Minister Suspended by Church for War Tax Resistance Stand

From the edition of the Toledo Blade, fifty years ago today:

Ohio Pastor in Tax Fight Is Suspended

Presbytery’s Action in Cincinnati for Indefinite Period

The Rev. Maurice F. McCrackin was suspended from office and from communion by the Cincinnati Presbytery as the result of his long dispute with the Internal Revenue Service. Mr. McCrackin has refused to pay income taxes, contending that war is a sin and part of tax money is used for military purposes.

The suspension is for an indefinite period. Mr. McCrackin said that he was “shocked and disappointed” by the presbytery’s action and has appealed his case to the Ohio Synod.

Mr. McCrackin said he did not feel reasons for the presbytery’s decision “are consistent with the evidence and testimony presented during the trial’s session, nor in keeping with the historical position of the United Presbyterian Church.

“Where the commission admits my rights to freedom of conscience, freedom of the pulpit and freedom to pay or not to pay federal income taxes, at the same time it usurps the right to define the ways in which I shall exercise these freedoms.”

In Prison 5 Months

Mr. McCrackin served five months in a federal prison in for declining to heed a U.S. summons. At the time Mr. McCrackin, an admirer of Gandhi’s principles of civil disobedience, had to be carried bodily into Judge John H. Druffel’s U.S. District Court.

The presbytery’s statement, issued after almost 11 months of studying the case, said Mr. McCrackin was “guilty by sufficient proof of sin (1) of resisting the ordinances of God in that upon pretense of Christian liberty you have opposed the civil lawful powers and the lawful exercise of it; (2) publishing erroneous opinions and maintaining practices which are destructive to the eternal peace and order which Christ hath established in the church; (3) failing to obey the lawful commands and to be subject to the authority of the civil magistrates.”

Mr. McCrackin has continued to refuse to pay income taxes since his release from the federal penal institution at Allentown, Pa., in . He was sentenced after he refused to plead, to cooperate with court-appointed counsel, or to enter the courtroom himself. His attorneys entered a plea of innocent on his behalf.

Obligations Cited

The presbytery told Mr. McCrackin that “you have shown every evidence of accepting the right of Christian liberty and a willingness to accept the consequences of such liberty.

“At the same time and at the point of this trial, you have given little evidence, if any, of accepting the obligations and responsibilities of Christian liberty.”

The presbytery’s committee of ministerial relations will supply the pulpit at West Cincinnati-St. Barnabas Church during Mr. McCrackin’s period of suspension.

The Ohio Synod will meet at Muskingum College. If it reviews and upholds the presbytery’s judgment, Mr. McCrackin can appeal to the general assembly of the church in Denver, in .

Mr. McCrackin came to St. Barnabas Episcopal Church in when it was merged with West Cincinnati Presbyterian Church. He has ministered to the mixed congregation since.

In the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church reinstated McCrackin, admitting that it had acted in error by defrocking him.