New York Quakers Advocate War Tax Resistance

A wire report on showed that Quakers in New York had rediscovered war tax resistance:

Quakers in the New York area were encouraged today to refuse to pay taxes or hold jobs that contribute to the war effort in Viet Nam.

The Society of Friends office here made public a document or “testimony” approved at an annual meeting last month at Silver Bay on Lake George, N.Y..

The message was described as perhaps the “strongest message of the 20th Century by a major body within the denomination.”

In the document, Quakers were promised financial help through special committees if they changed jobs or refused to pay taxes in protest against the war.

Entitled “Message to Friends on Viet Nam,” the document said members of the society must “stand forth unequivocally and at all costs to proclaim their peace testimony.”

The 72 Friends “meetings” or congregations in New York, Northern New Jersey and Southern Connecticut were called upon to “support acts of conscience by setting up committees for sufferings…”

Such committees, the statement said, should “keep close touch with deeply exercised Friends and their families who may need spiritual and material care because of their witness.”

I haven’t had any luck finding the text of this “Message to Friends on Viet Nam” on-line. Hugh Barbour’s Quaker Crosscurrents: Three Hundred Years of Friends in the New York Yearly Meetings mentions it briefly, and also notes that:

Conscription was a major concern of the sessions as well, and the yearly meeting approved a “Letter to Friends Troubled by Conscription” for distribution to the monthly meetings. They also agreed that the yearly meeting should refuse to honor liens on the wages of employees made for collecting taxes that were not being paid for reasons of conscience. In the sessions Friends were urged to protest against taxation for war by refusing to pay the federal telephone tax, and the yearly meeting agreed to publicize its own refusal to pay this tax “imposed for the specific purpose of procuring funds for the support of the military action in Vietnam.”

That “Letter to Friends” is another document that seems to have missed the Internet bus.

The New York Yearly Meeting is still working on conscientious objection to paying for war, though the meeting’s last “minute” on the subject, in is vague and noncommittal:

The Living Spirit works in the world to give life, joy, peace and prosperity through love, integrity and compassionate justice among people. We are united in this Power. We acknowledge that paying for war violates our religious conviction. We will seek ways to witness to this religious conviction in each of our communities.

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