Historic Peace Churches Agree on War Tax Resistance

I shared an Associated Press dispatch from about a then-upcoming meeting of Quakers, Brethren, and Mennonites who were planning to coordinate war tax resistance. Today, an article reporting on how the conference went, from the Milwaukee Sentinel:

Sects Urge Tax Protest for Peace

 — A national meeting of “historic peace churches” — Quakers, Mennonites and Brethren — agreed to support those who refuse to pay “the military portion” of their federal taxes.

The possibly illegal “war tax resistance” position is a giant step for many in the churches from the passive refusal to bear arms and turning the other cheek.

Statements such as “we are praying for peace but paying for war” prodded the more than 300 delegates at a New Call to Peacemaking conference to back what advocates called an economic moral equivalent to military conscientious objection.

The lengthy statement also urged total disarmament after arms reduction, formation of a peace church delegation to President Carter, establishment of a world peace tax fund and simpler lifestyles.

It is not binding on the 350,000 members of the churches in the US or the nearly one million members worldwide.

The four day conference at the American Baptist Assembly here followed 26 regional meetings with participation by more than 1,500 Quakers, Mennonites and Brethren.

The joint meetings in themselves were a new ecumenical venture in breaking stereotypes. It was the first time in recent years representatives of the churches had met in such a conference.

The national conference challenged congregations and church agencies to consider refusing to pay the military portion of their federal taxes, generally thought to be about half, as a response to Christ’s call to radical discipleship.

It also asked them to “uphold war tax resistors with spiritual, emotional, legal and material support,” and to consider requests of employees who ask that their taxes not be withheld.

As I mentioned last month, the “New Call to Peacemaking” isn’t so new anymore — but it’s still active, as is its sister project Every Church a Peace Church. I think the new $10.40 for Peace campaign may also spring from these roots.