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Self-professed “urban monastic” Evangelical Leftist Shane Claiborne has publicly announced his withholding 30 percent of his taxes to protest all U.S. defense spending. A strict pacifist who was in Baghdad in 2003 to protest the U.S. liberation of Iraq from Saddam Hussein, Claiborne is an icon for young evangelicals opposed to the American “empire.”
“While I am glad to contribute money to the common good and towards things that promote life and dignity, especially for the poor and most vulnerable people among us, I am deeply concerned that 30 percent of the federal budget goes towards military spending, with 117 billion going to support the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,” he explained in his recent letter to the IRS.
It’s not clear where Claiborne got the 30 percent figure. U.S. military spending in 2011, including Iraq and Afghanistan operations, is supposed to be about $671 billion out of an over $3.8 trillion budget. So the military will consume under 18 percent of federal spending. Maybe Claiborne is playing the usual game of excluding “entitlement” spending from the total.
Claiborne, who sports dreadlocks and a frequent hoodie, is a very popular lecturer and author among especially hip, young evangelicals. Operating a Philadelphia “Simple Way” commune in an impoverished neighborhood, he is understandably hailed for his concerns about the poor. But he evidently does not want the poor or anybody else protected from terrorism or foreign aggression. A pacifist absolutist, Claiborne represents the rising generation of neo-Anabaptists so popular today in America’s seminaries, where Utopian ideals often prevail over both reality and historic church teaching.
“My Christian faith and my human conscience require me to respectfully reserve the right not to kill, and to refrain from contributing money towards weapons and the military,” Claiborne told the IRS. He added that if the military’s share of deficit spending were included, he would have to withhold about half his taxes, once again exaggerating defense expenditures. “Entitlements” grab most of the federal budget, which the Left would prefer to ignore. Defense of life and liberty in a chaotic world evidently does not qualify as an “entitlement.”
Claiborne earnestly informed the IRS that he will donate 30% of his tax bill to a “recognized US nonprofit organization working to bring peace and reconciliation,” which he did not name. “My faith also compels me to submit to the governing authorities, which is why I am writing you respectfully and transparently here,” he added. “May we continue to build the world we dream of.”
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