Steuern zu Pflugscharen
by Hannelore Morgenstern-Przygoda
Hannelore steps into Martin Arnold's shoes this year. After a decade of involvement in war tax resistance, Martin has withdrawn to rest and re-orientate himself. This March, group members from all over Germany managed to spread some of the essential tasks for keeping up the work amongst themselves. The new speaker and contact person is Lutz-E Bohr.
Whilst we lost Martin's competence, we win more contact with staff members in the eastern parts of Germany, and access to new decisive peace-positions. The discussion about the relationship between church and state (because spiritual welfare work with the armed forces) and about civil obedience (because of sanctuary asylum) might improve further discussions of war tax resistance.
At the top level of the Protestant church hierarchy there has been one meeting with war tax resistors and a synod vote that does not help or hinder us; it gave an intention to discuss war tax resistance, but other topics got priority and our subject got lost within the structures. We are trying to find ways into this big institution with all partners.
Another regional church has decided to re-animate the dialogue with resisters, delegated to the Committee 'Mission and Ecumenical Movement'.
In January 1995, the Synod of our regional church voted for non-violent activities (later even banned landmines). The Synod respects the personal decision for pacifist tax resistance by biblical conscience and understands it as a Christian peace witness, wants to protect resisters against discrimination and to keep up the dialogue. But tax resisters have to take individual responsibility for the consequences of their actions. After this vote there were no more official activities on our subject (until they sent Hannelore as a delegate to this conference). The informal dialogue with our group continues. Referring to this Synod vote, six church employees in Cologne intend to refuse part of their income tax for a month during autumn 1996.
The regional Peace Committee worked intensively on 'peace brigades'. Recently 13 'Shalom-deacons' finished their training - now ways for financing their missions have to be found. Negotiations between peace organisations and the government about 'Civil Peace Service / ZFD' (qualification and mission in Bosnia) were stopped because of 'lack of money' in April 1996. The regional church leadership voted for this service and was ready to give money. Presently the committee concentrates on participating in the 'Overcoming Violence' programme.