A British Quaker has lost his bid to withhold that part of his income used to wage war. Colchester County Court ruled that Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) had a right to demand the money from Roy Prockter, a member of Clacton-on-Sea Meeting, who has withheld tax for the last three years. His argument is interesting and very logical. He points out that, in the eyes of the law, if he paid someone to commit murder he would be guilty of murder; if he paid someone to carry out an act of terrorism he would be a terrorist; it follows therefore that if he pays for military activity he is a combatant. But he does not wish to be a combatant and claims his right to conscientious objection. The judge did not agree and found against him, refusing him the right to appeal. He has now applied to a circuit judge to overrule the refusal of leave to appeal. If this fails he is prepared to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Many citizens, especially Christians, feel strongly that war is not the answer to the problems we face and that the money spent on the military and of weapons would be better spent ending world poverty. But how many of us have the courage of Roy Prockter who may now face prison as the consequence of his brave stand.