefs? No, they should not. Should any Christian be required to pay taxes to support a government which, in its very practice, violates their religious beliefs? No, they should not.
In the words of James Madison:
"The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the questions in precedents. They saw all the consequences of the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle. We revere this lesson too much, soon to forget it."
Christians have, within their means, the power to bring down the unconstitutional governments now in operation in the states and in the union of the several states. In the words of George Mason:
"The laws of nature are the laws of God, whose authority can be superseded by no power on earth. A legislature must not obstruct our obedience to Him, from whose punishment they cannot protect us. All human laws which contradict His laws we are in conscience bound to disobey."
Do Christians not commit a sin against God when they pay taxes that are used to propagate beliefs abhorrent to Him? Are Christians not duty bound to disobey the human laws which contradict His laws?
Is it time for another Boston Tea Party? Long since.
© 2003 Lynn M. Stuter - All Rights Reserved
Mother and wife, Stuter has spent the past ten years researching systems theory with a particular emphasis on education. She home schooled two daughters, now grown and on their own. She has worked with legislators, both state and federal, on issues pertaining to systems governance and education reform. She networks nationwide with other researchers and citizens concerned with the transformation of our nation. She has traveled the United States and lived overseas. Web site: www.learn-usa.com E-Mail: [email protected]