Pioneering US peace tax fund director is remembered

By staff writers
13 Dec 2006

Marian Hilda Claassen Franz, the first full-time director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund (NCPTF) in the United States, died last month, aged 76, after a two-year struggle with cancer – reports J. Daryl Byler of Mennonite Central Committee, the North American peace church development and relief organisation.

Tributes to her work, dedication and faith have been coming in from people across the world who knew her, and a memorial service is planned for 2007, Ekklesia has learned.

Ms Franz became director of the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund in 1982. She called upon members of Congress to create legislation to allow those conscientiously opposed to war to pay all of their tax obligations without having their money used to fund military force.

She was also a founder of Conscience and Peace Tax International, which works through international movements and institutions to obtain recognition of the moral and religious objection to paying for armaments and war.

The ‘peace tax’ initiative has been developed in a number of countries throughout the world, including Britain.

Franz was also a founder of the Faith and Politics Institute, a non-partisan, interfaith organization founded in 1991 to help public officials stay in touch with their faith as they shape public policy.

Marian Hilda Claassen Franz was born on 12 October 1930, in Newton, Kansas., USA. In 1954, she graduated from Bethel College, a Mennonite institution. She married Delton Franz in 1954 and after brief pastorates in Kansas moved to the south side of Chicago to attend Mennonite Biblical Seminary, where she earned a master’s degree in religious education.

In Chicago, the Franzes began an inter-racial Mennonite congregation. They were active in the Civil Rights Movement and coordinated rallies and speeches with Martin Luther King Junior.

In 1968, the Franzes opened the Washington Office of Mennonite Central Committee. In 1971, she helped found Dunamis, a Christian organization that spoke to policymakers about issues facing the nation from a peace and justice perspective. She became its first director.

Marian Hilda Claassen Franz was a member of the Hyattsville Mennonite Church, MD, where her memorial service will be held on 17 February 2007, it has been announced.

Hyattsville Mennonite Church, an urban Christian congregation, in the greater Washington DC area, has been the centre of controversy recently for its inclusive stance towards lesbian and gay people.

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