The Common Good

My Letter to the IRS: 'I Reserve the Right Not to Kill'

As a Christian, Easter marks the most stunning act of grace and enemy-love in human history -- Jesus' death and resurrection. As Jesus was being tortured and executed, he cried out for mercy, even for those terrorists who hurt him. As his buddy Peter picked up a sword and cut the ear off one of the persecutors, Jesus scolded Peter and picked up the ear and healed the wounded persecutor. The early Christians understood the message -- it was a message of amazing grace. It was a message about how there is something worth dying for, but nothing in the world worth killing for -- not even freedom or democracy. One of the early Christians said, "When Jesus disarmed Peter, he disarmed every Christian." After all, we don't see Christians picking up swords again for hundreds of years.

Take Action on This Issue

Circle of Protection for a Moral Budget

A pledge by church leaders from diverse theological and political beliefs who have come together to form a Circle of Protection around programs that serve the most vulnerable in our nation and around the world.

I am one of those Christians who believes we should still have the right not to kill, even in an empire that has a military bigger than Rome's. Perhaps that's why it has been hard for me to navigate what to do as tax season approaches, with so much of our federal tax money going towards militarism. It was a crisis familiar to the early Christians who were accused of insurrection and tax evasion because they had an allegiance that subverted, or superseded, their national allegiance.

So I respectfully filed my taxes this year, and I sent the IRS the letter below. My intention is to respect my country and contribute to the common good, but also to uncompromisingly follow the way of the nonviolent Jesus this Easter -- in a world that continues to pick up the sword

Sojourners relies on the support of readers like you to sustain our message and ministry.

Resources

Like what you're reading? Get Sojourners E-Mail updates!

Sojourners Comment Community Covenant

I will express myself with civility, courtesy, and respect for every member of the Sojourners online community, especially toward those with whom I disagree, even if I feel disrespected by them. (Romans 12:17-21)

I will express my disagreements with other community members' ideas without insulting, mocking, or slandering them personally. (Matthew 5:22)

I will not exaggerate others' beliefs nor make unfounded prejudicial assumptions based on labels, categories, or stereotypes. I will always extend the benefit of the doubt. (Ephesians 4:29)

I will hold others accountable by clicking "report" on comments that violate these principles, based not on what ideas are expressed but on how they're expressed. (2 Thessalonians 3:13-15)

I understand that comments reported as abusive are reviewed by Sojourners staff and are subject to removal. Repeat offenders will be blocked from making further comments. (Proverbs 18:7)