Thursday, July 02, 2009

The SOA and Honduras Coup

It's a couple days late but if you've been following what has been going on in Honduras here is an article you should read. School of the Americas Graduate Led Honduras Coup. Here's a quote from the article by Jennifer Svetlik:
...over the past 60 years, the U.S. has meddled frequently in the affairs of Latin American governments to serve U.S. interests and has also trained over 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, psychological warfare and interrogation tactics at the School of the Americas (SOA)/WHINSEC located at Ft. Benning, Georgia. Many of these graduates have been convicted of human and civil rights abuses against their own people upon returning to their home countries. President Obama must acknowledge the link between our nation’s history and the current realities in Latin America. If Obama wants to usher in a new era in Latin American relations, he should do all that he can to make sure that the SOA and other similar schools are closed.
I bet most people, including Christians, don't know that their tax money goes toward such things as the School of the Americas (SOA) which amounts to the equivalent of a terrorist training camp. Among all the other problems there are with taxes, one is that we don't get to choose which systems we support... the State does. This makes taxation a problematic issue for Christians. In the case of the SOA, it is at very least bad stewardship for Christians to support such training. Jesus said, "give unto Caesar that which is Caesar's" but do the lives and bodies of people belong to Caesar? What should our response be to these issues?

3 comments:

Nate Richey said...

You raise up an interesting point. Not even the Romans had the option to let you choose what to pay taxes for.

It's problematic because Christ never specified that we should pay only a portion of our taxes - he simply said "Render the things which are Caesar's, and render things to God which belong to God." That's not to mention you would get killed by the Romans if you refuse to pay the tax collectors.

Romans themselves were the Powers. They required you to do things which compromised your beliefs (such as idolatry) - and if you didn't do those things, you would be put to death.

The USA does things that some/many Christians would have a problem with. I'm not sure if refusing to pay taxes would be biblical or Christ-like. I think in this sense, it's best to play it safe and pay taxes, just in case it would go against Christ's teaching to refuse to pay taxes.

What I can say is if one is drafted in a war (or any other government service) that goes against your beliefs in what Christ stands for - refuse it! Even if you will be sent to state/federal prison for it, stand up to the Powers, and say why you can't.

WES ELLIS said...

Nate,
Good thoughts! I don't know if it's really "playing it safe" to just pay your taxes... paying taxes toward oppression wouldn't seem so "safe" to the oppressed. I don't know what we should do in the meantime but the best response would be to change what our government uses our tax money on (since we live in a democratic system and we theoretically have that power). Jesus' statement, "Give unto God what is God's" should challenge what we spend our taxes on because when we pay taxes toward a government which seeks to own people we risk endorsing their claim and we risk giving to Caesar what really belongs to God. I heard it said, "When you give to God what is God's there's not much left for Caesar." We need to keep that tension as we think about these things.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Nate Richey said...

Sure, no problem. Perhaps we should leave it as a tension. And perhaps it was because of this passage about rendering to God and to Caesar, I've always believed it to mean to pay your taxes.

Even when Christ was told to pay the temple tax (and I know it was only the temple, not the government), Christ paid the temple tax by taking a coin from a fish (Matthew 17), but yet he was against the corruption of the temple by cheating others. On top of that he paid 4 drachmas instead of the required 2!

I don't know - Romans 13 says to be subject (not necessarily means submit) to government because the authorities have been established by God, but yet Revelation 13 refers to a current or future government of the time as being controlled by the Beast (aka - Satan, the devil).

Perhaps discussion in an open forum is warranted before action is taken. After all, individuals would not be listened to as much as a body of believers - the Church.

I don't condone to break tax laws. However, if you want further action taken, find a consensus among a large group of the Church, and find a representative to talk to Obama. Ask him for a way for tax money not to be used this way.

But before doing all this - pray for God to grant you wisdom.