Inauguration Day found me eating breakfast at a restaurant in Fort Wayne, Ind. My waitress was pretty upset about a congressional bill called the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA), written in 2007. This bill was on her mind, and protest was coming out of her mouth, because our soon-to-be-inaugurated president had previously pledged to throw the weight of the Oval Office behind FOCA: “I will continue to defend this right [to abortion] by passing the Freedom of Choice Act as president” (Barack Obama, from a statement released on the 35th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, Jan. 22, 2008).
I do not blame my waitress for feeling angry. Not only does FOCA remove certain bans on partial-birth abortions, but it also positions the Supreme Court to strike down any laws that currently prohibit the public funding of abortion. Specifically, FOCA will bar the government (at any level) from regulating “the provision of benefits, facilities, services, or information.” In other words, FOCA makes it impossible to prevent my waitress’s tax dollars, along with my tax dollars and your tax dollars, from being spent on abortion.
Expressing emotions that are probably shared by many of her fellow citizens, my waitress declared that she would rather go to jail than allow her tax dollars to fund abortion. Her indignation toward FOCA and its supporters is justified and fitting, but her response repays evil for evil. I also abhor the idea of tax dollars being spent on the destruction of children, but I will not be joining this dear lady in jail. I will continue to pay my taxes, despite my visceral opposition to abortion. Here are some reasons why:
Please do not misunderstand me: I do not advocate blind, unthinking allegiance to all governmental demands. I wholeheartedly believe that we must obey God rather than men. But the prophet Daniel was forced to serve Nebuchadnezzar’s government, complete with its idolatries. Daniel did everything required of him, short of denying the faith. In a similar way, Jesus paid the temple tax knowing that the money financed those who would see Him crucified.
Believe it or not, I used to enjoy paying my taxes. The simple ability to pay them has been cause for high praise and thanksgiving to the Triune God who created me. FOCA teaches me to look at my taxes as though they are now crosses that must be suffered: Lord, have mercy! The true cross of taxation will not be found in the monetary expense, but the heartbreak.
Rev. Erik J. Rottmann
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