Short response to Afamasaga’s long-winded piece

Dear Editor

Re: Taxes, church, govt and Ned 

Afamasaga, you’re bound to win this round, again for wordiness rather than lucidity, reason or honesty in you defense of the practice of taxation.

I’ll be brief. Anyone who says Jesus told his followers or his questioners to pay Caesar’s tax, is guilty of distorting the words of Jesus recorded in the Bible. “Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar” clearly does not mean, “Pay Caesar’s tax out of your own possessions.” 

In fact, it makes Jesus words a clear endorsement of its unavoidable corollary, “If you have nothing of Caesar’s in your possession, you must give him nothing.”

All tax laws include enforcement provisions. They are not paid voluntarily. 

They are paid under threat of punishment by many means up to and including death if one vigorously resists. 

That is true in the U.S., and I am willing to bet it is true in Samoa. It is this need for force, violence and/or coercion to collect taxes that makes it safe to presume it was pacifistic Jesus’ reason for opposing Caesar’s tax.

How do we know he opposed all taxes and taxation itself? 

Because no tax collector can adhere to the principles Jesus prescribed as the way of righteous living to his followers.

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 7:12) ‘”Do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) No tax collector taking money by force from his neighbor wants his neighbor to do the same to him.

Nor can someone collecting taxes by force or coercion pretend to be practicing what Jesus called the second greatest commandment. In Matthew 19:19, Mark 12:31, Luke 10:27, is this: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” No tax collector employing force, violence or coercion to take his neighbors’ property can be said to love that neighbor.” If everyone adhered to Jesus’ principles, there would be no such thing as taxes.

And it was with those same words of Jesus that Paul signaled to Jesus’ disciples that his remarks in Romans 13:1-7 were to be taken ironically. For his words immediately following belie the words preceding: “ Love your neighbor as yourself. Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fullfilment of the law.”

My dear sir, if you love someone you do not tax them and force or coerce them to pay. Jesus pointed this out in Matthew 17 when he asked Peter rhetorically about who tax takers taxed:

“When Peter came into the house, Jesus was the first to speak. ‘What do you think, Simon?’ he asked. ‘From whom do the kings of the earth collect duty and taxes – from their own children or from others?’ ‘From others,’ Peter answered. ‘Then the children are exempt,’ Jesus said to him. (Matthew 17:25-26)

Taxes are indistinguishable for extortion. If you can explain what makes taxes lawful but extortion a crime, I’d love to hear your explanation. (in 1000 words or less)

Your several disparaging remarks about me aren’t worthy of a response.


Ned Netterville 

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