AKRON, Pa. – Each year, thousands of people in the United States decide to witness for peace by withholding the portion of their taxes that would support war efforts and using it to support peace.
For those who make the choice to withhold, Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) U.S. offers the “Turning toward peace” initiative – an invitation to sow the seeds of peace by redirecting war tax dollars to help children in Afghanistan through MCC’s Global Family education sponsorship program.
In Afghanistan, Global Family works with MCC partner Help the Afghan Children, an organization that addresses education and peacemaking concerns.
Since 1996, MCC and its Global Family program have provided more than $7 million in humanitarian and educational assistance to the people of Afghanistan.
Global Family sponsorships help maintain peace rooms – welcoming, stimulating and safe places for students to work on meaningful projects related to peace. Students acquire skills to help heal the trauma experienced though the violence around them. Children also receive school kits, computers and other educational supplies.
Titus Peachey, director of peace education for MCC U.S., said the struggle with conscience regarding taxes that support war has a long history. “European Hutterites in the 1500s, Prussian Mennonites in the late 1700s, and contemporary peacemakers from Canada and the U.S. to Ethiopia and Japan are among those who have wrestled with this question,” said Peachey.
For people of faith, theological commitments play a key role. According to Peachey, most who have chosen to withhold believe, “If we cannot conscientiously participate in war with our bodies, we cannot pay for it, either. We need to give our money to causes which build up rather than destroy the presence of God in each person.”
Most inform their governments of their actions.
“Given the presence of Western military action in Afghanistan today, the opportunity to contribute to peacemaking there is timely,” said Peachey. “Equally important is the way in which withholding war taxes challenges our own systemic militarism.”
Find more information at mcc.org/wartaxes . Go to donate.mcc.org/global-family to learn more about MCC’s Global Family program.