The Living Spirit works in the world to give life, joy, peace and prosperity through love, integrity and compassionate justice among people. We are united in this Power. We acknowledge that paying for war violates our religious conviction. We will seek ways to witness to this religious conviction in each of our communities.
New York Yearly Meeting, (NYYM) Religious Society of Friends, Minute April 2006

I am a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) and a citizen of the United States whose conscience cries out at the permanent war footing of this nation. No longer are Quakers automatically required to serve in the military, but our investments and tax dollars pay for war and preparation for war. To the extent I am able, I have divested myself of government bonds and other instruments that pay for war, exploitation and despoliation. However, I am compelled by the federal government to pay taxes used for purposes that violate my conscience.
I believe that, rightly used, our federal taxes promote the common good and fund those things that single individuals could not secure. However, our nation uses vast amounts of these precious resources for war, leaving peaceable people the choices of living below the taxable level, violating the law by refusing to pay some or all of their federal taxes, or paying for war while praying for peace. To date, courts and Congress have turned a deaf ear to cries of conscientious objection to military taxes.
For 30 years I have been under the weight of this dilemma. In 1982 when I completed graduate school in public policy and was about to return to work, I consulted an attorney on the possible ways of refusing to pay for war. At that time I decided that 1) I would end up paying more to the government in interest and penalties; 2) I was not sure I could maintain a loving attitude toward those who were going to be pursuing me for payment; 3) I felt that the energy that tax witness would take could be better spent in more positive ways; 4) my husband opposed tax witness as impracticable and foolish. So I paid my taxes with a heavy heart.
Over the years, I maintained an interest in legislative efforts to obtain governmental accommodation to conscientious objection to military taxes. I spent my career in building the capacity of my community to respond to vulnerable families and my volunteer work in advocating for justice at home and abroad. But I could not set aside my conviction that by paying taxes used for war and preparation for war, I was undermining the very commitments I was living out in my work and in the rest of my life.
A turning point for me came in 1999, when I was clerking the Coordinating Committee on Witness for the Yearly Meeting. Rosa Packard, a member of one of the meetings in New York Yearly Meeting, had been refusing for many years to pay federal taxes out of conscientious objection to war, had sued the federal government for accommodation of conscience, and was asking the Yearly Meeting to submit an amicus brief, which required approval of the entire body of the Yearly Meeting. It felt like a message from God to me and to the world that the issues of conscientious objection to paying for war are unavoidable. The Yearly Meeting approved going forward, and I clerked the group that prepared the amicus brief in the tax witness case of Packard vs. United States. In that brief we laid out the convictions of Friends that led Rosa Packard to refuse to pay her federal taxes, stressing that it is a solemn matter to say no to the government, but it is an even more solemn matter to say no to the promptings of the Spirit. Perhaps more important than the engagement with Quaker history and testimonies, I experienced the joy and confidence of Rosa Packard and others I have met since who have witnessed to the call of the Living Spirit by not paying part or all of their federal taxes.
Inexorably, I have found myself drawn into leadership on this witness. The April 2006 minute, reaffirming the Quaker Peace Testimony and its application to paying for war, quoted at the opening, arose out of western New York; I was the representative asked to present the minute for approval to the body of Yearly Meeting. Currently, I co-convene the Yearly Meeting’s Committee on Conscientious Objection to Paying for War, which arose out of the first case and continues to work on issues of conscience and war. I was one of the leaders in preparing for and conducting the conference that the committee sponsored June 2007 at Rochester Meeting on building the conscience movement. I have convened the Rochester Meeting’s Peace Tax Fund Work Group. As I live into the call of conscience, I feel anxiety waning and the sustaining power of the Spirit growing.
When I retired in mid-July 2006, I instructed that no federal tax be withheld from my pension, Social Security and investments. I paid my federal taxes for 2006 under protest and am praying about whether or not to pay the full amount of federal taxes in 2008.