A week or so ago I passed along a story about the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of New York’s interpretation of recent legislation to make it illegal for those filing for bankruptcy to tithe, except under very specific circumstances (here’s a good follow-up story).

Well, yesterday Religion Clause (which is, by the way, an excellent blog well worthy of bookmarking), noted that while the aforementioned case had received a great deal of attention, “an equally important case on the issue decided several weeks ago by the Second circuit seems to have gone largely unnoticed.”

In a case decided in late July,

the Second Circuit Court of Appeals held that treating some contributions to churches as fraudulent conveyances in bankruptcy does not violate the Free Exercise of Establishment clauses. It went on to interpret various provisions of the Religious Liberty and Charitable Donation Protection Act of 1998. It held that the statute’s shield for charitable donations of up to 15% of a debtor’s annual income applies to aggregate annual transfers, not to individual donations. The court held that in this case, the Church had waived its claim that it should be able to retain amounts donated to it under the 15% limit. Finally it held that on remand the church could raise the statutory defense that donations in excess of 15% “were consistent with the practices of the debtor in making charitable contributions.

Check out Religion Clause for the case details and relevant links.

Religion Clause, which is “devoted to legal and political developments in free exercise of religion and separation of church and state,” is run by Howard M. Friedman, Distinguished University Professor of Law Emeritus at the University of Toledo College of Law.


  • http://www.shouldthechurchteachtithing.com Russell Earl Kelly

    The churchgoer who is in bankruptcy should not be allowed to ignore his creditors and still tithe. That is unethical and a sin. Tithing is wrong anyway. It was only an Old Testament mandate for farmers and herdsmen in Israel. It was never mandated to the Church. And, if Malachi 3:10 really does work (and it does not for Christians) then the tithing churchgoer shoudl be blessed enough that he would not go into bankruptcy. See my essay and free book. Russell Earl Kelly, Ph. D.

  • http://yahoo.com willis

    russel said: The Numbers 31 passage is really 1% and .1% because it is 1/50th of one half and 1/500 of one half.

    my questio is: How can God parted the shares into two equal parts of 1/500 and 1/50? is there fairness? or you must have been dilluded by your wrong calculation?
    and you tried to show to your readers that the tithes can be compromised.
    is that really God’s plan to the people of israel.

    i studied throughly and i come up with my conlussions:

    As these verses stated:

    Numbers 31:25-31

    25 The LORD said to Moses,

    26 “You and Eleazar the priest and the family heads of the community are to count all the people and animals that were captured.

    27 Divide the spoils between the soldiers who took part in the battle and the rest of the community.

    28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the LORD one out of every five hundred, whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep or goats.

    29 Take this tribute from their half share and give it to Eleazar the priest as the Lord’s part.

    30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty, whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.”

    31 So Moses and Eleazar the priest did as the LORD commanded Moses.

    Let us analyze all of the statement above by answering the following questions that I prepared:

    Why did God divided the spoils into two parts?
    What is really the tithes requirement for these particular circumstances?

    In Numbers 18: 1-7

    1 The LORD said to Aaron, “You, your sons and your father’s family are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the sanctuary, and you and your sons alone are to bear the responsibility for offenses against the priesthood.

    2 Bring your fellow Levites from your ancestral tribe to join you and assist you when you and your sons minister before the Tent of the Testimony.

    3 They are to be responsible to you and are to perform all the duties of the Tent, but they must not go near the furnishings of the sanctuary or the altar, or both they and you will die.

    4 They are to join you and be responsible for the care of the Tent of Meeting—all the work at the Tent—and no one else may come near where you are.

    5 “You are to be responsible for the care of the sanctuary and the altar, so that wrath will not fall on the Israelites again.

    6 I myself have selected your fellow Levites from among the Israelites as a gift to you, dedicated to the LORD to do the work at the Tent of Meeting.

    7 But only you and your sons may serve as priests in connection with everything at the altar and inside the curtain. I am giving you the service of the priesthood as a gift. Anyone else who comes near the sanctuary must be put to death.”

    What do these verses wants to point out?

    Only the Priest and Levites were permitted for the care of the sanctuary.

    And the Levites whose duty is to collect the tithes from the people are the heads or the representative of the people for they were not permitted to go near the sanctuary.

    Since the Levites who collect the tithes from the people it is therefore the duty of the priest to collect a tenth part from the Levites. Let us read.

    Number 18:25-30

    25 The LORD said to Moses,

    26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.

    27 Your offering will be reckoned to you as grain from the threshing floor or juice from the winepress.

    28 In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest.

    29 You must present as the Lord’s portion THE BEST AND HOLIEST part of everything given to you.’

    30 “Say to the Levites: ‘When you present (The tithe for the Priest) the best part, it will be reckoned to you as the product of the threshing floor or the winepress.

    31 You and your households may eat the rest of it anywhere, for it is your wages for your work at the Tent of Meeting.

    32 By presenting the best part of it you will not be guilty in this matter; then you will not defile the holy offerings of the Israelites, and you will not die.

    …Whose tithe was considered as the best and holiest?…

    It was the tithe of the Priest. Read it for yourself

    … In this way you also will present an offering to the LORD from all the tithes you receive from the Israelites. From these tithes you (The Priest) must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest.

    …and…

    You (The Priest) must present as the Lord’s portion THE BEST AND HOLIEST part of everything given to you.

    By this reference we will interpret Numbers 31 if the tithes of the Lord have still been intact.

    Numbers 31:28 and 30

    28 From the soldiers who fought in the battle, set apart as tribute for the LORD one out of every five hundred (1 / 500), whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep or goats.

