Relationship between peace tax / war tax resistance and the churches
Composition of group: 11 Quakers (English, Scottish, USA)
Each member gave an account of their position within their church.
Amongst British Quakers, there is a wide spectrum of involvement in this issue, ranging from no interest or support, to taking the matter of tax refusal to the European Court of Human Rights. Recently, the Parliamentary Ombudsman has given a favourable judgment - this is a real breakthrough.
In the United States, Philadelphia Quakers have a history of religious action, and new staff are introduced to the issue as part of their induction. A case of tax refusal was lost at the Federal Court in the 1980s, but the 1993 Religious Freedoms Restoration Act may be able to reverse this earlier ruling.
Members of the Church of England generally felt isolated within their own churches, although Anglicans are well represented in the peace movement nationally. One London church is very supportive of peace and justice campaigns generally, but the issue of peace tax has not been specifically raised to any degree. The member of the Protestant church in the Netherlands also felt there was little support from the local churches for this issue.
The Rhineland Regional Church: this church is not a 'peace church', but there are a number of staff who are concerned about conscientious objection to taxation for military purposes The church has said they would protect staff members involved in war tax resistance. It was suggested that the European churches should work together, besides just individuals making their own stands.
In the United States, the central Mennonite body officially supports the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, and they have instructed local congregations to support members who refuse taxes. The Mennonites are historically a 'peace church', and refuse to do military service. However, the Mennonite in this workshop felt that support for war tax resistance in Mennonite circles was patchy. As a community, concerted action could make a difference, but the enthusiasm is not there. Mennonites were involved in the '10,000' letters campaign.