Pope Francis

Pope Francis visiting rehab hospital
Photograph produced by Agência Brasil and published under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Brazil License

I am not a Catholic in the Holy Roman Church sense, and indeed have long had a distrust of organized religion because of its historic role in perpetration of and tolerance for violence—the infamous bloody Crusades not being the only such example in the annals of the Catholic Church.

HOWEVER,

I have been wanting for some time to write a post on the remarkable new leader of the Catholic Church—Pope Francis I. As another Easter approaches—a holiday celebrated by millions around the world, Catholic and otherwise—I find myself longing to hear that people are really listening to his messages of peace and social justice.

Here are just a few excerpts from his recent APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION, “to the bishops, clergy, consecrated persons and the lay faithful on the proclamation of the gospel in today’s world”

*Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality….

*Today in many places we hear a call for greater security. But until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed, it will be impossible to eliminate violence. The poor and the poorer peoples are accused of violence, yet without equal opportunities the different forms of aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.

These messages are catholic in the sense of “universal’ and “wide-ranging” and what a miracle it would be if they could spark a renewed commitment to the sense of brotherhood, and sisterhood that are essential to peace and social justice.

Posted in Champions of peace | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Way to Struggle against Militarism: War Tax Resistance

By guest author Erica Weiland

[note from KMM: One of the objectives of the Engaging Peace blog is to encourage activism in support of peace and in opposition to war. We strive to educate our readers about different approaches to activism. Today we offer a timely perspective from Erica Weiland, a guest author representing the National War Tax Coordinating Committee.]

taxprotesters

Photo by Ed Hedemann, provided by the author.

Year after year, the US government spends money disproportionately for war. Different organizations calculate military expenditure differently, but whether the figure is 27%, 40%, 45%, or 57%, a large chunk of your income tax dollars supports payments for current and past wars and treatment for veterans.

If you’ve ever marched in the street, written letters to Congress, organized civil disobedience actions, prayed for peace, donated to an anti-war organization, or complained about this country’s spending, you know something about putting your time, effort, and money into a movement struggling against war. Another tactic some Americans (and people elsewhere) have adopted is to withdraw their financial support from the government that perpetrates wars.

Methods of war tax resistance can be legal or illegal, on a wide spectrum of risk, with a variety of potential consequences.

Resisters can, for example:

*legally refuse to pay taxes by lowering their taxable income,

*commit an act of civil disobedience by refusing to pay some or all of the taxes owed to the IRS,

*refuse to pay the federal excise tax on local telephone service, which is historically a war tax.

People all over the United States, earning different incomes and in different family and life situations, practice war tax resistance.

Their motivations vary. Some resist

*for reasons of conscience,

*in hopes of growing a movement of war tax resisters to reduce or stop war spending,

*to create a legal precedent for “peace taxes” that can’t be spent for war.

The National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee is the only national organization devoted to supporting and informing current and potential war tax resisters, helping people get all the information they need to make decisions about resisting war taxes. If you are tired of supporting the war machine with your tax dollars, check them out.

Erica Weiland is the social media consultant for the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee.

 

Posted in War tax | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Are YOU guilty of a war crime?

To put the question differently: Do you pay taxes?

If you do, you may be committing a war crime.

Demonstration against war taxes.

Demonstration against war taxes. Photo by Joe Mabel, used under Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. From Wikimedia Commons.

Tax Rebellion, a group active in the United Kingdom, argues that “Under the international laws of war, it is a criminal offense to pay tax to a Government which is waging illegal war.”

The group goes on to argue that the wars against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya are all illegal, violating the Treaty for the Renunciation of War of 1928 (also known as the Kellogg-Briand Pact) and the United Nations Charter.

They quote the judges from the Nuremberg trials at the end of World War II:

“War is essentially an evil thing.  Its consequences are not confined to the belligerent states alone, but affect the whole world.  To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

The United States government is involved in acts of aggression around the world, with most of these kept successfully out of the awareness of ordinary citizens.

Iin the United States, one group that is devoted to educating the public concerning financial and human costs of aggression and promoting the use of tax money for peace, not war, is the Peace Economy Project. Visit their site and learn all kinds of things you probably didn’t know—including the “wide range of operations in Africa, including airstrikes targeting suspected militants,  and night raids aimed at kidnapping terror suspects…”

Kathie Malley-Morrison, Professor of Psychology

Posted in Economy and war | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments