Welcome to the National Campaign
for a Peace Tax Fund
The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF), based in Washington, D.C., is a not-for-profit 501(c)(4) organization which advocates for passage of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act, H.R. 2377, in the 114th Congress. When enacted, this law will restore the rights of citizens whose conscience does not permit financial participation in any war. This includes both individuals who are members of religious congregations as well as those who are not religious, but have ethical and moral objections to paying for war. Federal taxes of designated conscientious objectors will be placed in a non-military trust fund, enabling the government to obtain needed federal revenue without violating these individuals' right to the free exercise of their beliefs. The Peace Tax Foundation (PTF) is NCTPF's tax-exempt sister 501(c)(3) organization. The Foundation serves to inform the public about the concept of alternative tax payment programs that are based upon moral, ethical, and religious opposition to participation in warfare. See more on the purpose of the NCPTF and PTF.
This Is How You Can Help!
The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund is still active today because of a solid base of dedicated supporters. To have the Peace Tax Fund Bill pass, this base needs to grow. There are four ways you can help to make this happen:
1. Become a Peace Tax Advocate
The primary goal of a Peace Tax Advocate (PTA) is to build long-term relationships with your district representative and senators. If you become a Peace Tax Advocate, you will be part of a cooperative effort with the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund and other supporters within your district and across the U.S. who share your convictions on military spending. The time commitment averages two to three hours a month. E-mail us at email@example.com to receive more details.
2. Refer Others
Do you know others who would be interested in seeing this bill passed? While the long-term goal is to have a Peace Tax Advocate in each of the 435 congressional districts, the short-term goal is to have a volunteer PTA to cover each member of the Ways and Means Committee. Click here (new window) to see the list of members of the Committee. If you know someone in any of the districts represented on this list who would be interested in supporting this cause, please invite them to join us as a PTA.
The NCPTF operates from donations and grants. These funds pay for the staff and office needed to give consistency in communications with legislators and volunteers. As we near the beginning of a new congressional session, the work that needs to be done in Washington, D.C., grows. As donations increase, staff time can also increase, and our work to pass the bill moves forward. If you can help us financially, please donate on-line or send a check to the address below.
4. Staff a Table
If you will be attending a conference or meeting where participants are open to hearing more about the NCPTF and you are willing to set up a table at the event, please let us know. We often don't have the funds to send staff. Table registration fees and literature can be provided.
Persistent Opposition to Paying for War
September 22, 2016
"Persistent Opposition to Paying for War,"* an interview of Dr. David R. Bassett by Sara White, was published on the Church of the Brethren's Messenger Web site (new window) on September 20, 2016:
David R. Bassett, founder of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund, is a person of persistent faith and generous wisdom. His story begins this way:
"I was born in 1928 and I had wonderful parents. They were both in the Congregational Church. I was taught, more by my mother than either parent, that fighting was not a good thing to do. It is a simple phrase for a four-yearold or a six-year-old. I guess at age 10, in 1938, I was aware of the invasion of the Nazis into Czechoslovakia, and of course I remember Pearl Harbor quite well, in 1941 when I was age 13."
World War II began during his adolescent years, and David began to think about how, one day, he would be called to live out his convictions in regard to violence. He cites his church, his parents, and close friends such as a Quaker couple from Philadelphia, the Edgertons, as influential in the development of his thinking. "I came to realize quite young, I think in high school days, that I should not be a soldier," he said. "I wasn't made to be a soldier, I could not be a soldier."
His convictions as a conscientious objector evolved fairly early in his life. "One couldn't help thinking about the [cost of ] paying for war," he says. "I began to think that paying for war is a form of participation in war, and then to think about all of the extensions of that: what am I going to do when I am going to be taxed?"
Upon graduating from medical school in 1953, he faced the doctor's draft and was asked to report to the military. After exchanging upwards of 60 letters with the Selective Service System, he was granted conscientious objector status. He spent the following two years doing alternative service through the American Friends Service Committee. He went to India with his wife, Miyoko Inouye, and their newborn child, to work as a doctor.
For the next several years, David deeply engaged with the idea of how a person of conscience is called to act in regard to paying for war. He discussed this with fellow Friends and interested people throughout the faith community. The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund was founded in 1971 (with a different name at first). The organization's purpose was to encourage legislation creating a legal option for those who conscientiously object to paying for war. David, although himself a war tax resister, understood that not all nonviolent people are inclined to such civil disobedience, and most wish to pay their taxes in full.
