Lutheran Clergy Issue Call for War Tax Resistance

The Casa Grande, Arizona, Dispatch carried this news on :

 Twenty-three Lutherans, including 12 clergymen, have signed a call for tax resistance against the arms race, declaring, “We will no longer pay for war while praying for peace.”

The call was issued by the Lutheran Peace Fellowship and is being circulated nationwide. The Rev. Dennis Jacobsen, fellowship coordinator, says hundreds of Lutherans are expected to sign.

Nuclear weapons “are an abomination in the sight of God,” the statement says, pledging signers to withhold taxes for arms and use the money to help the poor.

, the Columbia Missourian carried this article:

Local man won’t pay federal income taxes

Refuses to support military

By Betsy Krause
Missourian staff writer

For most people, income taxes are just a yearly annoyance. To George Mummert, 1605 Radcliffe Drive, they are a test of ethics.

Mummert, 33, is a conscientious objector twice over. He not only declined to register 15 years ago, but for the past three years he has withheld his federal income taxes because he objects to their use for military purposes.

“I’m to the point where I have to say no,” he told a small group during a Saturday slide presentation at the Presbyterian Student Center, 100 Hitt St.

“I cannot, in good conscience, see my money go towards the building up of weapons,” says the theologian who, although he is not officially ordained, says he sees himself as a minister. Mummert will receive a master’s degree of divinity in from St. Paul’s School of Theology in Kansas City. He is currently working on his doctoral philosophy dissertation at the University.

Mummert is part of a national drive for the World Peace Tax Fund. Members of the WPTF argue that individuals with strong religious or ethical beliefs against participation in war should be granted legal taxpaying alternatives.

“I’m not against paying taxes, when they go toward humanitarian needs,” he adds.

Mummert’s slides are supplied by the WPTF’s national council. The slides and the council’s literature say that 56 percent of every tax dollar is spent for military purposes. Most economists agree that arms spending is the most inflationary of government expenditures.

For every $1 billion spent on the military, the slides say, 76,000 jobs are created. When an equal amount is spent on education, 187,000 jobs are created, Mummert says.

“It makes no sense for me not to have to go to war, yet have others kill, and weapons built, in my name,” Mummert says.

Tax resistance can have serious consequences.

On , Mummert received a certified letter from the IRS which threatened to seize his property and collect from his bank accounts.

Legally the government could take action , but Mummert says there isn’t much money in his bank account. His car is in the bank’s name and he doesn’t own any property.

His refusal to pay taxes on ethical grounds could eventually lead to his arrest.

But Mummert is steadfast in his commitment. “I made my decision and if it leads to that (an arrest) then so be it,” he says. “There are times when you have to make a stand on conscience and let whatever happens, happen.”

Mummert does not feel he will end up behind bars because of the time it takes for a court case to evolve.

“I’m hoping that in the World Peace Tax Fund will have passed,” he says optimistically. “I’ll be glad to pay back my tax dollars when it does.”

The WPTF bill was introduced to Congress in and has more than 38 sponsors.

If the bill passes, the military portion of Mummert’s income taxes would be diverted into a government trust fund supporting peace-related projects.

Although there are other conscientious objectors who refuse to pay any income taxes, some take less extreme measures to protest against military spending.

Some people withhold $1 per month of their tax money as a symbolic act, says Susan Morse of 1616 University Ave.

“And one thing you can do that is less risky is to request a refund and say you are paying under protest,” she says.

Ms. Morse, who also calls herself a conscientious objector, has requested refunds for . She has never received one.

, however, she withheld payment on her income taxes as well and has been notified by the IRS.

To tax resisters such as Mummert and Morse, the risk they are taking relieves their consciences. They are no longer contributing to the build up of weapons capable of destroying the earth.

This does not necessarily relieve their pessimism about the chances that such weapons will be used.

“If the weapons are ever used, they (the taxpayers) have to take responsibility.”