    …and…

    30 From the Israelites’ half, select one out of every fifty (1 / 50), whether persons, cattle, donkeys, sheep, goats or other animals. Give them to the Levites, who are responsible for the care of the Lord’s tabernacle.”

    So from the soldiers who tithe to the Priest would be 1 / 500,

    From the Israelite communities who tithe to Levites would be 1 / 50, by using the division method:

    Since the Priest had a right to collect from the Levites.
    Equation will be:

    1 / 500 / 1 / 50 = 50/500=1 / 10 or .1 or 10 percent which is the holiest tribute to the Lord.

    Has the Russell’s group failed to realize that the Lord is a wise accountant in dealing with the small number of spoils to be distributed in a vast number of people living in Israel?

    Has he ever known that only some part of the people in Israel were able to fight the Indianite?

    What composed the nation Israel according to these verses 28 and 30 of numbers 31?

    It is certainly the soldiers and the rest of the communities which were composed the nation Israel.

    We may assume also that the soldiers who took part in a battle, are considered soldiers of the living God and heads of the tribe of Israel which form a nation.

    But God is fair and will never neglect his care for the rest of the people.

    Draw a line like an X form. Place those four the said subject from starting point to the end point of the line like soldiers to the priest and Israelites to the Levites.

    After you’ve done this place those numeric values at intersection point. You will have an answer from the combination of the two fractions and it is a clear 10 percent which is considered the holiest tithe of God.

    The Soldiers paid their tithes Directly to the Priest bypassing the Levites
    While The Israelites paid their tithe to the Levites and ends there excluding the soldiers from paying their tithes. Which mean from the soldiers to the Priest there would be 3 X 10% to be paid to the Lord?

    As I have explained that the soldiers were the representative of the whole house of Israel that would mean the total war spoils to be accounted and subjected for the tithing scheme would be
    3 X 10%

    Numbers 18 scheme:

    The example given value to the Lord was 675
    The equation is 3 X 10%

    The solution would be
    675000 x .1 = 67500 (The soldiers tithe to the Levites)
    67500 x .1 = 6750 (The Levites tithe to the Priest)
    6750 x .1 = 675 exactly given by the Priest to the Lord

    Why was the priest subjected also to tithe?
    Because they were also human living on this earth.

    Malachi 3

    8 “Will a MAN (including the Priest) rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we (The Priest) rob you?’ “In tithes and offerings.

    Malachi 2:1-2

    1 “And now this admonition is for you, O PRIEST.

    2 If you do not listen, and if you do not set your heart to HONOR my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not set your heart to honor me.

    …honoring means paying tribute or tithe to God…

    Numbers 31:26 and 28

    26 “Speak to the Levites and say to them: ‘When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.

    28 In this way you also will present an offering (tithe) to the LORD from all the tithes (plural) you receive from the Israelites. (The Priest tithe) From these tithes (plural) you must give the Lord’s portion to Aaron the priest.

    …in this way (the tithing ) you (The Priest) also will present an offering (tithe)…
    …tithes you receive from the Israelites…( the Israelites tithe and the Levites tithe )

    How many tithes were mentioned?
    My answer is three tithes.

    But in Numbers 31 with the involvement directly by God in regards to war spoil the formula will not be the same as in Numbers 18.

    the two fractions given in Numbers 31 crosses over to each other in which we derive it by using division method.

    1/500 divided by 1/50 = 0
    50/500 divided by 1=1/10

    The answer would be 1/10 or .1 % which is equivalent to 3 x 10% of Numbers 18

    The same value you will get between these two method.
    The Tenth percent had still been intact.

    Now combine the two schemes by the given value of 675000 sheeps in Numbers 31

    337500 divided by 500 = 675 tithe to the Lord
    While 337500 divided by 50 = 6750 tithe to the Levites.

    The interesting fact here that the 1/500 tithe of the soldiers covers the other half share of the 675000 sheeps.

    That is why the Levites did not have to give their tithe to the Priest because it has already been paid by the soldiers tithe!

    there is no record that the Levites tithe their tithes to the Priest as his wages for the Tent of Meeting in Numbers 31, unlike in Number 18 the Priest got his wages from the Levites tithes.

    it is in your volition to investigate this missing link between the Levites and the Priest tithes.

    what really speculates me is that the soldiers paid their tithes directly to the Priest in which it should not have happened in theirs Laws or they have taken the Levites place for a special purpose.

    as for now we can assume that the soldiers of Israel represent the Nation Israel.
    For every tribe 1000 soldiers X 12 = 12000 soldiers

    In Numbers 18

    3 consecutive tithes X .1 % = .001 % X 675000 sheeps = 675 tithe to the Lord.

    Another method of calculating is by removing the 10% tithe of God from the 1/500 tithe of the soldiers.

    That would be equaled to 1/50 equivalent to the value given to the rest of communities.

    The arrangement can be made like this:
    1/50 (soldiers tithe)
    1/50 (the communities tithe)
    1/10. (God’s tithe)

    Combine the two 1/50 of both the soldiers and the communities since they were both the people of Israel.

    It derives as 1/50 and 1/50 = 2/100 by practical addition.

    Solution:
    (337500)2/100=6750 from Levites to the Priest
    The value of 100 can be as 10 X 10,
    10% tithe of the soldiers and
    10% tithe of the communities.
    By applying the Numbers 18 method:

    10% the Levites tithe and
    10% the Israelites (the soldiers + the communities)

    So now we can put everything in order like:

    10% (God’s tithe)
    10% (the Levites tithe)
    10% (the Israelites tithe)
    Or 3 X 10% of the Numbers 18.

    It’s so simple that God maintained his tithe even on these rare circumstances and the definition of it has never been changed or compromised as what Dr. Russel want to convey in his article.

    God will never allow this to happen or otherwise our salvation would be at stake.