The bill, which was first introduced in 1972 and continues to be reintroduced every two years, seeks "to affirm the religious freedom of taxpayers who are conscientiously opposed to participation in war, to provide that the income, estate, or gift tax payments of such taxpayers be used for nonmilitary purposes." One who feels compelled to declare this conscientious objector status would pay the equivalent amount in taxes as other citizens, but these funds would be marked in such a way that they could be used only for nonmilitary purposes.
The organization's work in Washington, D.C., often interacts with similar movements throughout the world. David explains: "I had a feeling that there were other locations holding up this interest starting, I think in some cases, with very little influence from the Washington office, and in other cases with a good deal of back-and-forth." Specifically he mentions work in Brussels, Belgium, another active group in England, and a group in Japan.
David appreciates the many ways that the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund has been fortunate, including use of space provided by the Friends Meeting in Washington, and a generous budget. Most of all, he appreciates the dedicated people with whom he has worked. He tells heart-warming stories of the human aspect of the work, particularly highlighting the spirit of Marian Franz who for a long time was executive director of the campaign.
How does he see the organization moving forward into the future? Through hard work, "as it has always been," he says. But the work is "inspiring if one is committed. Those who stay with it are infused and enthused with the spirit from the beginning. . . . I don't think it takes a great deal, aside from recognizing the importance of who we are and what we are doing."
His advice? "Just carry on and do what you know there is to be done," remembering that "you can be creative and you will not be morose or depressed. . . . You may have some new ideas."
He repeats the classic Quaker conviction to speak the truth. "That is simple to say, but you do that in a way that does not turn people away [and] opens some eyes."
*Used with permission from Messenger (new window).
Bishop Thomas Gumbleton Joins Our Board of Directors
Photo courtesy of Democracy Now!
August 16, 2016
The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund welcomes retired Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Gumbleton to our Board of Directors for a three-year term. Gumbleton, 86, who was ordained to the priesthood in 1956, is also a co-founder of Pax Christi USA, the National Catholic Peace Movement.
The NCPTF supports federal legislation that would give taxpayers a choice to earmark their tax dollars for peaceful purposes instead of weapons and war.
Gumbleton, a pacifist, has a long history of diplomatic missions around the globe as an ambassador for peace. One of the most outspoken anti-war bishops in the U.S. Church, Gumbleton has called on the Church to abandon the so-called "Just-War Criteria," claiming that modern warfare can never be morally justified.
"Bishop Gumbleton's legacy of anti-war work will be invaluable to the peace mission of the Peace Tax Foundation," said PTF Executive Director Jack McHale. "Bishop Gumbleton is going to be a powerful voice in the effort to allow U.S. taxpayers to have a choice to not have to pay for war anymore."
A 2006 profile published in the Catholic Peace Fellowship newsletter said: "Tom Gumbleton is a giant in the American Church; his legacy will endure. Compassion is the lifeline he brings to the people."
In an interview, Gumbleton said: "I'm very happy to be on the board. I have supported this bill since the very beginning. If my presence on the board helps to move it along, I'm certainly very happy to do that.
"I'm utterly opposed to nuclear weapons, and I refuse to pay anything for them. I feel that every citizen should have the right in conscience to reject paying for weapons of mass destruction. You need to find a way to eliminate these weapons off the planet totally, and refusing to pay taxes is one way to begin the effort to get rid of them."
War and Taxes In Our Nuclear Age
It is such a supreme folly to believe that nuclear weapons are deadly only if they're used. The fact that they exist at all, their presence in our lives, will wreak more havoc than we can begin to fathom. Nuclear weapons pervade our thinking. Control our behavior. Administer our societies. Inform our dreams. They bury themselves like meat hooks deep in the base of our brains. They are purveyors of madness. They are the ultimate colonizer. Whiter than any white man that ever lived. The very heart of whiteness.
—Arundhati Roy, The Cost of Living
Those of us who are opposed to warfare in all its forms believe that it is unacceptable that our tax money is used for violence, death and destruction.
For Americans, war is something the U.S. Congress votes on using its constitutional war powers. The U.S. has declared war only five times. The last war declared by Congress was World War II. It gave birth to the nuclear arms race. If an officially declared war by Congress is the only measure of what is defined as a war, the U.S. has been at peace since World War II 71 years ago. However, we know this is not the case.
