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Wednesday, 10 October 2012

First they came for the Amish . . .

In an earlier post on the topic of Amish persecution, I wrote:
Increasing government regulation and a growing tax burden make it virtually impossible to stave off starvation following 19th century farming methods--and totally impossible were one to attempt a reprise of the 18th century.
There are a number of websites that provide a history of just one area in which the Amish have suffered persecution, that of refusing to submit to the Social Security safety net.

This website gives a timeline, showing how the government noose was gradually drawn around the Amish over the course of twenty years:
1937: Payments were directly garnished from paychecks and distributed for the first time. Initially there were no conflicts because it did not include farmers, and almost all Amish are farmers. Originally it was far from all inclusive.

1950: From inception there was debate, but it wasn’t until 1950 that domestic labor (household employees working at least two days a week for the same person) were added. At the same time nonprofit workers and the self-employed began to be included as well.

1954: Hotel workers, laundry workers, all agricultural workers, and state and local government employees were added. Although not all states elected to be included. (Derry Brownfield recalls working for the state of Missouri and not contributing to Social Security because the state had its own program) This is the start of the problem the Amish had with the program. It was unclear with the wording of the act whether it was a tax or an insurance, and was described as both at various points in the bill. The Amish community decided that it would not take part in the benefits (not believing in insurance) and therefore should not have to pay the premiums.
According to Amish beliefs, insurance is not needed and is disrespectful to God. They firmly believe in taking care of themselves, their neighbors, and the fact that God will provide.  When the Social Security Act was extended to include them (as farmers) in the 1950′s they immediately protested and refused to voluntarily pay. As a result of this protest the IRS began directly garnishing their bank accounts.
This website gives more details of the persecution:
As usually happens in these matters, it is one case that tends to catapult the situation into the public eye. That case would be the collection of payments from Valentine Byler, an Amish farmer living near New Wilmington, in western Pennsylvania. 
By 1959, Valentine Byler owed four years of IRS taxes. The IRS added the interest owed and came up with a total of $308.96.
Byler explained that his religion forbid paying insurance. When he was told that this was a mere technicality and that it was indeed a tax, he apparently replied, "Doesn’t the title say Old Age, Survivors and Disability Insurance?"
The IRS had tried to levy Valentine’s bank account, but he had none. In 1960, after refusing a summons to appear in court, he was cited for contempt and brought to the Pittsburgh U.S. District Court. According to a Reader’s Digest article, the judge "angrily demanded of the IRS agents, ‘Don’t you have anything better to do than to take a peaceful man off his farm and drag him into court?’ " The case was dismissed.
But the IRS was undaunted and, according to its own press release, this is what happened next on April 18, 1961...
Since Mr. Byler had no bank account against which to levy for the tax due, it was decided as a last desperate measure to resort to seizure and sale of personal property.
It was then determined that Mr. Byler had a total of six horses, so it was decided to seize three in order to satisfy the tax indebtedness. The three horses were sold May 1, 1961 at public auction for $460. Of this amount, $308.96 represented the tax due and $113.15 represented the expenses of the auction sale, including feed for the horses, leaving a surplus of $37.89 which was returned to the taxpayer.
The Byler case, like all others in the same category, presents an unpleasant and difficult task for the Internal Revenue Service... We have no other choice under the law.
Valentine was literally in his field with his team of horses doing some work prior to spring plowing when his horses were seized.  
Immediately after the seizure and sale, the Pittsburgh IRS Chief of Collections responded he was unaware of the plowing situation. "Plowing never occurred to me. I live in an apartment." He was furthermore quoted as saying, "We don’t ask people their race or religion when we administer the tax laws. People have no right to use their religion as an excuse not to pay taxes."
Notice that these same words are now being used to draw the noose, already drawn tight around the necks of the Amish, around the necks of every Christian organization with employee benefits, short of an actual congregation:
I was saying that according to CA state law, they have no right to use their religion as an excuse to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation (among other things.)
This, in regard to the 'right' of a lesbian couple to 'conceive' a child at the employer's expense.
"That person is not going to get on an airplane," Pistole said in response to a question from Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., on whether the TSA would provide exemptions for passengers whose religious beliefs do not allow them to go through a physically revealing body scan or be touched by screeners.
This, in regard to a person's right to modesty when using public air transportation.
For all intents and purposes, the Catholic Church is trying to claim exemption from a law passed for non-religious reasons with a religious excuse.
This specific line of thinking was actually shot down by the Supreme Court in 1990 . .  when the Supreme Court found that two Native-Americans could be fired from their jobs [with cause] for ingesting peyote, even though they did so for religious purposes. In other words, they could not use religion as an excuse to ingest peyote.
This, in regard to Congress' ability to restrict the free exercise of an ancient religion when it clashed with federal drug laws.

