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"Religion, Politics, the Presidency: Commentary by a Mormon, an Evangelical, and an Orthodox Christian"

United States Constitution — Article VI:

"No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."

About Those Romney Tax Returns and That Tithing Thing

Posted by: Lowell Brown at 05:31 pm, January 24th 2012     —    1 Comment »

Lots of  taxes paid, lots of charitable donations

The Wall Street Journal summarizes the Romney tax returns.

John Kerry, by the way, paid his federal income taxes at a lower rate than Romney – 13.1%, as opposed to Romney’s 13.9%.  This was disclosed in the 2004 election cycle.  No one made an issue of  that.  Why not?

Tithing – what’s that all about, anyway?

A pretty good explanation of tithing by Buzzfeed’s McKay Coppins.

Romney addressed the matter himself on Fox News Sunday:

“If people want to discriminate against someone based upon their commitment to tithe, I’d be very surprised. This is a country that believes in the Bible. The Bible speaks about providing tithes and offerings. I made a commitment to my church a long, long time ago that I would give 10 percent of my income to the church. And I followed through on that commitment,” he said.

“Hopefully, as people look at various individuals running for president, they’d be pleased with someone who made a promise to God and kept that promise. So, if I had given less than 10 percent, then I think people would have had to look at me and say, hey, what’s wrong with you, fella, don’t you follow through on the promises?”

Brief explanatory note:  Faithful Mormons pay tithing at 10% of their annual increase.  Exactly how one pays, and how one computes that 10%, is seen in our faith as a matter between the tithepayer and God.

Hugh Hewitt’s take on Romney’s taxes and charitable giving is a must-read.  Excerpts:

Ann and Mitt Romney are wealthy, and Ann and Mitt Romney are generous.  Very generous.  And this is to be admired.

Much of their giving goes to their church, and Mormon culture is very generous not just to those struggling in the congregation, but to the community, the nation and the world.  A minute or so of googling finds this story from the days after Katrina, representative of how the Mormons respond to disasters, which noted that “[a]s of Sept. 13, 140 truckloads of commodities and supplies, about 5.6 million pounds or 2,800 tons had been shipped into affected areas; with thousands of LDS volunteers giving 9,204 manpower days helping 1,606 Church members and 3,226 people not of the LDS faith, according to Garry Flake, director of Church Emergency Response. In addition, some 3,500 volunteers served Sept. 10-11.”

All denominations of any size have their charitable arms, like Catholic Relief Services and Presbyterian Relief and Development Agency, but the culture of giving is deeply embedded in the LDS community and reflected in the Romney tax returns.  In addition to direct giving to their church, the Romneys have supported cystic fibrosis research and the United Way, but the bulk of their giving is to their church….

They are very generous people, which in turn suggests they are good people, and while good people don’t necessarily make good leaders, it is far less likely they will be indifferent to suffering or intentionally malicious in their politics.

This is quaint stuff, certain to fall on deaf ears among the bare knuckled blogging community and the self-righteous among the media elite.  But it ought to matter to some voters, especially values voters, even those of different denominations.

(Emphasis added.) We couldn’t have said that better.

I’ll add this:  Romney’s tax payments and his level of charitable giving should never be mentioned by any member of the news media, in any publication or forum (yes, even those ridiculous MSM-run debates) without equal attention being paid to the other candidates’ tax payments and level of charitable giving.  Fair is fair.

So who is the best candidate for an American of faith? I’d say Romney or Santorum, depending on which one’s politics best aligns with the religious voter’s views. What say our readers?

Some Additional  Notes On Taxes

John Hood at NRO notes that the 14% number is entirely misleading.

Romney’s real federal tax rate on his investment income was more than 40 percent (being conservative, after deductions and such), since the revenue stream was subject to both a personal tax rate and the corporate tax rate….state taxes would bring the effective income tax rate on Romney’s investment income to 50 percent or higher. Every time a reporter or opposing candidate tried to say Romney’s tax rate was 15 percent, a competent campaign would call them out for misleading the American people.

And, by the way, one might reasonably wonder why the pro-Obama forces are attacking Romney, not Gingrich, in Florida. Big Labor (SEIU-COPE. SEIU.org) has invested $$800,000 in Florida anti-Romney ads.  One of the ads is directed at Hispanics, in Spanish, claiming “Mitt Romney Has No Shame.”

Why, oh why, would Big Labor be attacking Romney, and not Gingrich? Is there some reason they want Romney knocked out of the race?

Then there’s that notion of simply being a good man

Rich Lowry at National Review has some hard things to say about Newt Gingrich, whom he calls “the Republican Clinton, except less lovable and more roguish.” Ouch.  Referring to the now-famous John King incident in the final South Carolina debate:

Only one other politician in America could have played the victim card so expertly when confronted by the story of a wronged woman. Only one other politician would have thrown out so many obfuscating “facts,” or turned his lavish anger on and off so quickly. Only one other politician would have dared hope to turn such an embarrassing imbroglio to his advantage. If he was watching the debate somewhere, Bill Clinton must have chuckled in admiration and thought, “Well played, my friend. Well played.”

Newt is the Republican Clinton — shameless, needy, hopelessly egotistical. The two former adversaries and tentative partners have largely the same set of faults and talents. They are self-indulgent, prone to disregard rules inconvenient to them, and consumed by ambition. They are glib, knowledgeable, and imaginative. They are baby boomers who hadn’t fully grown up even when they occupied two of the most powerful offices in the land.

My friends, this matters.  What kind of a man we elect matters.  Bill Clinton did incalculable damage to our culture.  I recall, for example, having to explain to my then 8 year-old son what oral sex is — because of the President of the United States’ actions.  Do we want another man with a history of flexible morality serving in that office?  Yes, Gingrich says he has changed — has repented, in effect.  Well, I love redemption and forgiveness as much as the next believer in Christ, but I don’t necessarily believe that the redeemed person should be placed in a position of trust – and no office on earth involves greater trust than the American presidency.

And finally….

Jennifer Rubin asks. “Why Gingrich?” Read the whole thing.

And Dennis Prager, in Evangelicals and Romney , argues that “America’s survival is more important than one’s views of Mormonism.”  His best line:

In other words, fight the Left now. You can fight theology later.

Amen to that, Brother Prager.

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