Eastern Mennonite University

This article is from the EMU News Archive. The approximate date of publication was in October 2003. Current EMU news is available at www.emu.edu/news


EMU Student Wins Oratorical Contest

Zachary T. Kurtz, a senior mathematics major at Eastern Mennonite University, has won first prize in the 2003 C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest.

Kurtz' speech, "A Taxing Dilemma," focuses on ethical considerations for Christians in the peace church tradition who pay income taxes when upwards to 47 percent of the federal budget in 2004 will go to support military expenditures and paying for wars past and present.

"I believe we should exercise a desperate inventiveness to prevent our earnings from funding the defense budget, especially in this time of war," Kurtz declared in his speech. "How can we right the hypocrisy of preaching peace while paying for war? The war tax dilemma we face demands that we pray to God for inspiration. Say, 'Jesus, is there another way?'

"War tax resistance is difficult and plain scary," Kurtz stated. "But for us to say, 'Oh, forget it,' is also dangerous."

Kurtz received a first place prize of $300.

Kurtz, from Keyser, W.Va., is a member of the Pinto (Md.) Mennonite Church and the son of Paul and Shirley Kurtz.

The annual C. Henry Smith Peace Oratorical Contest gives students an opportunity to compose and deliver a speech that applies Christian principles of peacemaking to contemporary social issues. The first, second and third place winners receive a cash prize. The first place winner then competes in an intercollegiate competition with the winners from other Mennonite-related colleges and universities.

The competition is administered by the Mennonite Central Committee and was established in honor of C. Henry Smith, a member of the Bluffton (Ohio) College faculty, 1914-46. Smith is well-known for his numerous books on Mennonite history and his particular attention to the peace commitments of the Mennonite tradition.

Posted: October 22, 2003