Organizational statements on military tax resistance American Baptist Churches—USA
All persons are created in the image of God and owe their first allegiance to God. All persons have the responsibility to read and interpret the scriptures and to reflect on their religious experience in order to understand God's will for them and the world, and they are called in conscience to live out that understanding. The supreme responsibility of every person is to obey God's will above all human laws and directives.
(From Resolution on Christian Conscience and Military Service, 1979)
Church of the Brethren
Prophetic Proclamation and Action for Peace
They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nations shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more (Isa. 2:4).
In the tradition of Moses to Malachi, prophetic proclamation and action has been a distinctive part of our heritage. The prophetic, whether a word of judgment, a cry of anguish, a symbolic act of resistance or defiance, a confession, or a vision of hope and promise, always presupposes that Yahweh is active in our time. Jesus, our prophet, modeled the prophetic in the way he taught, preached, and performed miracles. Paul proclaimed this prophetic tradition as the inheritance of the church, seeing it as one of God's greatest gifts to the church and ranking the prophet second only to an apostle in honor and importance in its life (1 Cor. 12:28-29).
It is to this prophetic tradition that the Church of the Brethren aspires in its proclamations and actions for peace with justice as it:
1. declares that peace is the will of God and all war is sin;
2. calls all its members not to participate in the military in any way and to find constructive avenues of peacemaking;
3. proclaims that our first allegiance is to God even when obedience requires civil disobedience;
4. condemns the outrageous expenditures of the state for military forces and weapons of destruction, and condemns national security doctrines and strategies of deterrence that rationalize such expenditures and the militarization of societies;
5. calls for complete nuclear, biological and chemical weapons disarmament;
6. calls on government for the provision of alternatives to heavy taxes for the military and supports those who are war tax resisters;
7. encourages the boycott of products produced and sold by companies that derive large amounts of their income from military contracts;
8. provides sanctuary and refuge for those who illegally enter our country seeking a safe haven from war and/or threats to their lives because of political beliefs.
(From 1991 Annual Conference Statement, "Peacemaking: the Calling of God's People in History")
For further information, contact: Church of the Brethren General Board, 1451 Dundee Avenue, Elgin, IL 60120-1694; www.brethren.org
Hutterian Brethren, Church of Christ (Hutterites)
We can have no part in the financing of war operations through the purchase of war bonds and war taxes in any form or through voluntary contributions to any of the organizations or activities falling under the category described immediately above, unless such contributions are used for civilian relief or similar purposes.
(From a statement by Montana Hutterites, 1951)
For further information, contact: Rev. William Gross, 3610 N. Wood Road, Reardon, WA 99029; Rev. Joseph J. Waldner, #1129, Havre, MT 59501; Rev. Joseph J. Hofer, Rim Rock Colony, Sunburst, MT 59482; Rev. Joseph D. Waldner, #34, Route 1, Sun River, MT 59483; Rev. Peter J. Hofer, Harlowtown, MT 59036; Rev. John J. Entz, Ulm, MT 59485; Rev. John J. Wipf, Box 417, Cut Bank, MT 59427; Rev. Paul P. Wipf, Chester, MT 59522; www.hutterianbrethren.com
Church of Christ (Disciples of christ)
Whereas, The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) has traditionally encouraged diversity of Christian thought; and
Whereas, The Constitution of the United States of America (the 200th anniversary of which is celebrated in 1987) through protections provided by the Bill of Rights, guarantees the protection of minority opinions; and
Whereas, The General Assembly of Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and its predecessor the International Convention of Christian Churches approved many resolutions supporting persons who conscientiously object to military service (General Assembly Actions 6848, 6942, 6926, 7120, 7943, 8120; International Convention statements in 1930, 1933, 1934, 1936, 1938, 1939, 1941, 1946, 1947, 1949, 1950, 1954); and
Whereas, General Assembly resolutions have affirmed opposition to the arms race and to excessive military spending (8560, 8529, 8136, 8129, 7946, 7936, 7334); and
Whereas, More than one-third of United States federal taxes are used for current military expenditures; and
Whereas, Some members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in their desire for meaningful alternatives to taxation for military spending have chosen to withhold a portion of their federal taxes even though such an act is a violation of the law; and
Whereas, There is increasing support in the United States Congress for legislation which would make it legally possible for persons conscientiously opposed to war to have the military portion of their federal tax go into a special United States Peace Tax Fund for uses that enhance peace and human welfare;
Therefore, Be it Resolved, That the General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, October 16-21,1987 endorse the concept of a United States Peace Tax Fund, a fund that would provide a legal alternative for those tax-paying citizens who, on grounds of conscience, object to paying for war and human destruction; and
Be it Further Resolved, That the General Assembly affirm support for those who, in the absence of a United States Peace Tax Fund, choose to withhold all or part of their taxes used for military purposes; and
Be it Further Resolved, That the General Assembly call on congregations of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) to initiate studies of this matter; and
Be it Further Resolved, That the General Assembly request the Disciples Peace Fellowship to provide resource material and action project suggestions on these issues to regions, congregations and individuals.
