Mennonite Payment of Military Taxes: An ACRS Forum

Where Seminary, Martin Chapel

Duration 1 hour

What: An ACRS Forum on the Payment of Military Taxes
Where: Martin Chapel (EMU Seminary)
When: Thursday, Feb. 28, 3:50 – 5:15 (Please come 15 minutes early for a “meet and greet” time with light refreshments.)

Participating Panel Members: Pastors Jennifer Davis Sensenig, Craig Maven, and Duane Yoder

The Issue in Historical Context:
Mennonites, along with the Quakers/Friends and Church of the Brethren, have historically taken the position of being opposed to war and refusing to participate in the military. Article 22 of the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective states that “As disciples of Christ, we do not prepare for war, or participate in war or military service.” As WW II was looming, significant efforts were made by representatives of the Historic Peace Churches to have the U.S. government allow conscientious objectors not to participate in war activities. This special status was granted in the Conscription Act of 1940.

Over time, the nature and methods of war have shifted from being labor intensive and needing lots of warm young bodies to being capital intensive and thus needing lots of money and fewer soldiers. During this same time Mennonites in America have become increasingly affluent contributing ever more dollars to the Pentagon’s hungry coffers. For Fiscal Year 2013 estimates of the share of the Federal Income Tax allocated to military spending range from 44.4 percent (Friends Committee on National Legislation: to 47 percent (Mennonite Central Committee:

In spite of our unwillingness to personally join the military, Mennonites continue to pay their taxes, including that portion that goes to war and military spending (“war taxes”), and have been largely quiet on this issue. This creates a severe dilemma for some, less so for others.

Composition of “Forum on Payment of Military Taxes”:
The lead pastors of Community Mennonite Church, Jennifer Davis Sensenig; of Harrisonburg Mennonite Church, Craig Maven; and of Lindale Mennonite Church, Duane Yoder have agreed to share on a panel on which each member will take10 minutes to respond to the two questions shown below. Following the presentations by the panel members there will be opportunity for panel members to ask questions of each other, after which the floor will be open for Q & A and dialogue from the entire audience (i.e., all forum participants).

Questions (Each speaker is given 10 min. for a response.)

1. How is it that we believe in not physically participating in war (i.e., not enlisting in the military) but cooperate in paying our ‘war taxes’?

2. Do you personally withhold any of your ‘war taxes’? Please include a word on why, or why not.

Intended Audience General Public