It is likely this editor is perceived as being “more conservative” than some of his readers. I do not subscribe to adjectives preceding “conservative.” There are no varying degrees of conservatism. A person is either conservative or they are not.
Conservatives believe in absolute truth. We do not subscribe to so-called “gray areas” and that truth is relative. The secular, liberal news media’s infatuation with life’s perceived dilemmas is hooey, a ploy to sell newspapers and promote a relativistic view of reality.
Such sophisticated sophistry is humbly dismissed when one’s view of reality is based on the Bible. An intensifying intolerance by liberals and secularists toward a biblical view of reality is not surprising. Jesus said His followers must “take up our cross,” meaning there will be burdens and that the Christian life is one of sacrifice and service.
As Nancy Pearcey observes in her latest book, Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals & Meaning , “There is probably nothing that offends the modern
sensibilities more than the affirmation that the Bible is true in a unique, exclusive, universal sense.” Disdain for “gray areas,” relativism and perceived dilemmas is a core value held by conservatives.
Southern Baptists have been greatly influenced by conservatism. It is at the root of our opposition to government intrusiveness on one’s freedom of conscience, our promotion of pro-life laws and our support for traditional family values. Yet our worldview seems to be lacking on other issues.
For example, taxes is one area where Southern Baptists have been relatively quiet. We affirm Scripture’s directive to pay our taxes, but in a democratic republic like ours – where the people have a voice – we have not asserted ourselves over how taxation is implemented. Perhaps the time has come for Southern Baptists to break our silence on this issue.
The Missouri Catholic Conference is launching an advertising blitz, expressing its opposition to a proposed state sales tax that would replace the state’s income tax. Catholic leaders believe the poor, elderly and working class Missourians will pay higher taxes if the income tax is replaced with a sales tax. Supporters of the sales tax believe it will promote economic development and create jobs.
The Catholic ad campaign is being initiated because the Conference feels some Missourians might mistake the sales tax as a replacement for the federal income tax, which the Conference suspects is the real target of the public’s anger. I think Catholic suspicion is misplaced. Missourians look at their local property taxes in the wake of declining real estate value, the “hidden” taxes on their phone bills, at the gas pump and on their cable television statements and feel taxed to death. The increasing federal tax burden perpetrated on Americans over the past half century has contributed to the rise of the two-income family, forcing moms into the workforce because more of dad’s paycheck goes toward taxes. While we must be concerned about the impact taxes have on the poor and fixed-income citizens, we should also consider their consequences on working families. Who is raising the kids if mom and dad have to work multiple jobs just to pay their taxes?
The sales tax is scheduled for debate during this session of the General Assembly. There is considerable support for it in the House, and some think the Senate is less enthusiastic.
The issue may ultimately be put to the voters in the 2012 election. The Catholic Conference has already flooded the General Assembly with position papers opposing the sales tax. The Conference recently ran a full-page advertisement in the Catholic St. Louis Review aimed at educating parishioners why it is a bad idea. Missouri Southern Baptists, the state’s largest evangelical denomination, and Missouri Catholics do not always agree on political issues. Catholics are making-up their minds on tax policy. Southern Baptists had better.
The coming tax battle in Missouri is one for which Southern Baptists are unprepared. We should support sensible tax policies that help the poor and fixed-income citizens (although churches ought to carry more of that load), while strengthening the traditional family. A good place to start our preparation is on our knees.
DON HINKLE / editor