(Adopted by the General Assembly, 1987)
Box 1986, Indianapolis, IN 46206; www.disciples.org
Episcopal Episcopal Church
Resolved, the House of Bishop concurring, That this 67th General Conference of the Episcopal Church reaffirms the statement . . . calling Christian people everywhere . . . to
engage themselves in nonviolent action for justice and peace and to support others so engaged, recognizing that such action will be controversial and may be personally very costly; and be it further . . .
Resolved, That this General Convention calls upon all members of this Church seriously to consider the implications for their own lives of this call to resist war and work for peace. . . .
Resolved [That] this Conference . . . declares its belief that nonviolent refusal to participate in or prepare for war can be a faithful response of a member of this Church and a decision to support or participate in war should be made only after careful and prayerful consideration.
Episcopal Peace Fellowship
The Episcopal Peace Fellowship "supports war tax resistance as a witness for peace."
(EPF Membership Pamphlet)
Friends of all ages may witness by acts ranging from refusal to pay war taxes to non- participation in war-related work to demonstrations and other public witness. All should be aware of the tragic consequences of indifference, timidity and procrastination.
(From Faith and Practice of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, August 1988)
Friends United Meeting
Resolution on Personnel Policy Regarding Employees Who Are War Tax Resisters
As Christians we seek to be biblically obedient, submitting to such inunctions as Romans 13-7 "pay taxes to whom taxes are due," but also Romans 13:8 and 10 "owe no one anything except to love one another . . . love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law." We accept our subordination to government and our obligation to pay taxes. However, we must witness to governments our conviction that war and preparation for war do wrong to our neighbors and are contrary to the will of God as revealed in the teachings of Jesus Christ and his death, resurrection, and ascension to Lordship.
We urge our governments to sharply reduce military spending and use our resources for life-affirming purposes. Furthermore, just as conscientious objectors have received exemption from military service, we also seek legislation exempting conscientious objectors from paying taxes for military purposes. Thus we continue to work for the passage for the World Peace Tax Fund which would allow individuals to designate all of their federal income taxes for peaceful purposes.
Policy in Regard to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Levies And Liens
At the meeting of the General Board in October 1987, FUM affirmed that conscientious objection to paying taxes for military purposes is an appropriate and traditional individual expression of Friends Peace Testimony. It recognized its obligation to uphold the consciences of its staff by agreeing, on request of a staff member, to not withhold that staff member's federal income tax.
(Approved by the FUM General Board, October 25, 1988)
In response to global violence, we call the church to . . . be steadfast in our refusal to participate in, train for, pay for, or profit from the use of military violence.
(From "And No One Shall Make Them Afraid:" A Mennonite Statement on Violence)
The Mennonite Church
Resolution on Military Tax Withholding
1. That the Mennonite Church General Board facilitate the church's continued study of issues raised by taxation for military purposes. These issues include:
a. The church-state issues raised by the collection of taxes by church agencies, paying particular attention to our history, and the action of other groups within our faith family.
b. The payment of the military portion of taxes by individuals.
c. Church institutions responding to employees who, for the sake of conscience request that the military portion of their income taxes not be withheld/forwarded.
