We can resist

May 27, 2019 by

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There are at least three reasons I support the H.A. Penner/John Stoner proposal (“We’ll Pay for Peace,” April 15) of discussing a Church Peace Tax Fund at the Mennonite Church USA convention in Kansas City, Mo., in July.

— Witness: Promoting a place war-tax refusers can contribute their withheld tax could be like taking a knee during the national anthem or refusing to give up a seat on a public bus. It makes us ask why these people were so upset about what we were taking for granted. An annoying Mennonite fund that supports conscientious tax-lawbreaking in order to protest against family-shattering, refugee-making war also can cause questioning. War-tax refusal might be provocative enough to break a national silence about our worldwide military bases, nuclear stockpile and military spending.

— Method: Anabaptists have focused more on “refusing to be a part of” kinds of witness rather than vying for control or attacking beliefs of soldiers or oath-takers or those worshiping with patriotic hymns. The Peace Tax Fund proposal fits the “refusing to be a part of” tradition.

— Complicity: Our taxes are not the only way we are complicit in the estimated half million deaths from our wars just in Af­ghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. We can’t end our involvement in U.S. military threats no matter how ethically pure we try to be. But some employees of Google working in Artificial Intelligence refused to be a part of using AI to develop weapons, and Google withdrew from that arrangement. Complicity can be questioned in many places: may­be refusing to be a part of the travel ban to Cuba, where we have connections to Anabaptist congregations, or offering sanctuary rath­er than being a part of sending refugees back to death threats.

Stanley Bohn
North Newton, Kan.


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