Richard Fichter Refuses to Pay War Taxes, Defrocked by Methodists

Today, a couple of notes about Richard Fichter, who was one of those in the first generation of the modern American war tax resistance movement. First, from the Binghamton Press:

Methodists Dismiss Pastor Refusing to Pay Income Tax

Springville Minister Won’t Contribute To “Arms Race”

Scranton — (AP) — An executive session of the one hundred and second annual meeting of the Wyoming Conference of the Methodist Church has dismissed a 29-year-old minister because he refuses to pay income taxes.

The action was taken against the Rev. Richard M. Fichter of Springville, Pa., who was charged with six rural churches on a circuit in Susquehanna County of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

The dismissal was announced by the Rev. Dr. Roswell W. Lyon, super­intendent of Mr. Fichter’s district. He said Mr. Fichter was given a chance last year to pay the taxes after he had repeatedly refused to do so.

Mr. Fichter, a deacon in the church, says he refuses to pay taxes as a “matter of Christian conscience because of the suicidal armaments race” the money would support. The Internal Revenue Bureau has filed a lien against him for back taxes. The amount due was not disclosed.

His dismissal was voted by the executive session which overruled a decision of the nine-man Board of Ministerial Training and Qualifications. The board voted 5-4 to accept Mr. Fichter as an elder, the final recognition given by the church. The later vote against Mr. Fichter automatically dismisses him from his charges, Dr. Lyon explained.

The next article gives a little more information about an intriguiging Fichter tidbit I dug up . From the Binghamton Press:

On “Duty” at Ohio Courthouse

Pa. Farmer Picketing To Aid Jailed Minister

Cincinnati — (AP) — Richard Fichter, a Springville, Susquehanna County, Pa., dairy farmer has started a one-man picket duty at county courthouse here.

Mr. Fichter drove 650 miles here in a rickety old car, to support a pacifist jail inmate who won’t pay taxes.

His placard, on one side, says: “I don’t support war taxes either.”

The other side says: “I support McCrackin’s 13-day fast in Jail for peace.”

Mr. McCrackin is the Rev. Maurice F. McCrackin, controversial minister sent to jail indefinitely for contempt because he refused to take any part in his U.S. District Court arraignment . He was Indicted on a charge of failing to heed a summons to a conference on taxes.

Refused Food

The pastor has refused any food since entering his cell, except to drink some water. On a doctor’s advice, he ended his fast .

Mr. Fichter, a wiry man, started his picketing Saturday. The Pennsylvania farmer, like the minister, is connected with a group here called the Peacemakers, who refused to pay part, or all their Income tax because it goes for war purposes.

Mr. Fichter was once a minister, serving a Methodist Church in Springville, a small rural community. But he said he was stripped of his church.

He said: “Fellow clergymen wouldn’t let me in as a ministerial member of the Wyoming Conference because of my refusal to pay taxes.”

Prepared Appeal

An attempt by Mr. Fichter to crash “The $64,000 Question” television show, no longer on the air, on , in New York City was cut short by show officials. He had prepared an appeal against paying taxes to buy nuclear weapons.

Mr. Fichter said he hasn’t paid his taxes in nine years. “The first year, they (Revenue Service) took it out of my bank.

“After that I didn’t file a return. Lately they’ve been coming out to the farm trying to get me to file. And they sent me a notice recently saying they’d like to file it for me — going to the banks and feed mills and so on, to get the figures.”

New troubles loom for Mr. McCrackin, minister of a com-Church in the west end of Cincinnati.

He also directs church-connected Neighborhood House. Episcopal Bishop Henry Wise Hobson has taken steps that may force out the minister as director.

Not As Minister

A house board spokesman said last night the bishop’s suggestions for a change are still somewhat loose, but that one suggestion was to have the minister step out as director — but not as minister of the church.

Ernest Bromley of nearby Sharonville, one of the leaders of the non-taxpaying Peacemakers and also a onetime Methodist minister in Bath, N.C., said he visited the minister in jail and found him in good spirits, “but he looks a little thinner from that fast.”

Mr. McCrackin is slated for trial in U.S. District Court here .

Judge John H. Durffel last week ordered a new group of prospective jurors drawn for the trial.


This photo comes from the Batavia Daily News. Let’s see what else I can find out about this unusual tax resister for gender equality.

Volume 8 of The Social Hygiene Bulletin has this note:

The Tax on Bachelors

William Atzinger, aged 35, notified the assessor of Chouteau County, Montana, that he will refuse to pay the poll tax of $3 levied on bachelors by the last state legislature. In his declaration he says, “Spinsters are responsible for my not being married in their refusals of my wooing in the past.”

The report from Great Falls, Montana, further quotes the defiant bachelor as follows: “Tax the spinsters of the same age and I will gladly pay, but otherwise it is class legislation and I stand upon my rights. Furthermore I refuse to get married to escape jail and I refuse to pay a bachelor tax to escape jail.”

, the Montana state supreme court ruled that the bachelor tax was unconstitutional (at the same time it also threw out a 21-year-old poll tax that was also imposed only on men).

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