February 2nd, 2012
04:56 PM ET

What would Jesus tax?

NEW YORK(CNNMoney) - What Would Jesus ... Deduct?

President Obama offered a new line of reasoning for hiking taxes on the rich on Thursday, saying at the National Prayer Breakfast that his policy proposals are shaped by his religious beliefs.

Obama said that as a person who has been "extraordinarily blessed," he is willing to give up some of the tax breaks he enjoys because doing so makes economic, and religious sense.

"For me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that for unto whom much is given, much shall be required," Obama said, quoting the Gospel of Luke.

Obama wants to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire for the richest Americans, and he has embraced the idea that wealthy Americans should not be paying a lower effective tax rate than those in the middle or lower classes.

He has argued that those policies offer Americans a "fair shot" and increased equality, while implying that the policies favored by Republicans do not.

But the overt connection between religious beliefs and political policies is new.

"I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years," Obama said. "And I believe in God's command to love thy neighbor as thyself. I know a version of that golden rule is found in every major religion and every set of beliefs."

An administration official speaking on background told CNN that Obama viewed the speech as chance to explain his personal faith practices and to show "his desire to step in the gap for those who are vulnerable."

So what does the Bible say about taxes?

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Topics: Faith • Tax cuts

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soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. ARALE NORIMAKI

    If god is everywhere, why do people HAVE TO go to church? To give half their pay checks?

    February 2, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
    • Steveo

      To fellowship with and encourage each other! Not sure where you got that half paycheck thing from

      February 2, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
      • Mark

        So church is not about God at all? You have an all to human agenda there making Church serve man. Fellowship. . . place we can all hang with our homies and pick up chicks. Encourage each other . . . pep rally so we feel good about ourselves and our team. Seems to me God is but the excuse. Again, pretty recent idea . . . less than 50 years old, unless you count the traveling tent shows. Historically Church had but a single function, to gather together as a community to offer praise and sacrifice unto God and to perform the services He sanctions. It was never about what we got out of the deal.

        February 3, 2012 at 10:27 am |
      • Steveo

        Mark,

        You seem to want to pick on me today for some reason! Realize my answer was but partial! Yes, we gather together to corporately worship the Lord, we gather to fellowship together, we gather to encourage each other in this faith Journey! Slow down and take a deep breath!

        February 3, 2012 at 10:40 am |
      • Mark

        Don't take it personally, please. Yours was the most intriguing thread, and the closest to the subject matter of taxation. If I were to make a summation, it would be an overall criticism of the story itself. Obama made an uncharacteristic and gutsy argument, projecting first century theo-politics onto the 21st century political landscape . . . typically a GOP move. He got called on it, much the same the left has been calling out the right elsewhere. He is also getting called out by the right, which I find the more fascinating angle . . . a pot calling the kettle black sort of thing. In truth, the times Jesus lived bears no resemblance to our times, right down to our most basic tenets, and EVERYONE here is having a field day comparing apples to oranges. Fascinating!

        Again, do not take my using your thread as the vehicle personally. It was just the closest set of comments towar the subject matter.

        February 3, 2012 at 11:03 am |
      • Steveo

        I realize it is not personal just 2 strong and CIVIL opinions! I appreciate that !

        February 3, 2012 at 11:09 am |
  2. kingwassabi

    Another attempt by the Obama regime to use religion to justify big government.

    February 2, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Howard

      Obama acts liike he's the pro-Hispanic candidate, while he and Holder kill over 200 innocent Mexicans with their stupid, careless Fast and Furious policy.

      February 2, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
      • Trace

        Howard, a couple of points to your post...1) This isn't about fast and furious. Did you bother reading the article? Its about the teachings of Jesus and Christianity. 2) Fast and Furious was started under the Bush administration, though admitedly there were blunders...and I'm a democrat admitting the mistake. However, only the most cynical would believe that the mistakes were made just to make sure that innocent Mexicans die in the process.

        Now, I'm being nice as much as I can be to you on this particular post. And I'm going to attempt to be respectful in the future, because I know you and your party have "got absolutely nothing"...terrible messaging and terrible candidates. But don't push it dude. Keep it respectful, on topic and let's use facts. Have a good day.

        February 3, 2012 at 2:47 am |
  3. Michelle

    Mark 10:25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

    February 2, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
    • Steveo

      You should have quoted the complete thought:

      Mark 10:25-27
      New International Version (NIV)

      25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

      26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”

      27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

      WITH GOD ALL THING ARE POSSIBLE including the salvation of the rich! Context is everything!

      February 3, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
  4. Steveo

    Perhaps if folks actually read the bible and in context, they would know Jesus never engaged in politics. So, in short He would have taxed nothing or no one!

    February 2, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • Mark

      Steveo, IF you read the Bible in context, religion WAS politics. Historically the two walked hand in hand. When Jesus spoke of "rendering unto Caesar" he spoke in the context of an occupied nation required to follow two sets of conflicting laws, the trap avoided . . . "how can you condone a coin with an enemy's God's image on the surface."

