March 19, 2008
To the people working in the IRS, to President Bush, to Senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, and to Congressman C.W. Bill Young:
This is my annual letter of conscience and plea to my government to begin to respect the consciences and religious freedom of those of us who are opposed to war. It is also my plea for us all to respect the basic human needs of our impoverished and war-devastated sisters and brothers around the world.
I am writing during the Christian penitential season of Lent, as our country enters the sixth year of waging war in Iraq and Afghanistan, supposedly for our security. Yet our true security is threatened by many of the actions of our own government and populace. Our addiction to oil (even President Bush acknowledges this addiction) is leading not only to these continuing wars, but also to the rapid depletion of the earth’s petroleum deposits, and this feeds directly into global climate change. Climate change threatens our very ability to maintain a livable human habitat. If our government truly is concerned about our national security, then we must redirect large amounts of our resources from war-making to actions like development of solar and wind energy, truly sustainable agriculture which will help feed all of us on this planet, protecting the world’s clean water, etc.
I am participating in the 2008 War Tax Boycott by redirecting $150 of my income tax to a group which helps to build true peace and security, starting with children and families. This is an important spiritual discipline for me. As Henry David Thoreau wrote during the Mexican-American War of 1846–48 “If a thousand [people] were not to pay their tax-bills this year, that would not be a violent and bloody measure, as it would be to pay them, and enable the State to commit violence and shed innocent blood. This is, in fact, the definition of a peaceable revolution, if any such is possible.”
I have paid the rest of the income tax (shown on my 1040 for 2007) to the U.S. Treasury, with deep regret at this violation of my conscience, since approximately 7% of our income tax will fund the Iraq and Afghanistan wars/occupations and an additional 44% will fund the other military operations, including ongoing preparations for nuclear war. (See the enclosed “Where your income tax money really goes” or go to http://www.warresisters.org/piechart.htm).
My commitment to Jesus Christ, who taught love of enemies and refused to use violence in his work of liberating all of us, requires that I redirect this symbolic portion of income tax. Each year my government essentially requires that I violate my conscience. The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill, which has been proposed annually in Congress since 1972, would allow citizens like myself (conscientious objectors to war) legal alternative service for the military portion of our income taxes. For more information on this bill see http://www.peacetaxfund.org/thebill/why-a-ptf.htm . Until that bill passes I continue to struggle with this annual violation of my conscience.
Mary Ann C. Holtz