The Common Good

Give to Uncle Sam What is Uncle Sam's: Tax Season War Resistance

1100325-incometaxImagine what would happen if a massive popular movement of ordinary Americans decided to voice their concern about military spending -- by withholding $10.40 from their 1040 tax forms this year? A simple, small, symbolic, but concrete gesture of protest to the $200,000 dollars per minute being spent on militarism, while programs that support life go bankrupt. A few months ago I gathered in Lancaster, Pennsylvania with hundreds and hundreds of church leaders to ponder such a thing -- a little project called 1040 For Peace. Many of the folks in attendance were from the Anabaptist "peace church" tradition of Christianity. Mennonites and Brethren, like the Amish, come from the Anabaptist movement, tracing back to the radical reformation of the 16th century. They, along with the Quakers are known for their commitment to peace, a simple way of life, and for their suspicion of power. They also have a history of war-tax resistance.

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Money has power. And so withholding money has power too, especially when a bunch of people do it together. If one percent of U.S. taxpayers held back $10.40 as an act of respectful protest, that's nearly $1.5 million folks. Movements are like snowballs, they start small, but get big pretty fast (as we can see in recent events in Wisconsin, or in Egypt). And movements grow real fast in an age of Facebook

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