      Separation of Church and State is our noble experiment. Don't project an 18th century concept onto first century Theo-political ideology.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:01 am |
      • Steveo

        To a point you are correct. Since the Romans were the political authority the ONLY power the Jewish leadership had was religious and even that was limited. That is the reason the had to seek Pilate's approval to cruify Jesus! In sayimg that who was the greatest challenge to Jesus? The Political (the Romans) or the Religious (Jewish leadership)?

        The question was who would Jesus tax? I stand by my answer NO ONE as Jesus NEVER confronted the poltical but he did confront the religious! Who brought that coin to Jesus? It was not the political (the Romans) but rather the religious (the Jews). I am projecting nothing but simply answering the question that was posed

        February 3, 2012 at 10:11 am |
      • Mark

        The religious, the Jews, WAS a political too. That is what you are missing. The center of the Jewish State was the Temple, which had authority over even the King. The "King" was a Roman installed puppet, hence not fully sanctioned . . .the reason for all of the unrest directed Herod's way. You are dealing with conflicting Theo-political systems, NOT religion v politics. And Jesus would not have condoned taxation, demanding rather a surrender of ALL property to the community to be distributed accordingly. I'd check Acts 5: 1-11. I'm already assuming you know of Jesus' word towards the affluent seeking to follow Him.

        February 3, 2012 at 10:38 am |
      • Steveo

        1. Acts 5:1-11 describes a VOLUNTARY re-distribution not one mandated or forced!
        2. I do know the meaning of the words of Jesus. Don't let what you own, own you! Jesus is concerned about the condition of the hearts of men whether rich, poor of middle class!
        3. You are right there was a mixture of political and religious as John the Baptist had a right to claim the office of priest as his father was a priest. But God has other plans for John.
        4. Even in saying all of that, it was the religious that was the Chief enemy of Christ! It was the teachers of the law! The Sanhedrin had little political power as they were an occupied nation!

        February 3, 2012 at 11:07 am |
      • Mark

        Agreed on most of your points, but the Acts 5 passage has always been problematic. While it can be argued as "voluntary" the punishment phase for those who did not surrender all makes it mandatory. Had it been voluntary, the two would not have been called out then struck dead for holding back. Personally, I think Petran Christianity, much like its leading Apostle tended to be more secular and social with Jesus' message, especially when you look at some of the Gnostic treatments of him. I suspect Luke, a Paulist, was tossing a jab at the Petrans insistence on economic communal living. Jesus, IMO took the position of seeking what is the most valuable worldy commodity then demanding its surrender. To the wealthy . . . money. To the militant . . .force. To the powerful . . . prestige. To the haughty . . . pride. If I were to carry His words to today in America, in which money buys all of the above and capitalism is our most prized commodity, I would see Jesus targeting capitalism itself. "Can't be a capitalist if you want to follow me . . . surrender all your holdings then we'll talk."

        February 3, 2012 at 11:32 am |
      • Steveo

        Mark,

        I appreciate the chat. I will say if you carefully and paryerfully read Acts 5 you will see the punishment was for lying! They lied about how much they sold their property for Read verse 8! There is nothing in Acts 5 that indicated giving was mandatory The bible says God loves a cheerful giver. How is one cheerful when giving is mandatory and not by choice?

        I will say the original question is bogus! Jesus taxed no one!

        I look at your last point: "Can't be a capitalist if you want to follow me . . . surrender all your holdings then we'll talk."

        Do you own home? Do you have a car, a televison,, a telephone, a computer?! Are you saying if you have STUFF you cannot be saved? I hope not because the Bible does not support that! What the bible condemns is greed and selfishness! It does not condemn owning stuff! We just have to be careful not to allow STUFF to own us!

        Do you realize even the poor and be greedy and selfish? In addition what definition of poor will we use? The American, the African? Many of the "poor" in America would be considered the rich in Africa!

        Abraham was rich, Kings David and Solomon were all rich. God did not condemn them for their riches. We are taken to task for what is in our hearts and not our bank accounts! And by American standards, I am NOT rich, not by a long shot!

        February 3, 2012 at 2:21 pm |
  5. implodedView

    Unto government too much is given for what is required. But maybe the President and his friends should show us what they mean by example.

    President Obama's aides owe $833,970 in back taxes. These other federal employees are delinquent as well:

    413 employees in the EPA who owe more than $19 million
    185 employees in the FDIC who owe more than $3 million
    5 employees in the US Tax Court who owe more than $62,508
    Total owed in back taxes by all federal employees $3.4 billion

    I believe Jesus also said, "Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar's."