So, everything now being said about not being allowed to use religion as an excuse to actually practice one's religion in a newly illegal manner was already said about the Amish back in the 1950's. It took fines, confiscations, and even imprisonments before the Amish won back the free exercise of their religion which had been prohibited by Congress and lesser legislatures. It's important to note that these battles were won both legislatively (in the case of the Medicare Act) and judiciously (in the case of Wisconsin v. Yoder). But they were never secured until they were once lost, and those who exercised them nonetheless brutally punished.

In conclusion, therefore, those currently suing the federal government against enforcement of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act should learn a lesson from history: only after losing this initial round, and going through the entire process of petitioning for redress of grievances, losing the petition, and suffering for continuing the free exercise of their religion to the point that a public outcry forces either Congress or the Courts to retract, should they expect to be able to reattain the status quo.

But let them be forewarned: even the Amish continue to be drawn further into the Matrix, where the freedom to actually practice their religion becomes more and more of an illusion. To illustrate this, I must needs debunk information offered on this website:

I note here that even the author of "Do the Amish Pay Taxes?" has little clue of just how much has changed just since her information was current. For example:

The most obvious example is the building and maintaining of roads. The cost of this is paid for mainly through gas taxes, revenue from driver’s licenses, and money collected through tolls. While the Amish do not pay these consumption taxes, they do use roads and bridges to drive their horse and buggies on.

Au contraire. The Amish do pay gasoline taxes, not only directly for their generators, but indirectly through the hire of van drivers. Furthermore, they are increasingly saddled, on the state level, with the burden of paying commercial insurance on the vans their drivers use to carry them around. Needless to say, their drivers also pay all related tolls.

The Amish pay income tax just like the rest of us Englishmen (that’s what they call Americans who are not Amish), and they also take any qualifying Child Tax Credits worth up to $1,000 per child.

Ah, but this they are able to do only if they've enrolled their children in the Social Security system--the right to exemption therefrom having essentially lost only three decades after receiving it. And the tax credits were originally applicable only to the first one or two registered children--although that number has tended to increase in recent years as Congress concentrates on 'soaking the rich.'

The Amish do not collect unemployment, social security, or welfare benefits because doing so would be against their religious beliefs.

Yes, but. Amish cannot legally discriminate by religion, so some end up hiring non-Amish employees. They must pay Employment Tax on these, as well as serving as the Tax Man to garnish FICA 'contributions' from their pay. Furthermore, many Amish own stores, which in most cases requires them to collect sales taxes as well.

While some Amish make money from selling tobacco, they do not purchase cigarettes because they are viewed as ‘worldly’. This means that they do not pay taxes on cigarettes. Other ‘sin’ taxes not paid by the Amish are for alcohol. . . .

Well, it turns out that Amish youth--those not yet official members of the church--are in fact heavy users of both alcohol and tobacco. Joining the church doesn't automatically cure them of these addictions, either. So, the Amish community as a whole pays quite a bit into these tax funds.


  1. Nothing is ever as cut and dried as they appear.

  2. "The White Man" has been included in the A Sunday Drive for this week. I hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.

  3. It has. Thanks for the traffic, Mr. Beuterbaugh.


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