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Yesterday began a three-day jury trial that will decide whether an Oregon man can get out of paying his taxes… because he’s a Christian.

Michael Bowman hasn’t filed a tax return or paid taxes since 1999 on grounds that the money would be used to support abortions, which he opposes.

“A woman has the right to choose, but apparently, the prosecutor feels I do not have a right to choose,” Bowman wrote [in a court filing].

To be clear, federal dollars don’t fund abortions (except in rare circumstances like saving a woman’s life). If a group like Planned Parenthood gets money from the government, it’s reimbursement for non-abortion procedures. Furthermore, courts have already ruled that religious objections aren’t an acceptable excuse for not paying taxes (otherwise, a lot of people would find religion real fast).

Just because you don’t agree with where your money goes doesn’t mean you can avoid paying taxes. Hell, right now, there are all sorts of reasons to despise the government. It doesn’t mean you get to skip your taxes.

It’s a form of Christian privilege that Bowman thinks his faith can override those rules.

So was his attempt to beat the system. In 2012, the Oregon Department of Revenue began taking money directly from his bank account. So Bowman decided to cash all his work checks and leave the bare minimum in his bank account… which the government said was felony tax evasion. But a judge let that slide, saying Bowman was allowed to use his bank account however he wants.

Still, that left four counts against him directly dealing with his not paying taxes.

That’s what the jury began hearing yesterday:

While Bowman’s abortion-related objection to filing income tax returns appears to be unique, the religious defense isn’t and hasn’t been successful when used by others. Case law has held that the government’s right to collect taxes trumps any religious objection or antiwar activist objection to paying taxes to support national defense.

But [Bowman’s attorney Matthew] Schindler argued that the case hinges on Bowman’s intent.

“The belief doesn’t have to be reasonable. It doesn’t have to be based on a correct understanding of the law. It’s about what is in his heart and his mind,” he argued.

Give the lawyer some credit: Even he admits Bowman isn’t necessarily reasonable or correct. But just because you feel strongly about an issue doesn’t mean you get to break the law without suffering the consequences. His religious belief is completely irrelevant here.

Being a Christian isn’t a Get Out of Taxes Free card. He’s not a religious martyr. He’s a freeloader who’s using Christianity as justification. He deserves to be punished.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link. Large portions of this article were published earlier)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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