Proposed steps by which the Mennonite Church General Board would facilitate these studies are:
a. Preparing study materials related to the issue (gathered from historical committee, General Conference materials, etc.).
b. Planning for a consultation using these materials to which conference would be encouraged to send teams of persons who would, in turn, guide conference studies.
c. Gathering a sense of direction from the conferences that work at it for a report to Assembly 91.
2. That conferences and congregations be urged to provide financial and other support for the Peace Tax Fund options being proposed in both Canada and the United States. We call each household in the Mennonite Church to commit itself to a contribution of at least $5.00 to the Peace Tax Fund campaigns in Canada and the US as well as to write letters of support for the legislation to the appropriate elected officials. This effort will be coordinated by the Peace Staff person at MBCM.
3. That, in cases where members have a conscience against paying the portion of their income tax used for military purposes, and where they are now able to resist the collection of that part of their taxes, we encourage our congregations to be supportive by:
a. Studying the pertinent biblical texts and praying together.
d. Sharing in the sorrow and joy of being misunderstood by other Christians as well as those exercising power over us.
4. That the Normal 89 General Assembly delegates (a) support the Mennonite General Board in establishing a policy that federal income taxes not be withheld from the wages of any of its employees who make this request because of conscientious objection to the use of their taxes for military purposes, and (b) support other church boards and agencies that may adopt similar policies.
(Adopted by the Mennonite Church General Assembly, August 3, 1989)
Pax Christi USA
As Christians we share responsibility for how our tax dollars are spent. Though it is true that no one is totally pure of social sin, some feel compelled to take action to reduce their culpability. The choices are many and often difficult. Tax resistance, or some form of tax protest, is one option many have chosen. For many that is just a starting point.
Though it is not the policy of Pax Christi USA and the Pax Christi USA Center on Conscience and War to promote tax resistance as such, we do feel it deserves consideration, respect, and support as a very important form of opposition to modern war. Certainly those who have taken their stand against participation in the armed forces will want to consider this additional form of conscientious objection.
(From Conscience and Tax Resistance, Reflection Guide Series #4, January 1985)
Presbyterian Church (USA)
On Seeking Means to Support Employees Who Wish to Engage in War Tax Resistance—From the Presbytery of de Christo.
Whereas, War tax resistance is recognized by the Presbyterian Church (USA) as a witness to peacemaking, as evidenced on pages 12 and 13 of the document "Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age" from the 200th General Assembly (1988); and
Whereas, The current policy of the PC (USA) is to automatically withhold taxes from the salaries of its employees; and
Whereas, The result is that it is impossible for employees of the PC (USA) to express their opposition to war and military spending as a matter of faith by engaging in tax resistance; and
Whereas, There is currently no means by which a United States citizen can designate their tax toward peaceful ends; and
Whereas, An employee of the Global Mission Ministry Unit now working within the bounds of the Presbytery of de Christo wishes to withhold his taxes from the United States Government as an expression of his commitment to peace and nonviolence that grows out of his faith; and
Whereas, Others, for reasons of faith, conscience, and social witness, may wish to withhold all or part of their tax to express their opposition to war or a military option as a path to peacemaking and resolving conflict; and
Whereas, The Internal Revenue Service of the United States currently holds that it is illegal for an employer to support such persons of conscience either by refusing to withhold their taxes or by calling such employees "contract labor" and allowing them to file their own income taxes; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the Presbytery of de Christo overture the 203rd General Assembly (1991) to . . .
2. Actively support the congressional bills calling for the creation of the United States Peace Tax fund, which would allow U.S. citizens to share the burden of government without paying for war; and
3. Seek to change the regulations of the Internal Revenue Service that make it illegal for an employer to stop withholding an employee's tax, recognizing that such withholding makes the PC (USA) an agent of the Internal Revenue Service of the United States Government.
