April 23, 2012
MICHAEL SWAN
THE CATHOLIC REGISTER

OAKVILLE, ONT. – The clergy have never been an outstanding revenue source for governments, yet some clergy are volunteering to pay more taxes.

Rabbi Stephen Wise of Shaarei-Beth El Congregation in Oakville, Ont., is forming Faith Leaders for Fair Taxation.

Modeled after Doctors for Fair Taxation and Lawyers for Fair Taxation, Wise wants to provide a platform for all clergy to ask governments to increase taxes.

People have to stop thinking of taxes as a dirty word, said Wise.

"I feel like there's a moral and ethical obligation to pay taxes. It creates a just society, an equitable society," he said.

Wise came up with the idea just as Holy Week and Passover were getting underway. He hasn't had a chance to reach out to Catholic priests, deacons and religious, and he's struggling to get www.faithleadersforfairtaxation.ca up on the Internet.

But he anticipates no problems in attracting Catholics and others to the cause.

Doctors for Fair Taxation has attracted 231 Canadian doctors. The Canadian Lawyers for Fair Taxation Facebook group has 330 members.

"When lawyers and doctors say they want to be taxed more, they actually make a lot of money," said Wise. "But I think we carry a lot of weight in saying we want to be part of this."

At least as far as the Abrahamic faiths are concerned, there should be no trouble persuading clergy to agitate for higher taxes, said Wise.

BIBLICAL INTERPRETATION

"It's sort of a biblical imperative to give a portion of what you make. Across Christian, Islamic and Jewish clergy I hope we can find a lot of common ground," he said.

Wise is clear that he's not asking his fellow clergy to take a political position.

"We're just saying that, across the board, we need to do better at helping those less fortunate and make sure that every budget, whoever is in power, should make that a priority."