Quakers protest conscription to military taxation

Quakers protest conscription to military taxation

Press release March 2016

On 2 March 1916, the Military Service Act  was passed, bringing compulsory military service into British law and with it, the right to conscientious objection for the first time.

Many Quakers registered as Conscientious Objectors in fidelity to our Peace Testimony, first declared in 1660, which contains these words: “All bloody principles and practices we do utterly deny, with all outward wars, and strife, and fightings with outward weapons, for any end, or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.”

This has formed the basis for our corporate witness to peace and the rejection of armed conflict for more than three centuries.

The conscience clause of 1916 was a milestone in the protection of freedom of conscience. The right to conscientious objection is now enshrined in international law.

However, as a Religious Society, we are concerned that we are still financially conscripted into military service through the taxation system. Modern wars are no longer fought with conscript armies, but with professional armies using high-tech weapons, paid for by taxation and therefore conscript us into supporting the use of violence with no right to object.

A Taxes for Peace Bill supporting this right of objection has been sponsored by the organisation Conscience and will be introduced in Parliament later this year by Quaker MP Ruth Cadbury. The Bill will enable conscientious objectors to military taxation to re-direct the military portion of their taxes to non-violent means of maintaining national security and to education in the resolution and avoidance of conflict. We believe this to be in the spirit of the alternative service undertaken by Conscientious Objectors during World War One.

Ipswich and Diss Quaker Area Meeting will be therefore  be reflecting on this proposal and considering how we may best give it our support.

ENDS

(For further information, contact Jill Segger on 07711 031837)