(Overture 91-57, 203rd General Assembly, 1991)
The 200th General Assembly (1988) recognized an additional method of conscience of objection: the refusal to pay that portion of one's income tax which funds military spending. The 203rd General Assembly (1991) revisited this issue by confronting the personnel practices of the church. The church, as an employer, incorporated under the laws of the various states, withholds taxes for some of its employees. At least one employee wished, in 1990, to express his commitment to peacemaking by refusing to pay that portion of his required tax which supported military expenditures, and, instead, pay an equal amount into a United States Peace Tax Fund. The Assembly heard his plea of conscience, sought relief from the church's required role as collector of "war taxes," and encouraged alternative, peaceful ways to support governments.
(From Presbyterian Social Witness Policy Compilation)
In response to the knowledge that some United Presbyterians will be led by conscience to make their witness against the war in ways such as fasting, symbolic witness in public places, refusal to cooperate with the Selective Service System, refusal to pay certain federal taxes voluntarily and that some such acts may entail civil disobedience.
1. Urge the prayerful support of the whole church for persons who engage in such individual acts of conscience.
2. Authorize the Office of the General Assembly and encourage synods, presbyteries, and sessions to develop appropriate legal and ecclesiastical support for those persons who engage in such acts, provided that these acts are nonviolent and are taken with readiness to accept the legal consequences of conscientious refusal to obey laws considered unjust.
(1972 Statement, UPCUSA)
Witherspoon Street, Louisville, KY 40202; www.pcusa.org
be justified under the moral standards expressed in the just-war criterion
a. Our moral opposition to the development or deployment of new
objection in previous decisions of our synod, noting that the policy stands “quite contrary to that of our church” (Acts of Synod 1973, p. 738). Under this policy, our members “have no legal recourse” (Acts of Synod 1973, p. 738).
c. We have made strong statements concerning the obligation of our members to obey the national authority but also that our ultimate loyalty is to God. We also recognize our church’s pastoral responsibility to counsel and support commitment to that ultimate loyalty when conscientious objection is based on “intelligent and adequate grounds to be convinced that the given war to which he is summoned is an unjust war” (Acts of Synod 1939, p. 249)
d. We have pastoral responsibilities as previously outlined in the Acts of Synod 1977.
the peacebuilding components of its foreign policy.
The following negative vote is registered: Curtis L. Dubay (Hackensack).
6. That synod refer the study report, adopted recommendations, and supplemental materials to the churches for study, debate, discussion, and prayerful
United Church of Christ
Whereas, Past General Synods of the United Church of Christ consistently have supported Christians who conscientiously opposed actions of the state that would force them to disobey the will of God as they understand it in Jesus Christ our Lord; and
Whereas, Many of our own people are deeply troubled by the large numbers of tax revenues spent for military expenditures, particularly nuclear weapons and their potential for destruction of human life on earth created by God; and
Whereas, An increasing number of Christians find it unconscionable to pay taxes that might lead to such destruction;
Therefore, Be it Resolved, That [this Synod] recognizes such agonies of conscience, supports and wishes to hold in communion those who, for reasons of conscience, refuse to pay taxes they believe will lead to war and to human destruction; and . . . requests the Office for Church in Society to develop a network of support for such persons who conscientiously resist war tax payments.
(Fourteenth General Synod, 1983) United States Peace Tax Fund Act
Whereas, The United Church of Christ and Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) have supported their members and others who conscientiously are opposed to participation in war; and
Whereas, The UCC Office for Church in Society and the Disciples of Christ Peace Fellowship support a Peace Tax Fund; and
Whereas, Those who are conscientiously opposed to participation in military action should be provided an opportunity to indicate their opposition by directing their tax payments toward non-military expenditures; and
Whereas, General Synod XV called upon the denomination to become a Just Peace Church; and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) adopted peace with justice as a priority at its 1981 General Assembly; and
Whereas, Peace Tax Fund bills have been introduced in the House (HR 3032) and the Senate (S 1468); and
Whereas, These bills are to amend the current Internal Revenue Code in order to provide that a taxpayer conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form may elect to have such taxpayer's income, estate or gift tax payments spent only for non-military purposes, and to create the United States Peace Tax Fund to receive such tax payments to be administered by a United States Peace Tax Fund Board of Trustees; and
Whereas, The New York Conference of the United Church of Christ has voted to support the Peace Tax Fund Bills (HR 3032 and S 1468);
Therefore, Be it Resolved, The Sixteenth General Synod of the United Church of Christ goes on record in support of a "Peace Tax Fund;" and
Be it Finally Resolved, The Sixteenth General Synod encourages National Offices and Instrumentalities, Conferences, Associations, local churches and members to support the Peace Tax Fund and communicate their support to elected representatives.
