Conscientious objection to paying taxes for killing people

Apr 17, 2012 | News

By David Hartsough
Tuesday, April 17, 2012, 11:59am

Dear Friends,

We are Conscientious Objectors and cannot in conscience kill other human beings. We deeply believe that we are all God’s children and we are all brothers and sisters. Just as we cannot kill our brother who lives in California, we cannot kill our brothers or sisters who live in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq.

Likewise, we cannot in good conscience pay for someone else to kill our brothers and sisters in other parts of the world or pay for the bombs, munitions and guns to kill people even if our government tells us we have to. Nor can we pay for nuclear weapons which could put an end to all human life on our planet.

To fight its wars, our government needs the bodies of young men and women to fight, and money from the rest of us to pay them to fight the wars as well as pay for the bombs, drones, fighter jets and aircraft carriers.

Can we voluntarily contribute to the war effort, which ends up in death for so many of God’s children (and makes our nation ever more insecure and steals precious resources from our communities)?

We believe we have a higher loyalty to God’s law and the whole human race than to our government which spends half our tax dollars on wars – past, present, and future. We are therefore refusing 50% of our taxes which go for war and military expenditures. Each year we write a check to the Department of Human Services rather than the IRS for the 50% of our taxes we do pay and send it along with our 1040 form to the IRS asking that they spend all that money for healing and education, not for killing. And the other 50% (the war portion) we refuse to pay to IRS. Instead we contribute those funds to organizations working to feed the hungry, heal the sick, house the homeless, and work for justice and peace in the world. We send a letter to the IRS explaining why we cannot in conscience pay the war portion of our taxes. We also send copies of the letter to our Members of Congress and the San Francisco Chronicle.

We encourage you to also wrestle with your own consciences on this crucial issue. Can we continue to pray and work for peace and pay for war and killing? To whom do we owe our highest loyalty?

We would love to hear your response to these questions.

In Peace,

David and Jan Hartsough

David and Jan Hartsough are members of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (since 1963 and 2004, respectively) and of the San Francisco Friends Meeting.