Maurice McCrackin Prosecuted for War Tax Resistance

Maurice McCrackin was one of the movers and shakers of the early years of the modern American war tax resistance movement. Here are a couple of examples of the news coverage of his tax resistance actions. From the Gadsen Times:

Minister Will Not Pay Taxes For Military Use, May Be Forced To Spend 53rd Birthday In Jail

The Rev. Maurice Findley McCrackin will be 53 on . Where the pacifist minister will observe the anniversary is a problem. It may be in jail.

The neatly dressed, grey-haired minister is supposed to be in U.S. District Court here to answer an indictment charging him with failure to answer an Internal Revenue Service summons on his income tax troubles.

But he has said he won’t show up. And if he doesn’t court observers say he’ll be laying himself open to a contempt of court citation and that could mean jail.

The fight between the Rev. Mr. McCrackin and the Internal Revenue Service has been going on for 10 years but it has only been in recent months that it got into court.

The minister long has refused to pay all of his income taxes because part of the money is used for military purposes.

“I have no fear of prison,” he said in an interview. “Being in jail has given me an insight into what confinement means.”

He referred to his recent several day stay in jail after he had to be carried into court and refused to stand or plead to the indictment. U.S. District Judge John H. Druffel ordered him confined to jail for a psychiatric examination. But psychiatrists found him mentally competent and he was released with a summons to appear in court Monday.

What does he feel would happen if everyone adopted his attitude and refused to pay income taxes because part of the money goes to the armed forces? How could the nation protect itself against aggressors?

“But don’t you see?” the minister replied. “Not many people feel deeply enough on issues to break the law. My critics are making civil law the norm of conduct. I am not in rebellion against law as such.

“I am rebelling against this particular law in which the government has become part of a system which is evil and which threatens the existence of humanity.”

His philosophy also was expressed in a statement two years ago. He said: “If I can say and believe that Jesus would support conscription, that He would throw a hand grenade into a group of men, that He would drive men out of a cave with a flame thrower, than I not only have a right to do these things, but as a Christian, I am obliged to do them.

“But if I believe that Jesus would do none of these things, then I have no choice if I am a follower of His but to refuse at whatever personal cost to support war. This means I will not serve in the armed forces, nor will I voluntarily give my money to help make war possible.”

Another article from ’s Gadsen Times brought readers more up-to-date:

Won’t Pay Taxes, Preacher Jailed

They jammed the courtrooms — newsmen, friends, young law students, churchgoers and the merely curious — to see what would happen to the minister who won’t pay taxes.

It was a full house in U.S. District Court. But the defendant, the Rev. Maurice F. McCrackin, didn’t show up.

Court aides again went to find him. Once more, they had to lug the minister to their car and load him on a wheelchair for the trip to the courtroom. He gave no sign of help — or of resistance.

Once in court, the pacifist pastor sat in silence, answered no questions, declined to enter a plea or heed court-appointed lawyers.

The upshot was that Judge John H. Druffel sent the Rev. Mr. McCrackin to jail indefinitely for contempt of court.

The judge said the defendant had until to sign bond papers and agree to appear in court to face an indictment. The minister is charged with ignoring a summons to a conference on his income taxes.

He is reported to have paid little or no income tax over the past 10 years. He says the money goes for weapons of war and he believes war the greatest evil.

The Rev. Mr. McCrackin said night he’d rather stay in jail than sign. He made himself as comfortable as possible in his cell.

Judge Druffel said he took the step regretfully.

“You didn’t answer the summons,” said the judge. “You had to be carried to court. In the public press, you said you wouldn’t come in, and shouted your defiance to the court.

“Regretfully, we have no alternative but to hold you guilty of willful and deliberate failure to respond to the court’s summons.”

How long can the 52-year-old pastor of a Presbyterian-Episcopal church stay in jail?

Judge Druffel said: “There is no limit. If there were, he eventually could go free to continue ignoring and defying the authority of the court and you might just as well go out and haul down the Stars and Stripes.”

Druffel these days is not remembered for his fine quote about how “you might just as well go out and haul down the Stars and Stripes” but for his role in going above-and-beyond the call of judicial duty to drag his heels and refuse to enforce the racial desegregation of Ohio schools in spite of orders to do just that from higher courts. History can be so unkind.