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Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

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Christian charged with tax evasion after refusing to pay taxes which fund abortion

Fr. Mark Hodges Fr. Mark Hodges

PORTLAND, Oregon, December 15, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – A pro-life Christian is taking a stand against government-forced complicity in abortion by refusing to pay taxes until the government stops promoting the “murder of babies” with his income taxes.

Michael Bowman, 53, says that the free exercise of his sincerely held beliefs prohibits him from participating in any way with what he calls “child killing.”

Bowman has been charged with tax evasion. He maintains that he has not broken any laws.

"I don't believe I have broken any laws as I have a duty (and right) to protect my conscience and to 'practice' religion freely,'' he wrote in a declaration filed in court. "

"A woman has the right to choose but apparently the prosecutor feels I do not have a right to choose,'' he told the Portland federal court.

Bowman, a self-employed computer software developer, has claimed a conscientious objection to funding abortions since 1997. He has asked both state and federal authorities to exempt him from the portion of taxes that support abortion.

The government issued liens, garnished his bank account (until he began cashing his checks instead of depositing them), and finally filed criminal charges in February. A federal grand jury indicted him this month on one count of evasion of income tax and four counts of willful failure to file returns.

Bowman’s lawyer, attorney Matthew Schindler, motioned the court to dismiss the charges.  

“He wants to pay taxes but until the government stops promoting the murder of babies with his income taxes, he cannot pay,” Schindler explained. “The very moment, the instant that his money is no longer being used to promote murder, he will gladly pay every cent he owes to the government.”

The case rests on the Constitution’s free exercise clause and on the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). The RFRA is designed to stop government intrusion into citizens’ living their beliefs.  

The RFRA specifically bans substantially burdening religious life unless there is a “compelling government interest,” and even then, allows government intrusion only through the “least restrictive means.”

Schindler says there is no “compelling government interest” in supporting abortion. “There is simply no argument that the federal government cannot exist without funding Planned Parenthood,” the attorney wrote.

Bowman recorded his side of the story in a video called “My Defense” and sent it to government officials.  

“If I am guilty of anything, it is living in a manner designed to keep ‘my conscience’ clean while ‘practicing religion’ in a manner that is fitting to my conscience and acceptable to God Almighty,” Bowman wrote.

Historically, tax evasion even for religious reasons is illegal. “This is a losing claim,” Notre Dame Law School tax law professor Lloyd Mayer stated

“People don’t get to pick and choose which laws they can agree to,” former federal prosecutor Kent S. Robinson explained. In one example, a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision denied an Amish request to be exempt from Social Security taxes, even though such taxes are against their beliefs.

The issue is not a new one. During the brutal Roman occupation, Jewish leaders asked Jesus, “Is it lawful to pay taxes to Caesar or not?  Should we pay them, or should we not?”

Jesus, knowing full well how Roman taxes were used to oppress people and prop up an evil regime, answered, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:14-17, cf. Romans 13:6-7).  

Oregon is one of the most pro-abortion states in the union, with unrestricted abortion-on-demand for any reason all the way up to due date.  The state’s radical Reproductive Health Equity Act, passed in August, also requires insurers to pay for free abortions and abortifacient contraception.  The act even uses tax dollars to abort non-citizens’ children.

 

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