“In this world nothing can be said to be certain,” wrote Benjamin Franklin, “except death and taxes.” For centuries, the faithful have said much about death, little about taxes. Yet, taxes support our common life as a society. The Abrahamic faith traditions have much to say on this issue, and some of it will surprise you. See how Jewish, Christian and Muslim people of faith read their sacred texts and what they say morally about taxation.
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"Sacred Texts, Social Duty" features interviews with nearly two dozen people of faith—congregational leaders, academicians and tax experts. Christians, Jews and Muslims speak candidly about what their sacred texts and religious traditions say about taxation and how their moral teachings apply to contemporary taxes.
Wayne Flynt, Pulitzer-Prize nominee, Baptist minister and professor emeritus at Auburn University;
Daniel Isaak, rabbi at Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, Ore.;
Ammar Amonette, imam at the Islamic Center of Virginia in Richmond;
Ralph Martire, executive director of the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability in Chicago;
Mark Knutson, pastor, Augustana Lutheran Church in Portland, Ore.; and
Margaret M. Mitchell, dean of the University of Chicago Divinity School.
The filmmakers follow key leaders in four states -- Virginia, Alabama, Illinois and Oregon -- where the fiscal and moral implications of tax policy come into sharp focus.
Virginia has slashed education spending. Alabama has raised its threshold for taxing low-income citizens. Illinois has a deficit that’s half of the entire state budget. And Oregon voters passed two measures in early 2010 raising taxes on individuals and corporations.
And all this is happening without much moral reflection on taxation from houses of faith.
“During my lifetime I’ve never heard a sermon from the pulpit that’s advocated for a good tax policy,” says Tami Sober, assistant director at the Virginia Education Association, in the documentary.
It’s a recurring sentiment in communities of faith across the country: Moral teachings and taxation are seldom connected in pulpits.
“Sacred Texts, Social Duty” will challenge that dynamic and call viewers to think about the relationship between faith and taxes.