TO BE FILED WITH MY FEDERAL INCOME TAX RETURN FOR 2010
This is to make known that I pay only a part of my taxes willingly, namely the part that serves the common good without inflicting violence. The part that finances arms, armed forces and warfare is taken from me against my will, and comes into the United States Treasury only because the government has the power to compel payment. However, I would cheerfully give an equivalent amount for peaceful purposes. Colonial and later state governments (East New Jersey, Constitution of 1683; State of New York, before 1841), as well as the U.S. Congress during the Civil War, allowed for the redirection toward non-military purposes of “war taxes” collected from Quakers and other conscientious objectors to war. Why can’t the same accommodation to conscience be made today?
I make this protest because, as a Quaker, I count myself a citizen of the peaceable kingdom of Jesus Christ, who said He was come to save people’s lives, not destroy them (Luke 9:56). He taught His people to love their enemies, and not to resist evil (Matthew 5:39, 44) – certainly not by force of arms, but only with spiritual weapons (as His apostle Paul stated in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, signifying inward weapons of mind and will for the overthrow of “imaginations,” pride, falsehood, distractions from the saving knowledge of God). But this same Jesus, pointing to a coin stamped with Caesar’s image, also bid us render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (Matthew 22:21), and urged non-resistance to those in power (John 18:36), setting an example by disarming Peter at the occasion of His own arrest, when he warned that those who take the sword would perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52). Paul likewise encouraged a respectful obedience to whoever held the reins of secular government (Romans 13). In fact Jesus even had Peter pay tribute money on his behalf to the Roman occupiers “lest we should offend them” (Matthew 17:27).
The Great Peacemaker Jesus having been so compliant with the armed and aggressive civil authorities of His time, there might be no reason at all for me to bear this witness against paying taxes for weapons and war – not if I were merely a subject of the United States Government in the way that Jesus and His disciples were subjects of the Roman Empire. For then I might just comply without protest, with my heart saddened but my conscience unburdened, so long as the government did not directly ask me to disobey commandments of God myself (Acts 5:29).
But I am also a citizen of a democracy that claims to act in my name, and that makes all the difference. The United States was founded on the assumption that governments derive their “just powers from the consent of the governed” (Declaration of Independence, paragraph 2). I must therefore protest that the United States Government does not have the consent of all its governed, and does not act in my name, when it arms men and women to take human life; and I hereby give notice, as I’ve also done with my tax returns in years past, that I would not and do not choose to have any part of my earnings used for a purpose so contrary to the spirit of my rightful and actual King, Jesus Christ.
I urge all who may read this to consider whether their consciences are telling them to do as I do in this matter.