(Sixteenth General Synod, June 1987)
[Washington Office], 110 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC, 20002; www.ucc.org
Reviving our capacity to love has become an urgent political necessity as the superpowers come to regard millions of their neighbors as nothing more than expendable enemy populations in a nuclear exchange. We face unimaginable destruction unless our hearts are enlarged to recognize a neighbor in the face of our enemy. The possibility of nuclear annihilation shows Jesus' simple but long-ignored exhortation to love our enemies to be a politically relevant and necessary position. . . .
Refusing the call to arms is based on the fundamental moral reality that there is no longer any threat greater than war itself. . . .
The members of Sojourners Fellowship have determined to refuse the call to arms at every point. . . . Further, we advocate that others likewise refuse. . . . For those above draft age, the present situation should occasion a fresh look at the contradiction of paying for war with our tax dollars and at the risks we are taking for peace. . . .
In ignoring Jesus' words, we in the church have sacrificed our vocation of being an obstacle to war. We must reclaim that vocation now.
(From "Refusing The Call to Arms," by Jim Wallis, March 1980)
Non-payment of war taxes has been a vital concern for Sojourners. . . . We could not oppose war in every other way and then help pay for it. . . .
The payment of taxes is the most basic, and from the government's point of view, most important way that we support the policies of the state. With hardly an afterthought, American Christians in recent times have given more money to underwrite military destruction and help build the most massive arsenal in human history than we have given to pay for relief, service, evangelism, missions, social action, and all the programs of the churches combined.
The state's demand for war taxes puts many Christians in a dilemma in which peace claims their commitment but war claims their money. Personal and corporate response to the payment of war taxes is a thorny and serious question, one which must become a matter of much more public discussion and discernment in the Christian community.
With the heightening nuclear arms race and the widening conflict in Central America, our stand on war tax resistance has remained resolute: we cannot with good conscience provide our government, through our tax dollars, with the necessary means for its nuclear threats and ideological military exploits.
(From "Revive Us Again: A Sojourner's Story," by Jim Wallis, Abingdon Press, 1983)
Unitarian Universalist Association
Sharing in the New Call to Peacemaking
Whereas, A basic principle of the Unitarian Universalist Association is to "implement the vision of one world by striving for a world community founded on ideals of brotherhood, justice, and peace;" and
Whereas, Delegates of the historic peace churches—Friends, Mennonites, and Brethren— gathered last October for a New Call to Peacemaking Conference and issued a statement of findings;
Be it Resolved, That the 1979 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association expresses its admiration and gratitude to those who participated in this peacemaking effort, and especially supports the following calls to peacemaking:
I. Strengthening our local base by:
B. Encouraging local groups to engage in ecumenical and public dialogue on peace issues and promoting the peace witness in their communities.
C. Urging the development of support groups within congregations for those individuals who are working at peace issues (such as war tax resistance, simple lifestyles, and nonviolent action).
D. Recommending the development of mediation/reconciliation teams who can assist in conflict resolution in families, congregations, the community and beyond.
II. Developing a Peacemaking Lifestyle in: A. Personal Relationships.
The Assembly encourages creative love and respect for the integrity of each person, starting with the members of our families, and urges the speaking of truth in love, and the confronting of personal and structural wrongs, and the demonstration of forgiving love, and the use of cooperation rather than competition.
B. Economic Decisions.
1. Examine our personal and corporate stewardship of money. 2. Conserve natural resources.
4. Become more discerning in financial decisions either by taking direct action to influence investments in banks and institutions or by withdrawing investments in banks and institutions which serve militarism, economic exploitation or unjust governments, and investing rather in life-enhancing enterprises.
