Many people profess to be religious teachers and to be guiding others in the path ordained by the Creator. These people assure their followers that it is the Creator's wish that they should submit themselves to taxation from their secular leaders. These individuals are either unmitigated liars, or they are totally insane. If this allegation strikes you as being beyond the pale of reason, follow the logic of this discourse, and then decide for yourself whether or not it is justified.

A "spiritual master" of the tax-paying ilk would immediately respond to this charge by pointing out something which Jesus said, or did. For example, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's." (The "spiritual master" is likely to contend that Jesus was God. Whether or not Jesus was God is not the point in question at this time. However, since the "religious teacher" will recognize Jesus to be speaking the Will of the Creator, we may content ourselves with his words, and ignore, in this particular analysis, Jesus' personal rela- tionship to the Cosmos.)

Anyone willing to take the time to consult the 20th chapter of Luke, verses 20-26, and to exercise the mental effort necessary to reflect on what is written there, cannot help but realize that to simply say "render unto Caesar" is a monumental example of quoting out of context.

To begin with, the 20th verse quite clearly explains the motives of the men who asked the question: Pay taxes, or no? They didn't care one stale jelly bean whether Jesus felt it was correct or incorrect to pay taxes. Their only concern was to deliver him tothe authorities. And their question was a masterpiece of treachery. Glancing back to the nineteenth verse we notice that it was the religious leaders who put these fellows up to asking the question. Why? Because Jesus had been telling the followers of these "teachers" that they were nothing but a pack of liars, so they wanted to neutralize him. Now, if Jesus answered, "No, don't pay taxes," he would have been effectively and permanently liquidated by the Roman rulers for the crime of promoting sedition, and the worries of the "religious" establishment would have died with him. If Jesus had answered, "Yes, pay taxes," the ends of the "teachers" would have been served equally well because he would have been contradicting all the rest of his teachings. In contradicting himself Jesus would have become just what he was accusing the "teachers" of being, namely, a hypocrite, and thereby he would effectively have invalidated his credibility as a teacher.

How would he have been contradicting himself? If we ignore the fact that many people, for a wide variety of vested interests, have tried to convince others that Jesus' message was far too complicated for the average person to understand, the Truth of the matter ... that Jesus' message was exquisitely simple ... will become clear. Jesus was simply saying, God is first, and next is one's fellow Man. One cannot serve two masters, therefore one must decide to whom one will pay one's tribute.

Now, let's ask ourselves what Caesar purchased with his tax money. It's common knowledge that he bought himself chariots, fine clothes, fast horses, beautiful women, palaces, coliseums, gladiators, and ice from the Alps to make his sherbets. Those were all things for his own pleasure; nothing wrong with pleasure; which of us wants to deny another his small pleasures? BUT: also out of his tribute money Caesar bought Legionaires and, although like Mr. Weinberger, they were "just doing their job," Legionaires were hired killers. They may have had the most fashionable uniforms and most modern weapons of their day. For those who accept the premise that Might is Right, they may have been doing the correct thing. However, there is no escaping the fact that if they hadn't been practicing killers, Caesar couldn't have enjoyed Alpine sherbet in Rome. And if Caesar's sherbet tasted like strawberry, it was still the color of the blood which paid for it.

Jesus said, Moses told you not to kill. I'm telling you don't even be angry. He also said, if someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other. Having said these things, if he were to say, sure go ahead and pay the cercenaries' salaries, the religious "teachers" would have heckled Jesus right out of history.

Jesus was a fellow who believed in freedom. He once said, "Know the Truth, and the Truth will make you free." He certainly wasn't afraid of the authorities, or cowardly about death. Because if he had been, when the whole thing came to a head all he woud have had to do was to say to the governor: "No, sir, I didn't mean any of those thins I said. I was just kidding around." And Pilate would have let him go without crucifying him. But he backed up his freedom of speech with his life.

"Do we pay taxes? Yes, or no?"

Let's analyze his answer. A simple "Yes" or "No," aside from playing into the hands of the "teachers," would have deprived the questioners of making their own decision. When he said, "You cannot serve God and Mammon," Jesus didn't say who to serve; he left that decision to his listeners. That is freedom -- the ability to make a decision. Jesus never argued with people's decisions, the most he did was point out their inconsistencies. "Render unto God the things which are God's." What, we might ask ourselves, did Jesus consider to be the things which are God's?

We might quite logically assume that Jesus had read the Old Testament, since so many of the things he is credited with saying come, verbatim, from that source. There it is written: The Earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof. It seems difficult not to assume - allowing for his numerous references to vineyards, birds of the air, the One who controls the sun and the rain, the worthlessness of gold and worldly riches, and the like - that Jesus considered God to be the Creator and, therefore, the owner of the Earth. Assuming that Jesus did consider God to be the owner of the Earth, and everything over, on, and under it, what could he have been thinking when he said, "Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's"?

If we compare what is written concerning the same incident in the 22nd chapter of Matthew we find that the l6th verse ends with the command, "(You) teach the way of God in Truth, neither care you for any man, for you regard not the person of man." It seems obvious from his teachings that Jesus did have some concern for people, so the previous statement may seem a little confusing. However, if we recall that he often made distinction between the body and the spirit, the idea becomes a little clearer. Jesus' concern for the spirit was immense; his concern for the body, negligible. Jesus spoke of the hairs of the head, and the height of the body; how people had no control over these things. In view of this, and assuming Jesus taught that God was the Creator of men, one might well wonder whether Jesus considered even Caesar's person, or Caesar's image, to belong to Caesar, much less the gold and silver on which his image was struck.

Now we must ask ourselves: Is what has been said here both reasonable and logical? If we decide that it is, the the "religous teachers" referred to in the first paragraph are either (a) not in agreement with it, and hence in-sane (at odds with reason and logic); or (b) they are in agreement with it, but are intentionally misrepresenting it, and therefore are unmitigated liars.

Of course, any religious leader worth his collection plate would want to argue about some other verse (maybe Paul said something like: submit yourself to your authorities), but the same logic would apply.