Since the founding of the American republic, the U.S. Congress has authorized numerous military engagements, waged battle against Native Americans, funded NATO and voted to support the United Nations' authorized military endeavors. Under the present Authorization for Use of Military Force, the U.S. has been engaged militarily in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001. Furthermore, U.S. presidents have ordered military force prior to congressional approval. The U.S. has used its military power to occupy other countries and additionally supports proxy wars and occupations of other nations.
War could be further defined as manufacturing and stockpiling weapons, studying war, planning for war and rehearsing for war, such as last month's NATO exercises in northern Europe. A few years ago, a blogger observed (new window) that the U.S., since its founding, has been in a state of war for all but 7 years. A recent taxpayer-funded RAND Corporation publication, "Reinforcing Deterrence on NATO's Eastern Flank: Wargaming the Defense of the Baltics" (new window), speaks to the way the U.S. can wage and win a war against Russia in the near future. Even local communities are impacted by this system of violence through the military recruitment efforts directed at our children in our schools and the militarization of our local police (new window). War impacts our planet's habitat and climate as reported by Joseph Nevins in "Greenwashing the Pentagon" (new window).
World War II, the last congressionally declared war, ushered in the Cold War and the nuclear arms race after the U.S. used atomic weapons on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Instantly, tens of thousands were incinerated in both cities. Over the following months, years and decades, these weapons of nuclear mass destruction killed hundreds of thousands and left an untold number of other victims to suffer the effects of radiation. Planning and preparing for nuclear war has also claimed the lives of countless tens of thousands around the world, as the U.S. mined uranium and tested nuclear weapons.
The U.S. is now preparing to upgrade its nuclear arsenal (new window) to the tune of over a trillion dollars. It is unconscionable that our taxes are used in this manner, when great human needs exist in our world. We are reminded of the words of President Eisenhower: "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron."
Studying, planning for, preparing for, and waging of war, are wrong and contrary to our deeply held beliefs. This is why we seek your support for the Peace Tax Fund Bill, which will be introduced in the new Congress after the November elections. As we move forward with our work together, we ask you to consider becoming a Peace Tax Advocate. Peace Tax Advocates will actively engage their members of Congress to become co-sponsors of the Peace Tax Fund Bill which will be introduced again by Representative John Lewis in early 2017. For more information about being a Peace Tax Advocate please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 888-PEACETAX or 202-483-3751.
As we mark the anniversary of the horrific tragedy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we leave you with the words of priest, poet and peace activist Daniel Berrigan, who passed away a few months ago:
Shadow on the Rock
by Daniel Berrigan, S.J.
At Hiroshima there's a museum
and outside that museum there's a rock,
and on that rock there's a shadow.
That shadow is all that remains
of the human being who stood there on August 6, 1945
when the nuclear age began.
In the most real sense of the word,
that is the choice before us.
We shall either end war and the nuclear arms race in this generation,
or we will become Shadows on the rock.
What's Happening This Summer (2016)
Surely, I must at all times attempt to obey the law of the state. But when the will of God and the will of the state conflict, I am compelled to follow the will of God. —Bayard Rustin
Friends, this summer is bringing us many opportunities to meet you. Representatives of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund will be present at several gatherings this summer, and we hope we'll see you at one.
Our Board chairman Rick Woodard recently attended the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference (new window) in Greensboro, North Carolina, and also the Faithful Witness in a Time of Endless War: Drone Warfare and God's Call to Peacemaking event (new window) in Lansdale, Pennsylvania, at the end of June. He enjoyed meeting current supporters, and we look forward to growing our relationship with new ones.
In August, Candi Horton, our West Coast contact, will attend the Veterans For Peace Convention (new window) in Berkeley, California. If you live nearby or will be attending the VFP Convention, Candi would love to talk to you about our upcoming work to pass the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act.
In August, Executive Director Jack McHale and our new staffer, Malachy Kilbride, will attend the Pax Christi USA National Gathering 2016 (new window) outside of Baltimore, Maryland. We are reminded of the recent statement Pope Francis made to a gathering of children at the Vatican:
This is serious. Some powerful people make their living with the production of arms and sell them to one country for them to use against another country. . . . It's the industry of death, the greed that harms us all, the desire to have more money. . . . The economic system orbits around money and not men, women. . . . So war is waged in order to defend money. This is why some people don't want peace: They make more money from war, although wars make money but lose lives, health, education. . . . —Pope Francis
Jack and Malachy will also be present to meet Friends attending Baltimore Yearly Meeting's Annual Session (new window) in Frederick, Maryland. Come see us at our table by the bookstore.
