April 2007 Mennonite Church Canada letter to the Prime Minister: Conscientious Objection to Payment of War Taxes
In April 2007, Mennonite Church Canada sent a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper asking government to allow for the “… Conscientious Objection to the payment of those taxes designated for military purposes.”
The four-page letter, signed by Mennonite Church Canada leaders Henry Krause, Moderator, Robert J. Suderman, General Secretary, and Janet Plenert, Executive Secretary, Christian Witness, states support for Private Member’s Bill which was expected to be introduced in the House “at the earliest opportunity” by Bill Siksay, Member of Parliament for Burnaby – Douglas in British Columbia.
The letter is a response to a delegate resolution at the Mennonite Church Canada 2006 assembly in Edmonton, which asked leadership to “…make representation … to the Government of Canada, urging the government to enact legislation which would allow conscientious objectors to direct the military portion of their taxes to activities of development and peace.”
Using the logic of historic government allowance for conscience objection to military service as a basis, the letter argues “The end-use and impact of our money are as important as are the end-use and impact of our actions.”
The letter includes supporting statements from former Prime Ministers Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau and Brian Mulroney, statistics from United Nations – and makes a biblical case drawing from both Old and New Testament texts such as Psalm 34:14, Romans 14:19, I Peter 3:11,and Matthew 5:44.
The letter also draws on historical evidence of Mennonites as a people with a long tradition of pursuing peace. “Mennonite Church Canada is a Christian denomination that has had the ‘search for and pursuit of peace’ in our heart and soul since our inception in Canada in the early 1800s, and before that in the birth of the Anabaptist movement in Europe in the 16th century, and before that in the words and life of Jesus of Nazareth, the foundation of our church.”
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