Paul’s Perambulations

July 6, 2008

July 4, 2008 — Peace is Patriotic

Filed under: Love,Politics — admin @ 5:48 pm

It’s 4th of July, and I have my peace flag flying as usual.  My most recent peace activities have focused on the Relgious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill and the 12th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Funds. Here also are some comments about my lovely and fascinating wife.

1. In late May I carried a Minute from Chester Quarterly Meeting to Interim Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting requesting that Philadelphia Yearly Meeting send a letter to all members of Congress asking for their support of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (currently H.R. 1921).  For those not familiar with Quaker lingo, the preceding sentence describes a process by which a large group of Quakers (more than 10,000 in PYM) reach unity on a decision (we don’t vote and don’t have representatives).  After some discussion at the Interim Meeting, PYM approved sending out such a letter in their name.  The Relgious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill would enable those conscientiously opposed to participation in war to pay their full taxes into a government fund that did not go to war-related purposes.  For many pacifists, paying for a gun for someone else is just as wrong as doing the killing yourself.  This puts such pacifists (myself included) in the quandry of either paying taxes for war or being civil disobedient by refusing to pay. The refused tax money is not retained but given away to charitable institutions. More information and links are available at my website   To read an informative draft of this letter, click Comment #1.

2. During May and June I have been working with regional Quakers (including PYM) to get their support for my attendance at the 12th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Funds, to be held in Manchester UK in early September.  I have attended these biennial conferences twice before and found them informative and practical.  Philadelphia Yearly Meeting agreed to Minute their support of my attendance at this conference and to pay my expenses.  For more information and to see my Minute, click on Comment #2.

3. This 4th of July weekend Fran and I went foraging in a nearby park along Darby Creek (there is also a prior post on this topic).  We had our milkweed peas last night (excellent) and spice bush tea and various other wild edibles.  We are getting more skilled at this (particularly Fran), and pictures are on line at sheldontimes. com.  Now when we go backpacking she is prepared to make fresh bread on the spot and cook it (something like pancakes) on a flat rock over a small flre, along with our foraged foods.  She never ceases to amaze me with her ideas and innovations.

4. About a month ago we attended a Memorial Service for the last relative of Fran’s mother’s generation.  The extended family was gathered, and I saw a chance (re my last comment in #3) to discover if Fran has always been as interesting and lively as she is now.  She always describes herself as being very shy and quiet most all of her life, and only starting to come out of her shell quite recently. This struck me as unlikedly, so I asked a number of her cousins about what she was like when younger.  They said “least shy of all…bubbly…striking… redhead…glamorous…just like she is now” and everything OPPOSITE of how she describes herself then.  I was not in the least surprised to hear this, but Fran was absolutely astonished.  Isn’t it interesting how others can know us and think about us in a way so different from how we know and think about ourselves?


  1. Dear Senator/Representative ____________________,

    We (Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends) ask your support for HR 1921, the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) has, from its early years in the 1600s, held strong convictions opposing violence and militarism. There have been members of our Religious Society who have acted on this belief through their conscientious refusal to participate in war making of any kind. From the time that the Quaker William Penn settled Pennsylvania there were Friends who have felt the need to withhold their tax money from the support of war. They have instead redirected that money to the promotion of human welfare. For more than three decades Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (of Quakers) has sought a legal means of directing tax money of conscientious objectors away from war.

    We have approved a Minute in support of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (H.R. 1921 in the current Congressional term). This Bill would enable conscientious objectors to war to have their federal income taxes directed to a special fund that would be used for non-military purposes only. While we understand that the current congressional schedule is rapidly coming to a close, we will continue to work on this in the new Congress as well.

    We believe that the First Amendment protects this exercise of religious freedom. The National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund website states: Just as our nation has developed a means by which citizens, on the basis of religious conscience, may choose to do non-military service in lieu of military service when a military draft is in effect, we advocate for statutes that establish a means by which the income tax payments of designated conscientious objectors can be directed to non-military purposes.

    We are committed to work for a legal way for our tax money to serve our country by alternative service. For those who oppose war on religious grounds, paying for war is no less objectionable than participating in war. More information about this Bill is available from the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund ( We ask that you honor the Constitutional guarantee of religious freedom by supporting this legislation. For those who have worked in the past for this Bill, we thank you and request your continued actions to help this Bill become law.

    Sincerely, xxxxxxxxxxxxx

    “We agree with the Declaration of the Elders of Balby (a group of church fathers writing in 1660) that we will not fight with outward weapons. As such, we cannot in good conscience pay for the military spending we oppose. The Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund Bill (currently HR 1921) will allow us to pay 100% of our taxes into a fund created by the US Treasury that could be spent on anything NOT military. We ask that our elected officials co-sponsor this legislation and that this Minute be published broadly.” (Approved by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends, May 22, 2008)

    Comment by admin — July 6, 2008 @ 5:58 pm

  2. June 8, 2008

    Dear Friends:

    This letter is to introduce our member Paul Sheldon, who is traveling to attend the 12th International Conference on War Tax Resistance and Peace Tax Campaigns to be held in Manchester, England, September 5-7, 2008. The conference will bring people of conscience from around the globe to meet on issues of peace tax fund legislation and conscientious objection to war taxes.

    Paul has been a war tax resister since 1988. His conviction that pacifism requires some response to the issue of paying for weapons of war was largely inspired by the witness of war tax resisters in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Paul is a past Clerk of the War Tax Concerns Support Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and past Clerk of Lansdowne Monthly Meeting.

    We share Paul’s belief that his attendance at this conference serves two purposes. First, actions taken there may contribute to the redirection of our taxes to peaceful purposes. And second, his experience connects us with other pacifists worldwide and serves to inform and encourage Friends here. Paul plans to share his experience of the conference with his Monthly and Quarterly meetings and with Philadelphia Yearly meeting.

    We recommend Paul to your care and look forward to hearing a report of his time with you. Our prayers go with him for a world where “ The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid: and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.”

    Yours in peace,

    Max Muenke,
    Clerk, Lansdowne Monthly Meeting

    Comment by admin — July 6, 2008 @ 6:08 pm

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