January 2017 Church & State - January 2016

Indiana Man’s Religious Freedom Tax Argument Fails

  AU admin

An Indiana man is attempting to use the state’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) to defend himself in a tax evasion case against him – so far without success.

The Indianapolis Star reported that Rodney Tyms-Bey is arguing that RFRA protects him from paying state taxes and burdens him from exercising his religion freely. He owes Indiana $1,042.82.

Indiana’s RFRA was signed into law last year by current governor and vice president-elect Mike Pence, and since then, many people have made strange “religious freedom” arguments about it, including a case in which a mother unsuccessfully tried to employ it as a defense in a child-abuse case.

“When this law was signed, it opened up a whole new world of legal defense,” Matthew Gerber, Tyms-Bey’s defense attorney told the Star.

But Tyms-Bey isn’t having much luck in court so far. A trial court has already rejected this case, but he has filed an appeal.

Writing on “The Shield,” the blog of AU’s Protect Thy Neighbor website, Kate Perelman observed, “Religious freedom is, of course, a fundamental American value. It ensures we all are free to believe – or not – as we see fit. But it does not allow us to act on our beliefs if doing so harms the welfare and well-being of others.”

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