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Below is my editing of the article on tithe from wikipedia. Feel free to make suggestions, but wait to make edits until I put it in the unstarted tithe article. Place suggestions here:



tithe article from wikipedia

A tithe (from Old English teogoþa, "tenth") is a one-tenth part of something, paid as a contribution to the Church as a part of Christian stewardship. Because it is voluntary and based on percentage of income, it is distinct from the concept of a due. Today, tithes (or tithing) are normally voluntary and paid in cash, checks, or electronic funds transfers, whereas historically tithes could be paid in kind, such as agricultural products. Several European countries operate a formal process linked to the tax system allowing some churches to assess tithes.

Tithing in the Bible

The tithe and tithing first appear in the Bible in the in the book of Genesis in connection with the prophet and patriarch Abraham. The origin of tithing is intimately linked with both Abraham's cultural background and the figure of the Canaanite king and priest Melchizedek.

Old Testament origins

In the time of Abraham

According to the Genesis account, Abram, returning from a battle by the Dead Sea, was hailed by Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalem) who was also the priest of El Elyon ("the Most High God"):

Melchizedek king of Salem brought bread and wine; he was a priest of God Most High. He pronounced this blessing:
Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth.

And blessed be God Most High for putting your enemies into your clutches.

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
Genesis 14:18-20 (NJB)

When Melchizedek appeared and offered Abram bread and wine and blessed him in the name of God, tithes were exchanged. Some scholars note that this tithe was possibly rooted in a ten percent tax common in Babylonian culture at the time. In any case, the Biblical practice of tithing is rooted in this exchange between the prophet and patriarch Abraham and the priest-king Melchizidek, who is often interpreted as a type of Christ.

In the time of Moses

The tithe is specifically mentioned in Numbers and also in Deuteronomy in connection with the establishment of Jewish worship by Moses. Numbers 18:24-28 concerns the tribe of Levi, and especially the family of Aaron. Because members of the tribe of Levi were assistants to Aaron, his family, and the Israelite priests and did not own or inherit a territorial patrimony, goods donated from the other Israeli tribes were their source of sustenance. They received from "all Israel" a tithe of food or livestock for support, but would first set aside a portion of that tithe for the priests.

In the time of King Hezekiah

LMLK seals may represent the oldest archaeological evidence of tithing. About 10 percent of the storage jars manufactured during Hezekiah's reign (circa 700 BC) were stamped (Grena, 2004, pp. 376-8). See 2 Chronicles 29-31 for a record of this early worship reformation.

Tithing in the Books of the (Minor) Prophets

The book of Tobit (1:6-8) provides an example of all three classes of tithes practiced during the Babylonian exile:

But I alone went often to Jerusalem at the feasts, as it was ordained unto all the people of Israel by an everlasting decree, having the firstfruits and tenths of increase, with that which was first shorn; and them gave I at the altar to the priests the children of Aaron. The first tenth part of all increase I gave to the sons of Aaron, who ministered at Jerusalem: another tenth part I sold away, and went, and spent it every year at Jerusalem: And the third I gave unto them to whom it was meet, as Debora my father's mother had commanded me...

Jews, Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant Christians who tithe, understand that no man may outdo God in the act of charity. (Malachi 3:8-12):

8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, `How are we robbing thee?' In your tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me; the whole nation of you.
10 Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house; and thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil; and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the LORD of hosts.
12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the LORD of hosts.
Revised Standard Edition

Tithing in the New Testament

According to Saint Paul the Apostle, it was common practice in the New Testament Church to provide for ministers of the Gospel (1Cor 9:9-14). Though he himself was demonstrating that he did not participate in this practice, for the sake of building up new communities, the clear implication is that the practice was commonplace.

In the beginning this was supplied by the spontaneous offerings of the faithful. In the course of time, however, as the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to write canons which would ensure the proper and permanent support of the clergy.

Christians support the Church and her pastors with monetary contributions of one sort or another. Sometimes these monetary contributions are called tithes whether or not they actually represent ten-percent of anything. However, as tithing was an ingrained Jewish custom by the time of Jesus, no specific command to tithe per se is found in the New Testament. References to tithing in the New Testament can be found in Matthew, Luke, and the catholic epistle to the Hebrews.

For Catholics, the payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of conscience, rather than any direct command by Jesus Christ.

Some Protestant denominations cite Template:Bibleref as support for tithing.

