Statements of Conscience

hoover L sharon

DE, United States

2011-02-03

As a teenager, I joined the Navy in order to get some education and a job at the same time. I quickly learned that the armed forces would not challenge me in such a way that I would learn ways to make the United States healthier and stronger, only ways to assist it in using force against an "enemy." There were good things involved; that's partly why I would support a young person devoting two years to serve the United States in some way between high school and college.

As I looked--for years--for ways to strengthen the United States peaceably for peaceable purposes. Although I had been active in a Protestant Church since birth, I did not find any--at least at that time--where I could stand clearly for justice and peace. I finally found the Religious Society of Friends. I attended for ten years before I joined because I was unsure what I would do if the United States was to go to war here or abroad. I decided that I could not kill; I would not kill. However, I would help anyone who was injured or in need. That's the heroism I would be called to.

I have belonged to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) for about 30 years now. I have learned a great deal about it and about pacifism. I have also learned a great deal about taxation and conscience. Although I--and my family--had debated what to do about taxes for the military since the 1970s, and my husband and I have done several things--withhold small amounts, write letters to the IRS, to our senators and representatives, to the local newspaper, we had not lit on any one thing we thought best until we worked with a faithfulness group, then with our local Meeting for Worship, then with our Regional Meeting, and finally with our Yearly Meeting that we came out with a strong, firm stand.

On April 1, 2006. we adopted the following as a statement for the entire New York Yearly Meeting (New York and parts of Connecticut and New Jersey):"The Living Spirit works to give 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 witness to this religious conviction in each of our communities."

Our conviction is based on the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth and joins with all the peace religions that Karen Armstrong presents in her book The Great Transformation.

I continue to pay my taxes legally; however, I also "witness to my religious conviction that paying for was is wrong. War is not the answer."

Sharon Lee Hoover