Conservative ‘Christian’ Tries To Use The Hobby Lobby Defense To Avoid Paying Taxes

Since Hobby Lobby’s “Christian” owners won a Supreme Court case allowing them to deny their female employees contraception on religious grounds, conservatives across the country have tried to use the same defense to defy laws they feel violate their “deeply held” religious beliefs. Thus far, conservatives have mostly used this ridiculous defense to attack contraception, abortion, and gay rights. But now, a conservative “Christian” pastor is using the Hobby Lobby defense in an effort to escape paying $1.1 million in back taxes that he and his wife have owed the federal government for 20 years.

Two decades ago, Ronald Joling and his wife Dorothea decided to stop paying taxes because they believe the 16th Amendment is invalid, even though Americans approved it to be part of the Constitution in 1913. The 16th Amendment gives Congress the power to levy an income tax. As we all know, conservatives despise the income tax because they not only hate taxes in general, they want to neuter the federal government’s ability to take in revenue, therefore forcing the government to shrink to the point of being helpless.

Appearing in US District Court on Wednesday, the Joling’s attorney Mark Weintraub told the jury that while his clients are “totally wrong and unreasonable,” they only stooped paying their taxes in “good faith” because of the advice of “sovereign citizen” advisers and their own conservative “Christian” beliefs.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Cardani says he and his team have a strong case against the Jolings that will show “they knew what the law is and they just didn’t want to pay their fair share.”

Among the the schemes the Jolings attempted to escape paying their fair share included declaring themselves to no longer be US citizens and declaring their property in Oregon to no longer being part of the United States. In addition, The Register-Guard reports:

The couple allegedly set up numerous trusts into which they transferred the title from properties they had purchased and owned; deposited more than $110,000 into a “warehouse bank” in an attempt to hide the money; filed false tax returns and a fraudulent bankruptcy petition; and “besieged” the IRS with “nonsensical paperwork” in an attempt to harass federal officials.

In other words, the Jolings broke the law repeatedly and got caught so now they are trying to thwart justice by claiming that paying taxes violates their religious beliefs. If they were to win, this would be a conservative dream come true as government-hating right-wingers everywhere would be filing lawsuits to avoid paying their own taxes. The fact that we now have a Supreme Court that is willing to accept a religious rights defense for just about anything these days makes this more troubling.

Conservatives have been outright abusing the freedom of religion in a scheme to exempt themselves from having to follow laws that they don’t like and it needs to end permanently. Just like the Hobby Lobby case is wrong, this case is also wrong. The 16th Amendment was legally ratified by the American people and it requires US citizens to pay their taxes. And even the Bible says that Christians should pay their taxes. After all, Jesus did say “render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s.” One would think that a pastor would know what his own Bible says about Christians paying taxes.