Away with you, you pettifogging Pharisee lawyers! You give to God a tenth of herbs, like mint, dill, and cumin, but the important duties of the Law -- judgement, mercy, honesty -- you have neglected. Yet these you ought to have performed, without neglecting the others.
(Albright & Mann, Matthew, Anchor Bible, Vol. 26 (1971))

and its parallel Luke 11:42

Woe to you, Pharisees! You tithe mint and rue and every edible herb but disregard justice and the love of God. These were rather the things one should practice, without neglecting the others.
(Fitzmyer, Luke, Anchor Bible, Vol.l, 28A (1985))

Because of Jesus' specific mention of tithe in this passage, it is often felt that he thereby gave his endorsement to the practice of tithing in general and specifically to tithing herbs like mint, dill and cumin. Some scholars disagree, however, pointing out that Jesus was simply obeying Mosaic law as an obedient Jew.

The only other occurrence of "tithe" in the New Testament is found in Hebrews, chapter 7. Hebrews is an attempt to convince Jewish Christians that the entire sanctuary system, especially its priesthood, had been replaced by the Melchizedek-type high priesthood of Jesus Christ and the individual priesthood of every believer. Chapter 7 uses the ineffectiveness of tithing to illustrate that the laws governing the priesthood (including tithing) were "changed" and "abolished" (7:5, 12, 18).

However, the book "Anabasis" by the Greek writer Xenophon mentions tithing in connection with the burnt offering sacrifices he made to his pagan god. How both cultures related, borrowed ideas from each other, and intermingled is aptly displayed by such overt Hellenistic influences in Judaic tomes, such as the Pentateuch.

Modern-day teachings

It is thought that tithes were not adopted by the Western church for over seven centuries. Although rejected, they were mentioned in councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787. Tithing in non-Orthodox Christian groups today is frequently preached from the pulpit, but various denominations and sects view tithing differently.

In recent years, tithing has been revived in Orthodox Churches as a form of stewardship that God requires of Christians. The primary argument is that God has never formally abolished the tithe, and thus Christians should pay the tithe (usually calculated at 10 percent of all gross income from all sources), usually to the local congregation (though some teach that a part of the tithe can go to other Christian ministries, so long as total giving is at least 10 percent). Jurisdictions that have encouraged shifting from a system of dues to tithe-based stewardship include the Orthodox Church in America and the Antiochian Archdiocese of North America.

Governmental collection of religious offerings


The right to receive tithes was granted to the English churches by King Ethelwulf in 855. The Saladin tithe was a royal tax, but assessed using ecclesiastical boundaries, in 1188. Tithes were given legal force by the Statute of Westminster of 1285. Adam Smith criticised the system in The Wealth of Nations (1776), arguing that a fixed rent would encourage peasants to farm more efficiently. The Dissolution of the Monasteries led to the transfer of many tithe rights from the Church to secular landowners, and then in the 1530s to the Crown. The system ended with the Tithe Commutation Act 1836, which replaced tithes with a rent charge decided by a Tithe Commission. The records of land ownership, or Tithe Files, made by the Commission are now a valuable resource for historians.

At first this commutation reduced problems to the ultimate payers by folding tithes in with rents (however it could cause transitional money supply problems by raising the transaction demand for money). Later the decline of large landowners led tenants to become freeholders and again have to pay directly; this also led to renewed objections of principle by non-Anglicans.

The rent charges paid to landowners were converted by the Tithe Act 1936 to annuities paid to the state through the Tithe Redemption Commission. The payments were transferred in 1960 to the Board of Inland Revenue, and finally terminated by the Finance Act 1977.


In France, the tithes -- called "la dîme" -- were a land tax. Originally a voluntary tax, in 585 the "dîme" became mandatory. In principle, unlike the taille, the "dîme" was levied on both noble and non-noble lands. The dîme was divided into a number of types, including the "grosses dîmes" (grains, wine, hay), "menues" or "vertes dîmes" (vegetables, poultry), "dîmes de charnage" (veal, lamb, pork). Although the term "dîme" comes from the Latin decima [pars] ("one tenth", same origin for U.S. coin dime), the "dîme" rarely reached this percentage and (on the whole) it was closer to 1/13th of the agricultural production.

The "dîme" was originally meant to support the local parish, but by the 16th century many "dîmes" went directly to distant abbeys, monasteries, and bishops, leaving the local parish impoverished, and this contributed to general resentment. In the Middle Ages, some monasteries also offered the "dîme" in homage to local lords in exchange for their protection (see Feudalism) (these are called "dîmes inféodées"), but this practice was forbidden by the Lateran Council of 1179.