    February 2, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
  6. Michelle

    "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick." – Luke 5:30-31

    February 2, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  7. Michelle

    "If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault ... if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector." – Matthew 18:15

    February 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  8. Michelle

    "The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: "God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector."
    - Luke 18:11

    February 2, 2012 at 6:51 pm |
  9. Michelle

    "They began to accuse him, saying, "We found this man perverting the nation, forbidding paying taxes to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king." – Luke 23:2

    February 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm |
  10. george of the jungle

    The repos bring up God and Jesus at the drop of a hat but let the President mention him and they go bonkers. When was the last time the president used religion king wise ass? You keep forgetting we are librals we actually care about the poor and giving everyone a fair shake. Is't that what you keep complaining about. Unlike the repo attitude of mine mine and only me Screw the invioument screw the poor, screw the elderly. Obama/Biden 2012

    February 2, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
  11. Patrick

    I find it funny that people actually believe that the rich should pay a lower rate of taxes then the poor / middle class. Someone with tens of millions of dollars in income only has to pay like 15% in taxes because most of the upper class income is in capital gains... whereas my dad makes about 100,000 a year supporting a family of 6 trying to pay off all of his student loans and helping put me through college pays like 35% in taxes.... How is that right? It should be the other way around at least.

    February 2, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Steveo

      Patrick,

      The LAW for interest income is 15%. Why didn't Congress change the law? Didn't change when Pelosi led the House, did not change when Rangle was in charge of the Was and Means Commitee (the Committee in charge of the tax code). Neither party cared to do anything about when they had the opportunity to make changes!

      15% is the LAW! Right, wrong, or whatever! The lack of Congressional action leads me to believe neither side cares!

      February 3, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  12. Dee

    Hey where are the rest of the comments, I saw some good ones on here, Who ever it was that made the comment about 24And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute?
    Matthew 17;
    25He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?

    26Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free.

    27Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money: that take, and give unto them for me and thee .

    February 2, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Ahmed

      Posted on Your are not worthless. You mean the world to omseone. You just need to find out who. And don't ever try to take your life ever you are loved by more people than you think.

      April 2, 2012 at 5:52 am |
  13. Michael R. Minor

    Tea party with God

    Some say god only speaks through special people.

    But I think a higher authority wanted me to pass this on and serve legal notice to the current powers that be today

    (GOD speaking) – As legal guardian of all unborn children

    It is hereby given notice to the living generation of lawmakers

    That the unborn

    are not responsible

    for any and all debts public, private, and future taxes by the generation currently alive

    for ever and ever.
    Amen

    Consider Yourself Served

    Sincerely,
    GOD

    COPYRIGHT 2010
    MICHAEL R. MINOR

    February 2, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
  14. Joey

    Democrats always say religion should not be in politics. They constantly hammer conservatives for it, yet when Obama does it, they're silent. I don't see any of the usual lefties posting in this thread.

    February 3, 2012 at 1:39 am |
    • Mark

      Framers of our Constitution said that too, but the religious today still refuse to grasp why. Keeping religion out of politics was not a testimony against religion, but a concession to all those who fled due to religious persecution. Consider this: you have a Puritan, an Anglican, a Quaker, a Catholic, and a Freemason sitting in the same room. If you pick one of those as the nationally sanctioned religion, what happens to all of the others? They already fled once, made a home for themselves here, fought for it. Now the Puritan get his religion sanctioned. Officially the Quaker is an outlaw, along with rest. Keep God out of government, and we don't have to worry about the wrong God's people knocking on our doors to arrest us. That simple.

      And no, I'm not particularly happy about Obama's choice of words, though I think the media is blowing it out of context. Sloppy speech is the realm of the GOP.

      February 3, 2012 at 10:13 am |
  15. Steve M

    "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's"

    And my father would add the problem is that Caesar thinks it is ALL his!

    I am left wondering what Jesus would say about our Caesar interpreting scripture to justify seizing wealth of which a good deal is being used to fight wars of occupation?

    February 3, 2012 at 2:38 am |
  16. Trace

    Joey, I'll try to be nice to you as well. This was the National Prayer Breakfast, and the president always attends (Rep or Democrat). How is it possible to keep religion of the the "National Prayer Breakfast" and by the very fact he's the president, politics would have to be involved given that's position, we the american people, have elected him.

    Like Howard, I'm trying to give you people a break because your party is a pityful. The Republican ideology is essentially no better than dog food these days. And your candidates are the butt of every joke. But its really difficult if you guys miss the obvious trying to constantly attack the president. Think about what we are talking about here "the National Prayer Breakfast" ....If you have any honor, please don't attack the president on this...it makes you look "not so smart" (see I didn't even call you a name) Have a good day

    February 3, 2012 at 2:53 am |
  17. dave

    render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and render to God the things that are God's

    February 3, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Steveo

      Exactly. The problem is some are elevating caesar to god like stature!

      February 3, 2012 at 9:18 am |
  18. jean2009

    The National Prayer Breakfast is a tradition that was started 60 years ago, Presidents have spoken at it since President Eisenhower. It is sponsored by the The Fellowship Foundation. President Obama has spoken at it each year, and attended the prayer breakfast as a Senator. It is held the first Thursday of February each year. The local D. C. Chapter is hosted by the House and Senate Prayer Groups.

    February 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm |