A public meeting in which historic peace church pastors will speak on war taxes will be held on Saturday, February 8, 2014, 9:00 – 10:30 a.m., at the Akron Mennonite Church, 1311 Diamond Street, Akron, PA 17501. Three pastors will speak– Susan Gascho-Cooke, Community Mennonite Church; Barry Kreider, Pilgrims Mennonite Church; and John Yeatts, Grantham Brethren in Christ Church—followed by time for discussion. All are welcome, with a special invitation to pastors. This event is free; drinks, fruit and pastries will be available.
Three questions will be addressed:
1. How is it that we believe in not physically participating in war (i.e. not enlisting in the military) but cooperate in paying our “war taxes?”
2. Do you personally withhold any of your “war taxes?” Please include a word on why or why not.
3. Have you raised the war tax question in your preaching/teaching? Please comment, why or why not.
Peter Goldberger is an attorney in Ardmore, Pennsylvania (near Philadelphia), who has been counseling and defending conscientious objectors for almost 45 years, including all the 38 years since graduating from Yale Law School. Peter has been a legal adviser to the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee since 1982, and for Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Friends/Quaker) since 1987. He makes his living with a private practice as an appellate lawyer, mostly in federal criminal cases. In that specialty, his professional peers have long recognized him as a Pennsylvania “SuperLawyer” and in “Best Lawyers in America.” Peter received his undergraduate education at Haverford College, majoring in philosophy.
Topics to be covered:
- Perpetual war policy
- Moral consequences of paying taxes
- Legal consequences of nonpayment
- Historical impact of civil disobedience
- Minimizing legal risk
When: March 15, 2014
Where: Friends Meeting House
110 Tulane Terrace
Lancaster, PA 17603
Time: 9 AM – 11 AM
Subject No Longer Raised from Pulpits
(Lancaster PA) The historic peace churches are struggling to find a way to keep their conscientious objection to war relevant and up-to-date. Three peace church pastors acknowledged this reality in a February 8 workshop in Akron, Pennsylvania; none could recall ever preaching on the subject of conscientious objection to war taxes.
Barry Kreider is pastor of Pilgrims Mennonite in Akron, a Lancaster Conference congregation. He began resisting the payment of taxes for war in 1981, shortly after entering the work force, and has continued resisting ever since. “I attended a Keystone Bible Institute class on what a nuclear attack would do to Lancaster County and came away convinced I shouldn’t be paying to prepare for such a war,” he said.
John Yeatts, a pastor at the Grantham Brethren in Christ church in Grantham, PA, recalled how his father, a machinist, had refused to make war products during World War 2. “He was hated for it,” Yeatts said. He also reflected on two texts that frame the Bible’s discussion of taxes. “Romans 13 says ‘pay all that is due’ while Revelation 13 says ‘the beast must be resisted.’” Yeatts posed the question: which scriptural context is most like our current reality here in the United States?
Susan Gascho-Cooke is pastor of Community Mennonite in Lancaster, an Atlantic Coast Conference congregation. She noted that we in the U.S. often benefit from unjust and exploitive systems but “things are set up in such a way that we never see how those benefits came to be.” People should respond with compassion when they become more aware of injustice, she said, and be persuaded not just by appeals to moral purity.
Kreider and Yeatts agreed that neither purity nor protest resonates with church people who annually face the prospect of paying a share of the cost of America’s many wars. But witness may. “Jesus’s final instructions were that we are to be his witnesses,” said Yeatts, “and Revelation is filled with the language of witness.”
1040 for Peace sponsored the workshop. Twenty-five people attended. A second workshop focused on the legal consequences of tax resistance is scheduled for March 15 at the Friends Meeting House in Lancaster.
Berry Friesen, Reporter
KINGIAN NONVIOLENCE CONFLICT RECONCILIATION TRAINING
Saturday and Sunday January 18, 19, 2014
9 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday 2– 8 p.m. on Sunday
Akron Mennonite Church 1311 Diamond Street, Akron, PA
Learn Martin Luther King, Jr.’s principles of nonviolence from a Palestinian Christian! An intensive experiential workshop giving participants a comprehensive introduction to Martin Luther King, Jr.’s philosophy and strategy of nonviolence will be held at the Akron (Pa.) Mennonite Church on January 18-19, 2014—the weekend commemorating King’s birthday! Sponsored by www.1040forPeace.org, these sessions will be facilitated by Tarek Abuata of Washington, DC, a nonviolence trainer who is also Christian Peacemaker Teams’ Coordinator for Palestine. Participation is limited; partial scholarships to offset the $100 workshop fee are available. Indicate your interest with registrar H.A. Penner (email@example.com; 717-859-3529) prior to January 6 to secure your place in this unique opportunity.
Cost–$100 per person for both sessions. Scholarships available upon request.
Send your check to:
Harold A. Penner, 108 South Fifth Street, Akron, PA 17501-1204
Telephone: 717-859-3529; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The workshop is sponsored by
1040forpeace.org, a campaign for symbolic war tax witness and the 1040 CPT Sustainer Team
Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), with offices in Chicago and Toronto, works with partners in Colombia, Iraq, Palestine, First Nations in Canada, etc. to reduce violence and promote peace. http://www.cpt.org
July 2, 2013
IS OUR GOVERNMENT PROTECTING US?
OR CREATING MORE DANGER?
(Lancaster PA) If we want government to protect us from terrorism, we may need to give up some of our civil liberties. But is the U.S. government seeking to protect us from terror? Or is it fomenting terror to control public opinion while pursuing policies that undermine the well-being of the majority?
These are questions that energized a June 30th public forum, “Engaging Terrorism” at the Rohrerstown Mennonite Church in Lancaster PA. Sponsored bywww.1040forPeace.org, a group which seeks to be a witness for conscience in a world addicted to war, the discussion among the 30 participants touched on the Boston bombings, the recent revelations of government surveillance, and military practices that fit the definition of terrorism.
Sam Wanjau, a Kenyan by birth and currently pastor of the African Community Church in Lancaster, provided the conceptual tools for a fresh analysis of terrorism. In his brief history of colonialism in Kenya, Wanjau described how the British promise of “protection from violence” was the primary rationale used to maintain control over the Kenyan people. “It was a lie,” said Wanjau. “The British policies and practices were themselves a form of terrorism. But they were dressed up as protection from violence.”
Now, Wanjau observes analogous U.S. government policies around the world. America’s policy of taking care of only a narrow slice of American interests is provoking international anger, Wanjau said. America needs to reach out to dialogue with the international community.
Tarek Abuata, Coordinator of Christian Peacemaker Teams Middle East programs, spoke of the anger and hate the Israeli occupation has generated among Palestinian people. As a Palestinian by birth, Abuata has personally experienced these emotions. But the way of Jesus and Martin Luther King’s nonviolence training has shown him a more effective way of working with adversaries. “I learned Hebrew so that I could talk with Israeli soldiers,” said Abuata. “I wanted to meet them face-to-face and I wanted them to look into my eyes and see my soul. That’s more powerful than violence.”
In the response that followed the two presentations, participants affirmed that U.S. militarism is playing a primary role in making the world a more dangerous place. How then do we move our nation toward dialogue as the path to peace with justice? Several respondents called for more courage in naming the deception that the government is protecting us from terrorism. “It isn’t working,” said Ken Trauger, a retired United Church of Christ pastor. “What the government does to ‘protect’ us is making us more vulnerable. We must start publicly to say so.”
Harold A. (H.A.) Penner and Berry Friesen, Reporters
1040 for Peace, Lancaster, PA
Telephone: (717) 471-9691
All are invited to “Engaging Terrorism: A Public Discussion after the Boston Bombing” from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 30, at the Rohrerstown Mennonite Meetinghouse, 601 Rohrerstown Road, Lancaster, Pa. 17601. Featured speakers will be Tarek Abuata, coordinator of Christian Peacemaker Team (CPT) in Palestine and Israel, and Rev. Sam Wanjau, pastor of the African Community Church of Lancaster. Sponsored by www.1040forPeace.org, this event will seek creative ways to respond to the impact “terrorism” is having on our society. Bring a sack lunch and eat together at 5:30 p.m.; cold and hot drinks will be provided. A free-will offering will be taken to defray expenses of this event. For further information, contact H.A. Penner at (717) 859-3529.
For a flier with details of the event, click here http://www.1040forpeace.org/wp-content/uploads/1040flyer6301.pdf
That means that for every $1000 that I pay in federal income taxes, $600 goes to the military which means that 60% of my taxes go into war-making ie., killing people.
I believe it would be wrong for me to kill someone even if I wore a soldier’s uniform and killed on orders of the Commander-in-chief. I would be breaking the law of God.
If it is wrong for me to kill someone else in uniform and on orders of the Commander-in-chief, is it not wrong for me to pay the government money to enable it to kill other people? Is that not also a violation of the commandment “Thou shalt not kill“?
In order words am I sinning if I pay my federal taxes knowing that 60% of it (or in other words $600 of every $1000 of my taxes) is used to make weapons and use them to kill people in our wars?
Need I erect an altar to God every evening and pray God to forgive me for the taxes I have paid which were used by the American military to destroy and murder the peoples of the earth?
In his second letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul urges Timothy to be persistent in proclaiming the message of the Messiah Jesus “whether the time is favorable or unfavorable”.
Tax time is not usually considered an opportune moment for the proclamation of the Gospel. But I’m suggesting we rethink that assumption. In another of his letters, Paul wrote to the church in Colosse about how on the cross, the Messiah had “disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them.” Aren’t we remiss if in our annual ritual of filing Form 1040 with the rulers and authorities, we fail to bear witness to that triumph?
But how, you may ask, does one witness to the Reign of God while filing an annual tax return?
1040 for Peace answers that exact question. It is a purposeful plan to convert the unpleasantness of tax time into a sign of the Kingdom. For those who owe taxes and must pay, it means the withholding of $10.40 from the amount due and the sending of letters of explanation to those in authority over us. For those who owe no taxes but still must file a return, the letters remain important. They break the complicity of silence and bear witness to the Way of Jesus.
I began participating in 1040 for Peace in April, 2010. My reasons for doing so are included among the “testimonials” on the 1040forPeace website and I won’t detail them here. In short, I see the act of not paying $10.40 to be an act of witness to the one whose life and death judges all the principalities and powers, including the imperialism and militarism of the United States government.
What has the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) done about our nonpayment? It has sent us letters noting the underpayment. It has tacked on a small amount of interest. I understand we may be required to pay a penalty of up to 25 percent of the underpayment, or $2.60. And the IRS could choose to file criminal charges against us for “willful failure to pay”.
Obviously, the $10.40 is primarily a marker, a sign meant to communicate resolve and sincerity. So after the point is made, some choose to respond to the IRS letters with payment. Others leave the matter for the IRS to resolve, usually through a set-off of money owed by the IRS at a later time.
1040 for Peace doesn’t honor one approach more than the other. This isn’t about our purity, our courage, or besting the IRS. It’s about witness.
The letters we prepare explaining ourselves are not primarily for the IRS. The people working there are functionaries, simply doing their jobs. The witness we make for the Kingdom of God is directed to our members of Congress, where the decisions are made.
Even more importantly, our letters are shared with our congregations, friends and families. The Kingdom of God does not depend on what happens in Washington, D.C. Its power rests in the faithful witness of Jesus the Messiah and his followers. So we practice being faithful witnesses, and we encourage others to do the same.
We do not know what impact the collective witness of faithful Christians may have. During World War II, the witness of conscientious objectors in mental hospitals led to major changes in mental health practices. Was that their goal? It may have been in the thoughts of some, and that would have been a good thing, but probably most were just trying to give a faithful witness to the way of Jesus.
So have a look at the 1040forPeace website. Amid our preparations of Form 1040, does conscience prompt us to join this witness? In witnessing through tax withholding, we’ll be in good company. Dorothy Day, Denise Levertov, Gene Stoltzfus and John Howard Yoder have all been there before us.
Berry Friesen (March 15, 2011)