14 May 2014

Fox News: Let the Church pay tax

John Moody is irked that the Supreme Pontiff of the Roman Catholic Church dared endorse "the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state" during a meeting last week with a United Nations delegation. Never mind that the adjective "legitimate" would seem to allow right-wing Catholics a lot of wiggle room to put ideological limits on what the state can do. As far as Moody, an executive editor and vice president at Fox News, is concerned, Mr. Bergoglio has declared his support for "forced redistribution" and by "grievously exceed[ing] his authority" has become "what amounts to a robe-wearing politician." Francis I also exposes the entire Catholic Church to charges of hypocrisy, Moody warns. The logic here is a little confusing. In his rage at the Pope, Moody suggests that the Church start paying tax voluntarily to the IRS despite their religious exemption from taxation. This is, to say the least, one of the last suggestions you'd expect to see on a Fox News website. Noting that the Vatican pays Italian taxes, Moody suggests that the Church could make a notable dent in the national budget deficit.

There is no doubt that the addition of tax revenue from the Church would be considerable, if hard to estimate. The 17,000-plus parishes may not all measure up to architectural wonders like St. Patrick’s in New York or the newer Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles. But few Catholic churches have absolutely no value. What would 39.5% of all that be? How could Francis, or his subordinates in the United States object to voluntarily turning over part of their vast revenue?

Moody goes on to suggest that, if Catholics care so much for the poor, the Vatican should sell all their art treasures and give the proceeds to charity. He even proposes selling some icons or sculptures to al-Qaeda, presuming that those notorious iconoclasts would pay richly for the privilege of smashing them. As you could tell from that, this opinion piece is more moody than humorous. I still don't get the hypocrisy thing. If Francis is a hypocrite, he became one whenever he exhorted anyone else to voluntarily give up some of their wealth to the poor. Now, however, Moody is calling Francis a hypocrite for not giving up wealth voluntarily (despite his own widely-reported spartan lifestyle compared to his predecessor) because he advocates (according to Moody) a "forced redistribution" of wealth. But in that case the Pope would be a hypocrite only (and then only by extension) if American Catholics actively resisted taxation. Taken on his own, Bergoglio is not a hypocrite on Moody's own evidence, so long as the Vatican pays taxes to Italy. Moody, however, is most likely a Republican  ideologue first and a Catholic second at best. He most likely views anyone as a hypocrite who tells anyone else to give to the poor without having bankrupted himself first. Moody, in typical Republican fashion, extols voluntary charity but assumes that its virtue resides not in its benefit but in its voluntary nature. Compulsory charity (i.e. taxes) is less virtuous, it would seem, not because there's less benefit to the poor -- that depends on how the money is spent, not on how it's acquired -- but because the man of wealth earns no spiritual brownie points through voluntary action. Odd that it's the Pope, not the Republican, who seems to realize that spiritual brownie points aren't the only things that matter in this discussion. Francis might still be called a hypocrite, however, but he could dodge the charge by saying what Moody wouldn't dare have him say: that the tax-exemption of all churches in the U.S. should end.


Anonymous said...

Let's talk "forced redistribution of wealth". Wealth, in this day and age, is primarily measured in a dollar amount (or whatever currency you accept). This currency does not create itself, nor do the wealthy print their own currency.

Their wealth is based, for the most part, by selling a product or a service. The creation and provision of those products and services is NOT done by the John Moodys of the world, they are created by working class people who are paid by people like John Moody. People like John Moody get to set the pay scale of the working class, so basically, if "redistribution of wealth" is a sin (or a crime), the biggest sinners and criminals are the capitalists who have most of the power and are the ones responsible for redistributing the wealth to themselves in the first place.

Anonymous said...

What the pope ought to do is just excommunicate Mr. Moody and his greedy, decidedly un-Christian ilk. Let them contemplate eternity in hell for their attitude.