Germany levies a church tax, on all persons declaring themselves to be Christians, of roughly 8-9% of the income tax, which is effectively (very much depending on the social and financial situation) typically between 0.2% and 1.5% of the total income. The proceeds are shared amongst Catholic, Lutheran, and other Protestant Churches. The church tax (Kirchensteuer) traces its history to the concordat signed between the Holy See and the German Reich in July 1933 but its roots reach back as far as the Reichsdeputationshauptschluss of 1803. Today its legal basis is §140 of the Grundgesetz (the German "constitution") in connection with article 137 of the Weimarer Verfassung (Weimar constitution). Church tax (Kirchensteuer) is compulsory in Germany and is deducted at PAYE level. The duty to pay this tax theoretically starts on the day one is christened. Anyone who wants to stop paying it has to declare in writing, at their local court of law (Amtsgericht) or registry office, that they are leaving the Church. They are then crossed off the Church registers and can no longer receive the sacraments.


Tithes were local religious tax-like payments paid in Ireland by members of other faiths as well as its own adherents to maintain and fund the established state church, the Anglican Church of Ireland, to which only a small minority of the population belonged. The collection of tithes was violently resisted in the period 1831-36, known as the Tithe War. With the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland, tithes were abolished.


All members of the Church of Denmark pay a church tax, which varies between municipalities. The tax is generally around 1% of the taxable income.

Spain and Spanish America

Both the tithe (diezmo), a tax of 10% on all agricultural production, and "first fruits" (primicias), an additional harvest tax, were collected in Spain throughout the medieval and early modern periods for the support of local Catholic parishes. The tithe crossed the Atlantic with the Spanish Empire; however, the Indians who made up the vast majority of the population in colonial Spanish America were exempted from paying tithes on native crops such as corn and potatoes that they raised for their own subsistence. After some debate, Indians in colonial Spanish America were forced to pay tithes on their production of European agricultural products, including wheat, silk, cows, pigs, and sheep. The tithe was abolished in several Latin American countries, including Mexico, soon after independence from Spain; others, including Argentina and Peru still collect tithes today for the support of the Catholic Church. The tithe was abolished in Spain itself in 1841.


Until the year 2000, Sweden had a mandatory church tax to be paid if one did belong to the Church of Sweden which had been funneling about $500 million annually to the church. Due to change in legislation, the tax was withdrawn in year 2000. However, the Swedish government has agreed to continue collecting from individual taxpayers the annual payment that has always gone to the church. But now the tax will be an optional checkoff box on the tax return. The government will allocate the money collected to Catholic, Muslim, Jewish and other faiths as well as the Lutherans, with each taxpayer directing where his or her taxes should go.


Church tax is compulsory in Austria and Catholics can be sued by the Church for not paying it. Anyone who wants to stop paying it has to declare in writing, at their local municipal council, that they are leaving the Church. They are then crossed off the Church registers and can no longer receive the sacraments. The tax amounts to about 1% of the income.


There is no official state church in Switzerland; however, all the 26 cantons (states) financially support at least one of the three traditional denominations--Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, or Protestant--with funds collected through taxation. Each canton has its own regulations regarding the relationship between church and state. In some cantons, the church tax (up to 2.3%) is voluntary but in others an individual who chooses not to contribute to church tax may formally have to leave the church. In some cantons private companies are unable to avoid payment of the church tax.


Members of certain churches pay a church tax of between 1% and 2.25%, depending on the municipality.

United States

The United States has never collected a church tax or mandatory tithe on its citizens, under the principle of separation of church and state. The United States and its governmental subdivisions do, however, exempt most churches from payment of income tax (under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and similar state statutes) and other taxes such as sales and property taxes, either in whole or in part.

See also


Template:Citations missing

  • Albright, W. F. and Mann, C. S. Matthew, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 26. Garden City, New York, 1971.
  • The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, Vol. 4 "E." Chicago, 1958.
  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A. The Gospel According to Luke, X-XXIV, The Anchor Bible, Vol. 28A. New York, 1985.
  • Template:Cite book
  • Speiser, E. A. Genesis, The Anchor Bible, Vol.1. Garden City, New York, 1964.
  • Kelly, Russell Earl, "Should the Church Teach Tithing? A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine," IUniverse, 2001.

External links

The links to the Bible in the text above link to the King James Version of the Bible. Other Bible translations may present the text using other words and with different interpretations.