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The Ten Percent

by on April 15, 2010

I can thank the Tea Party for one thing; it reminded me that I want to tithe.  This slide on the Huffington Post slideshow was my reminder:

Gary Snow-Brine brought his family to Washington from Maine to participate in Tea Party protests, stopping at an event in Boston along the way. He brought with him a sign with the message: “God Only Requires 10%.”

Snow-Brine, a Baptist, said he always tithes 10 percent of his income to the church. And he said he’s always been annoyed that he has to pay more than that in federal taxes. He said he might have protested previous administrations if there had been a movement going on.

First of all, why does he tithe to the church? The tithe, which is traditionally ten percent, is a creation of the biblical (as opposed to modern) state of Israel. And yes, it went to the temple. But, at that point in history, the temple was a communal affair shared by everyone, and the temple didn’t keep the tithe. The tithe was only payed by those with excess income or produce, and if you were poor, instead of paying the tithe, you received the produce that the tithe made communal. So, Mr. Snow-Brine, why are you tithing to your church (as opposed to an entity that supports the entire community?

Second, in order to better understand why a tithe to a denominational church makes little sense, let’s consider the role of government. I’ve written about this before, and I will write again about the purpose and role of government. For better or for worse, in America we have a representational democracy (sort of), and the government – the representation of the collective – taxes us to pay for things we cannot provide ourselves, or that will improve the common welfare. Take, for example: defense, roads, education, farm subsidies, a common set of laws, set tariffs, and a whole host of other things. At one point (specifically, ancient Israel) the temple represented the common welfare and distributed tithe. Now that is the role of government.

Third, and thanks Gary Snow-Brine for allowing me to figure out where to write this, I’d like to make myself poorer by donating ten percent of my paycheck somewhere. That somewhere to me is not the government – they’ll get my taxes, if I ever work long enough in a year to have taxes to pay. I don’t need more defense, and if I tried to give my money to education it would just be swallowed up by paying for overhead lighting, or leaving the lights on all night long. I do want to give ten percent somewhere that will help the community. But, what do I mean by community? I DON’T KNOW. It could be Rohnert Park/Santa Rosa, it could be California, it could be the environmental community, it could be the whole world community. So, if you have suggestions of an organization that could use a few dollars to improve whichever community it’s trying to improve, let me know.

From → On the Dole

One Comment
  1. Ted permalink

    Baptist but more importantly a PROUD racist is Gary Snow-Brine.

    And here he is at the Boston Common at the end of the video.
    At the very end of the video you see the sign of the 12 year old daughter of
    Gary Snow-Brine software engineer Wells, Maine

    Sign his daughter held at Boston Common Tea Party Rally.
    Average Racist Right-Wing, Tea Bagger, Family

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