A group of staff from Britain Yearly Meeting, the charity which manages the central policy, property, staff and work of Quakers in Britain, have had a request rejected by the Treasury. They wanted to exercise their right of conscientious objection to war by ensuring that none of their taxes are used for military purposes.
When Norman Gaudie refused to participate in World War I he acted from the deepest conviction that all life is sacred.He knew it was wrong to take a life and so he refused to fight. Faced with conscription, he was prepared to die for his belief.
March 2nd 2016 marked 100 years since the first inclusive right of conscientious objection became law in the United Kingdom. To commemorate the centenary, the NGO Conscience: Taxes for Peace not War hosted a discussion evening featuring MPs from three different parties and Sir Richard Jolly, a former United Nations Assistant Secretary General.
Tomorrow (2 March) marks the centenary of the passing of the Military Service Act which brought compulsory military service into British law and with it, for the first time, the right to conscientious objection.
Quaker work is often hidden from the public gaze. As the year draws to a close, Quakers in Britain have "lifted the curtain" for a look at some 2015 initiaives which have quietly made a difference to areas of conflict, or sowed seeds of change in local communities.
I recently preached at Kensington Unitarian Church, where I was pleased to receive a warm welcome and to engage in some good discussions. Here is the text of my sermon. I explored issues of faith, power and loyalty, looking particularly at Jesus' comments when asked if Jews should pay taxes to the Roman Emperor. I suggested this passage should be read not as a surrender to power but as a challenge to it.