I picked out the person in my congregation that I thought would be most sympathetic in my decision to be a war tax resister. He had been a conscientious objector in WW II and served in Civilian Public Service. However, he was flatly against the idea.
I was disappointed but it reinforced what I had been discovering: that a congregation made up of people who became members for a variety of reasons cannot unite behind controversial issues: ending the death penalty, a letter campaign to stop the war, or taking sides in issues such as migrant labor, abortion or the rights of gay people. Supporters of social justice don't think alike. Even married couples had to arrange finances so one could resist war taxes and one would not.
One learning is that for promoting/witnessing on some peace concerns one has to find a support group outside a local peace church.
A second learning is that war tax redirection is not very discussable with people not considering it. Our local peace tax group made copies of a CD that dealt with various kinds of war tax resistance ranging from legal to civil disobedience. We advertised its availability in our Mennonite denomination but couldn't find adult church groups interested in using it for discussion. We pondered the meaning of the reaction of silence.
A third learning came from trying to be helpful on civil disobedience. We reported that IRS was respectful of sincerely held religious convictions but unyielding. The IRS would send the usual threats but in the end simply take the money, interest and penalties. The extra costs for resistance might raise the amount owed to the IRS by 20 percent if one waited for the IRS to get around to taking it from a bank account or social security payments. However, there were no agents visiting us, or requests to appear in court. That could happen if the war tax resister tried to hide bank accounts, refused to file a form, or treated IRS agents with contempt. But even though the penalties for civil disobedience were mild, it didn't seem to matter. The third lesson is that civil disobedience is a fearful barrier with its unlikely but unknown consequences to growth of this movement.
A fourth lesson is patience. We sought new ways of presenting the issue such as mailing pie charts showing the government's military spending contrasted with spending on needs of citizens, offering a slice of pizza and a pie chart at the post office on April 15 to people mailing tax forms, penny polls, conference resolutions, information table at church conferences, articles, letters to editors and legislators.
One effort is a "Stations of the Cross" walk carrying a cross downtown in Newton on Good Friday. The "stations" are the jail, employment office, Pay Day Loan office, the cannon in Military Park, a bank to remind us of the foreclosure crisis, Peace Connections, a school Mexican restaurant to remind us of the immigration issue, Offender Victim Ministries, etc. We stop, read a statement about what money spent for war could do, pray and carry the cross to the next "station". The pie chart is our handout. Many have joined us on this walk.
In other words, we keep seeking opportunities to rethink support of the militaristic world power we are part of.
Is this renewing? It is for me. War tax redirection reminds me who I serve and why I am here. The fellowship with other redirectors is as renewing as worship with fellow Christians. War tax redirection helps me understand in a deeper way what it is to be a Jesus follower. That is what it is all about.