From reading my blog lately, you might think that American Quaker war tax resistance stopped 125 years ago. But, of course, it’s still going on today. A couple of reports from the recent New England Yearly Meeting of Friends make note of how Meetings like this continue to struggle with the issue:
- At Teeksa Photography, Skip Schiel mourned
at what he saw to be a half-hearted interest in such issues:
And on a more encouraging note, he quotes from the opening prayer of outgoing presiding clerk Christopher McCandless:
[L]ike a person with an ailing stomach or chronic arthritis, not life threatening, simply annoying, distracting, worrisome, who then dilutes focus on issues in the wider world, NEYM turns inward, year after year. Our stated theme was “War, God Help Us!” and some like Ernestine Buscemi in the keynote and Peter Crysdale in the bible half hours attempted to refer to it. Despite their attempts, little attention was directed to societal issues such as the war in Iraq, the threat of war with Iran, torture, erosion of civil liberties, environmental desecration, racism, to name a few of the pressing problems of our day. We (I say we inaccurately — I attended only one hour of one business session, not boycotting, just displeased and choosing to devote myself to other matters during that period) passed several minutes about the Iraq war and torture, but I’ve heard these were relatively weak, mostly for internal communication (other meetings and Quaker bodies), lacking substantial discussion, let alone controversy and debate which might stir the pot more, and without action components. Lo and horrors should we ever call for tax resistance or surrounding the Pentagon or joining the equivalent of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign — or freeing one’s slaves.
“God, help us: Help us to be Your people, a people of peace in a world awash in the imagery and realities of war. Forgive us our complicity, by our corporate silence and the taxes we render unto America, in our nation’s headlong prosecution of military responses to the violence in the world.…”
- Will T. at Growing Together in the Light
mentions tax resister Paul Hood’s talk at the meeting:
Paul Hood gave a lengthy testimony of his experiences as a marine in the Pacific in World War Ⅱ and how he was eventually led to being a tax resister. Although he hasn’t paid Federal income taxes since the Vietnam War, he found to his surprise that he was eligible to a tax rebate check this year. After giving it some thought he filed a tax return and has now decided to give his rebate check to the Yearly Meeting.