Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Faith and Taxes

A recent article in the New York Times described the views of a tax professor in Alabama who also has a degree in religious studies and has published articles making the argument that tax
policies that are not progressive violate Judeo-Christian values. Johnston, David Kay, "Professor Cites Bible in Faulting Tax Policies" (New York Times 12/25/2007).

For those who might be interested in reading her most comprehensive article, see Hamill, Susan Pace, "An Evaluation of Federal Tax Policy Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics," 25 Va. Tax Rev. 671 (Winter 2006). (More information about Prof. Hamill and her writings can be found at

The law review article is written in a dryly academic style, but I found it to be very comforting
and exciting to read, for a number of reasons.

First, it shows that there are still people who take faith seriously. Not "seriously" in the gay-bashing, defend-against-an-alleged-war-on-Christmas, or put-the-10-Commandments-in-the-courthouse kind of way, but in a "what does it mean to love your neighbor" and "what should we be doing to improve the lives of others" kind of way.

The article also made a number of statements which were consistent with my beliefs, and so provided me with some assurance that perhaps I wasn't as much on the fringe as I often feel.

In that way, the article was also comforting because it provided evidence that a liberal Quaker like myself can find common ground with conservative evangelical (which is how Professor Hamill is described). (That a desire for social justice should unite liberal and conservative Christians was also one of the themes of Marcus Borg's book, The Heart of Christianity, which is highly recommended.)

Finally, the article was comforting because it gave me hope that, if we can all think and talk more about our values, and think less about our own pocketbooks, maybe we can achieve some real progressive tax reforms and social welfare reforms (such as universal health care)