TOP TEN REASONS MENNONITES NO LONGER RESIST PAYING WAR TAXES
10. It would make me look bad with my non-Mennonite friends.
In recent years it seems that Mennonites have become more concerned about what people think of us. We are less prone to be different today, especially with folks we know who are not Mennonite. We want to fit in and go to great pains to do so.
9. As citizens of this country we need to support our government with our taxes.
There was a time when Mennonites thought of themselves as sojourners in this land with God as the ultimate authority in their lives. However, as we have become more settled and more comfortable we have accepted the idea that we should support our government, right or wrong. Including the payment of taxes for war.
8. Jesus would never ask me to break the law by refusing to pay for war.
The Bible is full of examples of followers of Jesus who ended up in jail or even killed. It takes considerable mental gymnastics to somehow think that we should be able to be faithful and not have to stand up against the evils of society. If we are opposed to war as a matter of faith and conscience, we must be willing to break the law in order to be faithful. Very few of us even support the passage of Peace Tax Fund legislation which would make it legal for us to use our tax dollars for peaceful purposes only.
7. Conscientious objection to war doesn't carry over to paying for war.
For centuries Mennonites have conscientiously opposed war and refused to serve in the armed forces. Finally, in 1940, the US government allowed us to perform alternative service instead. Today there is no longer a draft. However, the equivalent of the draft today is paying taxes for war. True conscientious objectors in the 21st century must refuse to pay for war as well.
6. What would my children think? What kind of example is that for them?
War tax resisters have a unique opportunity to talk with their children about what it means to truly follow Jesus. It is important for young Christians to know that there some issues which are significant enough that we are willing to resist them even if it will cause us hardship. What better example could we give our children?
5. War and defense spending are necessary in today's world. Pacifism really doesn't work.
This change has been subtle. But, like everyone else in our US society, we have come to understand and accept the fact that war is inevitable. Along with that has come a change in our own belief that nonresistance or pacifism is really not viable in solving world problems. Plus, we no longer face the draft, which at least forced us to deal with whether we still are nonresistant Christians or not. And so we pay for war.
4. Matters of conscience have been trumped by our accommodation to our culture of materialism/consumerism.
One of the most significant factors in the loss of commitment to conscientious objection and consequently our resistance to payment of war taxes has been Mennonites accommodation to our consumer society. We have bought in to materialism. We like to have things. We want things we don't need. We are products of our society. Along the way, conscience got usurped.
3. Jesus changed his mind - sacrificial living is no longer required of Christians.
Most of us would never really say this out loud. But the reality is that, for some unknown reason, we 21st century Mennonites have come to the understanding that since we live in a so-called "Christian" nation, we should not really have to sacrifice anymore. That the Christian life shouldn't really be taxing or troubling. That somehow we are past sacrifice and Christians should be comfortable and secure and free from making significant sacrifice in order to be faithful.
2. The government can use my tax money any way they want, so I really have no control over where they are used.
There are some among us who feel that it makes no difference whether we call our taxes war taxes or not, the government can use them any way they want to. It's all interchangeable, so we have absolutely no control over how it's spent, and it is totally the government's responsibility. We're free of moral duty. We're off the hook. This sounds like a Mennonite copout! If our conscience/beliefs call us to resist paying for war, how can we not try even if we don't control all the variables?
1. Let the Quakers do it.
One of the major reasons we haven't been resolute about resisting war taxes is that we expect there are others out there who will do it so that we don't have to. As long as someone is standing up for conscience and keeping the witness against war and paying for it, then it isn't necessary for me to do it. Let's hear it for the Quakers.