Objection to Military Taxation
think about the life
and work of Marian Franz and read her essays published here, two movies
come to mind: Jessamyn West’s
Friendly Persuasion, in which the Hoosier
Quaker who declines to go to war is told by his combatant, non-Quaker
friend, "It’s good to see someone holding out for a better way of
settling things," and Han Suyin’s Love
is a Many-Splendored Thing, in
which the heroine says, "there is nothing stronger in the world than
Another phrase that Marian considered important was "Blessed are the
peacemakers." Therefore, many times blessed was our many-splendored
friend and blazing talent Marian Franz. In her pleasant and lovely way,
she uttered gentle and powerful words for a better way of handling
federal income tax obligations of conscientious objectors whose
consciences will not allow them to help finance military activities.
One way is to send them to prison. The better way? The same way the
government handles such citizens in the case of military service, where
conscientious objectors are enabled to perform non-combatant or
alternative civilian service.
Conscientious objector status is as old as our republic. The first
president to support governmental accommodation of conscientious
objection was—the first president. At the start of the Revolutionary
War, George Washington issued a call for "all young men of suitable age
to be drafted, except those with conscientious scruples against war."
The better way than prison, in the case of federal taxes, is to allow
conscientious objectors to pay their full amount of taxes for any
government purpose but military. The effect of the Peace Tax Fund Bill,
when enacted by Congress, will be to provide for "alternative service
for tax dollars." There are plenty of government expenditures besides
military, and the Peace Tax Fund would not reduce U.S. Government
spending on the military by one cent. Considering the amount of junk
the Pentagon buys at jewelry prices, such spending should be reduced,
but the Peace Tax Fund would have nothing to do with that reform.
The beginning of my involvement with the Religious Freedom Peace Tax
Fund Bill started with a phone call to our Tenth District Indiana
Congressional Office in Washington. "My name is Marian Franz. May I
speak to your administrative assistant?" My coworker David Wildes took
the call, an appointment followed, and thus began a beautiful
friendship between Marian and David. Once Marian explained her Peace
Tax Fund mission, David suggested a meeting with the congressman, who
happened to be myself. There would be very many more such encounters.
Marian knew that during her long and tiring day she was more than
welcome to relax in our office, to make herself at home. And whenever
she did, a special sparkle arrived with her.
She was modest, quiet, brilliant, and beautiful to the heart, to the
soul and to the eye. Marian was eloquent, polite, typically
soft-spoken—and persuasive. It was a privilege to work with her on the
legislation of which I became a sponsor, along with the magnificent
Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon. We were granted a hearing before a
House Ways and Means Subcommittee. The case for the Peace Tax Fund Bill
was made beyond any logical debate to the contrary, but there was an
obstacle. Many politicians perceive a peculiarity among the American
public that sees violence as an index to patriotism. And in many cases
that index overrides reason. It is the task of "blessed peacemakers" to
dispel such superficial logic.
It has been said that politics is the art of the possible. It has also
been said that statesmanship is the art of making things
was Marian, a statesperson. On his deathbed, FDR’s Cabinet Secretary
Henry L. Stimson wrote, "The person who works for [her or] his goals,
believing in their eventual attainment, while that person may suffer
setback and even disaster, [she or] he will never know defeat. The only
deadly sin I know is cynicism." Marian had faith in our cause as long
as she lived. She never gave up.
Marian stated the verity plainly: "The Peace Tax Fund is a win-win
proposal." The government gets its complete taxes from the
conscientious objectors, and the latter get to obey their consciences.
Moreover, the government does not have to spend enormous sums
prosecuting, feeding and sheltering such citizens in prison. There is
yet another gain for the government: the receipt of taxes which at
present are legally avoided. If a conscientious objector has a
profession which, if practiced, could earn high income, she or he could
do bare subsistence work and be below the threshold of federal income
tax. If such a person could practice her or his profession with a clear
conscience, as a consequence the government would get more tax income.
This establishment, in law, of the principle of conscientious objection
to military taxation was the sublime mission of our beloved Marian
Franz; a holy cause that, in the words of Lincoln, she has "thus far so
nobly advanced." We shall miss her bright eyes and sweet smile.
Betweeen 1964 and
1997, Andy Jacobs served fifteen terms in the U.S.
Congress representing Indiana’s Tenth District (Indianapolis). From
1991 until 1996 he was the lead sponsor of the U.S. Peace Tax Fund Bill.