100 years on from The Conscription Act young men are no longer forced to join the armed forces. But all of us are made to support war through our taxes.
For countries like Britain, modern warfare does not need large numbers of conscripted soldiers, but does use highly expensive weaponry to engage in conflict around the world. Modern-day Conscientious Objectors (COs) believe that instead, we should be putting these resources into achieving security through peace & justice.
The organisation Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War is campaigning for the right to conscientiously object to our taxes being spent on war. Conscience are bringing a Taxes for Peace Bill to parliament, with Quaker MP Ruth Cadbury. This bill would not mean conscientious objectors get out of paying tax! It would mean that they could ask for the part of their tax that is currently spent on war be spent on peace-making activities instead.
Men who applied for conscientious objector status in WWI had to prove their sincerity of conscience through written statements and verbal arguments at tribunals. Although there is no longer conscription in this country, there is a continued need to make our conscience heard as the state takes our financial involvement in war and preparation for war for granted.
Pop into Peace Hub to ‘register’ as a Conscientious Objector.
Conscience have created a form – in the style of those the COs 100 years ago had to complete – for you to ‘register’ with. Simply fill one out, and Conscience will include your words in a volume of personal testimony in support of the Taxes For Peace Bill 2016.
A question that often comes up about the Taxes for Peace Bill:
“If people can choose how their tax is spent via the Taxes for Peace Bill, why can’t everyone just pick and choose where their tax goes?” This is a reasonable concern – we’re very happy for you to pop into Peace Hub for a discussion about these tricky issues.
But we do feel that conscientiously objecting to taxes being spent on war is valid. The right to conscientiously object to war has been established in law for 100 years – this bill is reflecting changes in the nature of war and our involvement in it.
Being fundamentally opposed to killing (and refusing all involvement in it) is different to having an opinion on how public money is spent in other ways. In other Peace Hub campaigns we are often calling for changes in how public money is spent (e.g. we might want to move subsidies for fossil fuels to renewables instead) but we don’t call for this type of exemption, because we accept that conscientious objection to war & killing is a special case.