III. Confronting Militarism and the Arms Race.
1. Support the United Nations initiatives for disarmament, the United States- Soviet Strategic Arms Limitations Talks, and the use of national debate on these talks.
2. Call upon our government to take these initial steps towards disarmament (thus challenging other governments to do the same):
a. Reduce military spending by 10% in the coming year.
c. Halt arms transfers to other countries. B. Conversion to a Peace Economy.
The Assembly asks Unitarian Universalists to support:
1. Research and action toward economic conversion to non-military production, with assistance for those who are temporarily unemployed during the process.
2. Transfer of tax monies from the military budget to programs meeting human needs.
C. War Tax Resistance.
The Assembly challenges ourselves and our congregations to uphold war tax resisters with spiritual, emotional, legal, and material support.
D. World Peace Fund.
In keeping with our past support of alternative service provisions for conscientious objectors to the draft, the Assembly urges support for congressional enactment of a World Peace Tax Fund as an alternative to compulsory financial support of war and preparation for war.
(1979 General Resolution)
The United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church, a Protestant denomination representing eight and a half million members in the United States, strongly supports those who conscientiously object to the payment of taxes for military purposes and has long supported legal recognition of this position. As the public policy agency of the United Methodist Church, The General Board of Church and Society welcomes the introduction of H.R. 1870, the U.S. Peace Tax Fund Bill, and hopes your committee will incorporate its provisions into tax law. When enacted, this bill will finally grant religious rights to those people who, out of their faith in God, cannot conscientiously contribute to the military budget.
Loyal U.S. taxpayers who are also faithful believers in God earnestly desire to contribute to our nation's financial and moral strength by paying income tax. The Peace Tax Fund Bill will provide the way for them to pay their taxes with the assurance that they are not acting in opposition to their strong religious beliefs.
These people do not wish to opt out of tax payment. They deeply desire to participate in the U.S. system. H.R. 1870 provides for full payment of taxes, a portion of which would go to the U.S. Peace Tax Fund to be used to support economic conversion from military production and other peace-related efforts.
The General Conference of the United Methodist Church, which is a democratically elected policy-making body of our church, has said, "We . . . support all those who conscientiously object to . . . the payment of taxes for military purposes, and we ask that they be granted legal recognition" (The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 1988; p. 554). Two weeks ago at our 1992 General Conference in Louisville, Kentucky, the United Methodist Bishops stated prophetically that a common enemy to all humanity is militarism.
The General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, in keeping with this policy, supports its employees who choose to contribute a portion of their income tax to peace-making activities, equivalent to that percentage which would fund the military budget.
I urge you to speak strongly in support of this bill with your colleagues and to enact H.R. 1870 to bring about full rights for faithful U.S. citizens and residents who desire to live their faith as they believe God commands them to do. Our country has a unique and powerful tradition of religious liberty. Please continue that example and witness by creating the U.S. Peace Tax Fund. Thank you.
(Testimony of Mr. Jaydee Hanson, Assistant General Secretary, General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church before the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, House Ways and Means Committee on H.R. 1870, The U.S. Peace Tax Fund Bill, May 21, 1992)
The U.S. Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
We have long supported those persons who cannot in conscience pay taxes in support of war. We believe they should be granted the same legal recognition as that granted to conscientious objectors to military service. Toward that end, we recognize the work of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF). The NCPTF advocates for legislation by the United States Congress to establish a Peace Tax Fund.
The purpose of the Peace Tax Fund legislation is to:
—provide each individual the right not to be coerced into any form of participation in killing other human beings—whether that participation is physical or financial;
—offer conscientious objectors the right to pay their full tax obligation without violating deeply held religious or ethical beliefs; and
—give those who are conscientiously opposed to war because of religious or ethical beliefs the right not to have legal penalties imposed because of those beliefs.
We believe all persons have these rights based in the freedom to exercise their beliefs according to dictates of conscience. To that end, we support the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and affirm the work it does on behalf of those who conscientiously object to payment of taxes for war.
(Resolution of The United Methodist Church, 1996)
For further information, contact: General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church, 100 Maryland Avenue NE, Washington, DC 20002; <gbcs@umc- gbcs.org>; www.umc-gbcs.org