In the United Kingdom, the Chilcot Report—The Iraq Inquiry (new window)—was just released. Officially we now know that the invasion, war, and occupation of Iraq were based on falsehood and deception. Whether a similar report is ever published by the government of the United States remains to be seen. Sadly, our taxes have paid for this awful tragedy and continue to fund planning for yet more war. The creation of a Peace Tax Fund is now, as much as ever, vitally needed so that the taxes of people of faith and conscience can be be directed toward human needs and not war.
We look forward to meeting you at the various gatherings around the country this summer and working together on passing the Peace Tax Fund!
Welcome to Our New Executive Director
Jack McHale has accepted the Executive Director's position with the Peace Tax Foundation (PTF) and the National Campaign For the Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) as of January 4, 2016. Jack has been active in the peace movement for over 25 years. He has served as the Treasurer for Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement recently for 3 years as well as the former chairperson of Pax Christi Metro DC/Baltimore. He is active with the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Community in DC as well. He initiated a monthly witness at the CIA against the Armed Drone program that the CIA is directing throughout the globe. He also has focused on a grassroots campaign across the U.S. to have the Catholic Church reject their Just War teachings.
Jack sees tremendous potential in advancing the mission of the National Campaign For the Peace Tax Fund through the "Congressional District Contacts" program. The NCPTF will work strategically in working to get more cosponsors for the "bill."
Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill Introduced in 114th Congress as H.R. 2377
As mentioned below, Congressman John Lewis of Georgia introduced the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund bill in the 114th Congress on May 15, 2015. The Bill's number is H.R. 2377. Currently, there are no cosponsors. This bill, if passed, will extend to U.S. taxpayers the right of conscientious objection to paying for war and preparation for war. The legislation has been referred to the House Ways and Means Committee. The text of the bill can be read on the "The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill, H.R. 2377" page on this site or on Thomas (new window), the legislative information Web site of the Library of Congress.
All of us who support this legislation can fulfill an important responsibility by persuading our Representatives in the U.S. Congress to communicate to Rep. John Lewis their support and willingness to be cosponsors of the bill. Links to information on the bill's status in the House of Representatives are available on this bill's "Bill Summary & Status" page on Thomas (new window).
Please take a minute right now and send a letter or e-mail message to your U.S. Representative urging her/him to cosponsor this House bill. You may find this sample letter to a Representative helpful: Sample Letter to a Representative (PDF file, 15 KB, new window). You can also send a request to your Senators urging them to introduce similar legislation in the Senate: Sample Letter to a Senator (PDF file, 15 KB, new window). If you have the time to personalize your message, it is best to do so, as it is likely to receive greater attention. Also, each time you contact your members of Congress, be sure to ask them to let you know what they do in response to your request.
If you're not sure whether you remember who your U.S. Representative is or who your Senators are, look them up at CongressLookup.com (new window).
Congressman Lewis Honors International Conscientious Objector Day, Introduces Peace Tax Fund Legislation
On May 15, 2015, International Conscientious Objector Day, Rep. John Lewis will introduce the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act in the 114th Congress.
"This bill provides a way for Americans who oppose war to pay their taxes with a clean conscience. It protects both freedom of religion and freedom of speech," says the Congressman on his Web site (new window).
In a letter to his colleagues encouraging them to co-sponsor this legislation, Rep. Lewis noted that "the First Amendment provides that citizens shall be free to exercise their religious beliefs. In recognition of this principle, since 1940, federal law has permitted those who oppose war to declare themselves conscientious objectors and accept an alternative position to military service. Unfortunately, however, there has never existed a similar mechanism that would permit conscientious objectors to comply with both their nonviolent religious beliefs and their duty to pay taxes as an American citizen at the same time."
"The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Act addresses this serious problem by creating a way for conscientious objectors to fulfill their federal tax obligations with a clear conscience. As a result of this act, they will know that their tax dollars will not be used to pay for war."
Statements of Conscience
Read and create personal expressions of conscience about paying for war: