Historic Peace Churches Confer on War Tax Resistance

Here’s an AP dispatch that I found in the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg, Virginia:

Protestant groups eye war-tax resistance

Three Protestant denominations opposed to war are considering a new kind of tax resistance — refusal to pay taxes that go for arms and equipment for war.

Following a year-long series of joint regional conferences under the banner of a “New Call to Peacemaking,” the three historic “peace” churches have set a national conference about it in Greenlake, Wis.

The meeting is to consider regional proposals for some form of tax protest against spending for armaments and munitions of war.

The denominations, whose hallmark for centuries has been conscientious objection to participation in violence and war, are all relatively small. But they’ve had an influential impact on Christianity at large and on American thought.

They are the Society of Friends, involving about 100,000 Quakers; the Church of the Brethren, a Midwest-based denomination with about 180,000 members, and the Menonites, totaling about 130,000

Although many of them have protested war in the past by refusing to accept military service, the nature of modern war has turned “from manpower to money for technology and automated weapons,” the churches said.

In a joint statement, they said members of the movement now are “poised for stronger action.”

“The time has come for all Christians and people of all faiths to renounce war on religious and moral grounds,” the new cooperative coalition of peace churches said in its new call.

Regional meetings at 26 locations have been held in the last year about the issue, with more than 1,500 persons taking part, citing war and violence as “denials of the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.”

At one of the conferences at Old Chatham, N.Y., , it raised this question: “Are we going to pray for peace, and pay for war?” Another in Wichita, Kan., declared that 50 percent of funds collected from income taxes are used for military-related purposes and for manufacture of destructive weapons. The meeting encouraged “individuals who feel called to resist the payment of the military portion of their federal taxes.”

A meeting in North Manchester, Ind., proposed making use of the current tax revolt highlighted by California’s Proposition 13 and the distress at the national debt and inflation to further the peace cause.

The Indiana meeting suggested “legislative approaches that attract” the concerns of millions. The meeting urged an annual 5 percent decrease in military spending until it is cut 25 percent.

“The supposition that arms provide security is an illusion,” say the planners of the October conference in their letter of invitation.

“We call for a world based on peaceful order rather than the ‘balance of terror’ fueled by nuclear arsenals and the spreading arms sales.”

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.