Bishop’s Blog Sunday 7th March 2010
There are two words which David Cameron has heard too much this week for his own good: Lord and Ashcroft.
Not surprisingly, as a Christian, I am very happy with the first word! However, like the Conservative party, though may be for different reasons, I would prefer not to have it associated quite so much with “Ashcroft”.
The questions around who promised what to whom and when may fascinate some people, but my reflections on this week’s issue take me in a different direction.
Firstly, how often do we reflect on the vast amount of good that our taxation system does? None of us (probably) likes paying taxes but we do pay them, and they are absolutely vital. The money we give from our earnings funds all the crucial parts of our social systems: health, education, police, transport, armed forces, energy, and so on. Without these our society, as we know it, would collapse.
But also our taxes help close the gap between richest and poorest. There is new evidence to suggest that the countries which have more equal societies almost always do better. Taxes help bring that about.
And then I find myself reflecting, in the light of the allegations around Lord Ashcroft’s tax affairs, for the need for each of us to be fully honest. We can find ourselves very good at criticizing “someone out there” for what they are doing, or what we think they are doing, and not at all good at looking in the mirror at what we ourselves are doing that may be wrong.
My last thought this morning on the subject of taxes goes, not surprisingly. to Jesus’ words when someone was out to trick him and he said: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s”. In other words, let us concentrate on the primary and most important task of doing all the things that God wants us to be doing, and then we shall realize how important it is also to pay our taxes fully.