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« Jesse Helms, but not Nancy Pelosi | Main | A ’self-inflicted wound’ »

December 19, 2006

A Scrooge of a bill

Offering Gina, it's time for another "Bah Humbug" award. Here's a vivid example of why reading the fine print is essential:

Earlier this year, a New York couple filed for bankruptcy. Under the 2005 bankruptcy “reforms” so-called, people at this couple’s income level are required to come up with a court-approved plan to partly repay their creditors. As part of the requirement, the couple listed their monthly expenses to determine how much they could afford to pay their creditors.

Among the expenses listed was $100 a month the couple tithed to their church. When the bankruptcy trustee objected that this wasn’t the kind of “reasonably necessary” expense the most recent “reforms” intended, the issue went before a federal bankruptcy judge.

In his ruling, Judge Robert Littlefield wrote that the 2005 “reforms” “effectively closed the door for debtors” like the New York couple from making charitable contributions. By “closing the door” the judge was referring to the ironic fact that prior to the 2005 “reforms,” regular contributions to churches and charities were specifically permitted under bankruptcy law.

It was the so-called “reforms” of 2005 that created what Littlefield called an “awkward, bifurcated Congressional framework which makes charitable giving easier for some debtors and not others.” Littlefield all but called on Congress to amend the law.

Well, so much for spiritual convictions, and so much for "separation of church and state." Read the rest of today's "BreakPoint" commentary, find out how you can remedy this problem, and share your thoughts here.

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Comments

David Cervera

If there's a silver lining, at least the judge didn't "legislate from the bench" and just strike down the law. He enforced the law as written even though he disagreed with it, and then called on the legislature to fix it. And looking at the commentary, that's just what the Senate is doing. A good example of the system working like it's supposed to.

CLH

David, I totally agree. That "Bah Humbug" award was intended for the bad bill, not the judge. Not only is this an example of why reading the fine print is essential, it is also an example that shows the problem isn't always "activist judges," but actually the wording of the laws passed in the first place, forcing judges to rule as they do. It's not necessarily "overzealous judges" that take away our freedom; we're (citizens, voters) handling that quite well all on our own.

Labri

Don't forget that Scripture -also- requires that the creditor forgive all unpaid debts on the 7th year, and that one "musn't take the millstone in surety for a debt" - you can't take away a person's means of earning a living, whether that be tools, communications, transportation, etc.

Labrialumn

Don't forget that Scripture -also- requires that the creditor forgive all unpaid debts on the 7th year, and that one "musn't take the millstone in surety for a debt" - you can't take away a person's means of earning a living, whether that be tools, communications, transportation, etc.

Jeff Danco

I'm not sure Larry Burkett, now with the Lord, would have agreed with Chuck. "Better not to make a vow than to make it and not keep it." Buying goods or services constitutes a vow to pay for them--expeditiously. How do we honor God when we break a vow to our fellow man to repay what we owe? And despite the cited statistics re: medical expenses and so forth, I have seen a lot of folks sink into bankrupcy because of plain old consumptive spending and impulsivity.

Anna

We are commanded to give of our first fruits and as we are prospered. If they're not breaking even they're not having any fruit and not prospering. Is it not a form of stealing for the church to demand their share when it actually belongs to the creditors?

Labri

Oh, one other fun thing from Scripture: It is a sin to charge interest. How many people, families, who are forced to declare bankruptcy could have paid were it not for usury?

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