Wesley Snipes was born in Orlando, Florida and grew up in New York City.
Snipes was raised in a Christian home, but as he grew up, his interests in religion expanded and he started looking into other faiths. He said,
I like to read about different religions–Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Buddhism. . . . It was actually my martial arts training that got me into it–after all it’s quite spiritual. And at the theater they always tell you what you’re not. That actually made me wonder who I actually am.
For a while, the religion he connected to most strongly was Islam. For ten years until 1988, the actor was a practicing Muslim. He said about his conversion,
[Islam made] me more conscious of what African people have accomplished, of my self-worth, [and gave] me some self-dignity.
Considering he’s not Muslim anymore, I would assume he’s gone back to Christianity–he’s still religious anyway. After being sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, Snipes said,
We still have prayers out there. We still believe in miracles. So don’t send me up the river yet.
And apparently he also worked his faith into his defense. The court’s opinion lays out Snipes’ view of who should not be required to pay taxes, a view that caused his tax attorneys to drop him as a client:
Snipes also claimed that as a “fiduciary of God, who is a ‘nontaxpayer,’” he was a “‘foreign diplomat’” who was not obliged to pay taxes.
But I suppose we’re starting to weirdly get into politics here, so. . .
The United States vs. Wesley Snipes
Most of what we can glean about Snipes’ political views come from his position on taxes. After not paying any taxes on his significant income for several years, he wrote a letter to the IRS asking for tax money he had previously paid to be returned to him. The letter claimed that he was a “non-resident alien” of the country and the federal government did not in fact have the authority to levy an income tax outside of Washington, D.C. and those who produce “distilled spirits.” He concluded it with what appears to be genuine sincerity:
Whatever the case, thank you for taking the time to educate me and help me comply with what the letter of the law requires, which has always been my sincere desire as a patriotic, law-abiding responsible American.
Clearly Snipes can identify with the Libertarian party, although I couldn’t find an explicit endorsement from the actor. The party, however, has endorsed Snipes. Libertarian executive director Wes Benedict released a statement defending his actions and attacking the court system for sending him to prison when they had the full authority to simply take his money, if that was their goal.
Who knows, maybe he’ll be a spokesman for the party after he gets out of jail. Or maybe he’ll decide prison isn’t worth it, and he’ll just stay quiet and pay his taxes. Keep us updated in the comments, Snipes fans.
Wesley Snipes Hopes Jesus Christ Our Lord Can Pray The Handcuffs Off His Wrists. ↩︎