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Last updated November 24.

Feb. 16, 2009 issue

War-tax resisters seek to owe nothing but love

By Susan Miller For Mennonite Weekly Review

“We see war-tax resistance as principled civil disobedience,” wrote John and Janet Stoner of Akron, Pa.

Longtime WTR Albert Meyer of Goshen wrote: “Mary Ellen and I … are not ‘cogs in a wheel.’ We want to do what we can to work for peace, rather than voluntarily to support war.”

Don Kaufman of Newton, Kan., author of What Belongs to Caesar? and The Tax Dilemma, wrote: “My wife and I believe our task as good citizens is to faithfully resist any coercion of conscience by the majority who demand support for military solutions instead of respecting our trust in a loving God.”

Despite the drawbacks — war-tax resistance hasn’t reduced the U.S. military budget, IRS collections are a hassle, and lack of support from fellow church members is discouraging — most WTRs surveyed for this article stressed the positive consequences of following their consciences.

“For us it is a matter of integrity and faithfulness,” wrote Titus and Linda Gehman Peachey of Lancaster, Pa. “We feel we cannot talk of peace without also trying to resist the ways we contribute to violence. We also want to resist the lie that superior violence will bring security.”

Finding support

As a small, radical segment of the peace community, WTRs can feel isolated and misunderstood. One survey respondent said he experienced open hostility to his war-tax resistance, and he fears the Mennonite church has lost its peace witness.

Other WTRs have found that their support comes from outside their congregation, through groups such as the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, and Conscience and Peace Tax International.

The NWTRCC offers an online support and discussion group for WTRs.

Assembly Mennonite Church in Goshen includes a pledge to support members who refuse draft registration and war-tax payment in its understandings of church membership.

Stan Bohn of North Newton, Kan., is planning a gathering of WTRs at the Mennonite Church USA assembly in Columbus, Ohio, this summer.

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