American Brethren and War Taxes in 1960

Today, some gleanings from the Gospel Messenger of .

Church of the Brethren: Gospel Messenger

In the issue, Donald M. Royer shared the results of his study of two Brethren congregations, one with a strong adherence to the Brethren “peace doctrine” and the other not so much (source). In the less-strong congregation, Royer noted, “over half the members… work in industries with government contracts for military material… When asked what they would do in time of war, about one in two replied that they would buy war bonds, work in industries making materials for war, and at the same time increase their giving to the Brethren Service program.”

Harry K. Zeller, Jr. penned something of a paean to the protester in the issue (source). Excerpt:

War — hot or cold — is the major business of civilized nations. It is now accepted as a part of our way of life. To some people such a condition of national conduct is unworthy of us as children of God. A few resist, refusing to accept for themselves what society approves. With Edith Cavell they insist, “Patriotism is not enough.” They decline to salute, refrain from wearing the uniform and refuse to kill. A few will not even pay that portion of their income tax which is used for military purposes.

They have undertaken the most important practical task facing the world — the honest effort of simple people to eliminate war, the Public Enemy No. 1 of humanity. Provision can be made for conscientious objection and its parallel provided in alternative service, but to refuse to pay taxes — this no civilized society can permit! Society cannot tolerate these social resisters either. If they persist, they must be punished or imprisoned or eliminated.

A lengthy letter to the editor about taxpayer complicity in militarism from Mrs. Robert D. Clark appeared in the issue (source). Excerpt:

We would laud the man who risked his life refusing to obey Hitler. Are we just as alert to recognize that a brave girl, Eroseanna Robinson, an athlete of national standing, is in jail today because her conscience will not allow her to let her tax money be used to promote precisely the same method of dealing with world problems? Can the same method be evil under Hitler and righteous in America?

The issue profiled long-time minister Ross Murphy (source). The profile included this note: “[H]e was elected president of the Philadelphia federation of churches shortly before World War Ⅱ began, and he was able to use his influence to keep the churches of the city from being stampeded into the sale of war bonds.”