Workshop 10: "Churches and Religious Movements"

Led by Reverend/Pfarrerin Ilse Staude

Report by Hannelore Morgenstern-Przygoda


We invite members of Christian churches and other religious movements to exchange information about the latest developments in churches/religious movements and in the process of the Decade to Overcome Violence related to our concern. We also invite a member of CEC/Conference of European Churches with the intention to inform this organisation and to ask for putting WTR on its agenda.

10 Participants:

Robert Antoch / Germany: Society of Friends, Peace-group, working-group ‘Gütekraft’; David Bassett / Ann Arbor, USA: Society of Friends, 33 years Peace Tax Campaigns; Ricardo Esquivia Ballestas / Colombia: Mennonite Church, vice-president of the protestant churches; in negotiations between para-militaries and government he works as mediator; Nana-Fosu Randall / Ghana, London, USA: Methodist Church; 29 years financial officer/UN-peace-keeping-projects, Founder of The Voices of African MothersMichael Held / Germany: volunteer, Ev. Diocese Bad Hersfeld: work and coordination for practical steps on behalf justice, peace and integrity of the creation; Hannelore Morgenstern / Germany: lay staff in Industrial Mission Cologne, Ev. Kirche im Rheinland; Marya Nyland / Canada: social activist, Unitarian Church, (which is not member of the WCC); Liesel Rottmayr / Germany: Roman Catholic, Pax Chrsiti; Ilse Staude / Germany: chaplain for the vocational school/Ev. Kirche Hessen-Nassau; Vic Thiessen / Canada: Mennonite Centre London; Chair of Church and Peace; Interpreters: Konrad Borst, Burkhart Doempke, Brigitte Schneider


Last year Hannelore applied at the Council of European Churches/CEC and invited this year a representative of CEC to this workshop, but failed in both occasions. 


We started with an overview of the attitude of our churches towards war tax resistance/WTR.

  • David told us as a special example about Philadelphia Yearly Meeting/PYM – Society of Friends. On application of the staff member Priscilla Adams the PYM as her employer did not pay part of the taxes for her. The Internal Revenue claimed for this taxes 40.000 $ and a penalty of 50%. PYM sued against this claim. Recently the district court released PYM from the penalty. After that the managing directors decided to pay the tax debt; they did not want to let the bailiff seize it.
  • Ricardo offers workshops for non-violent acting in Latin America.
  • The UN and Kofi Annan encourage nations and NGO to participate in the Decade to Overcome Violence.
  • The main question in our stocktaking was: Is WTR an item on the agenda of the Decade, called out by the World Council of Churches? The only hopeful information came from Germany. The decade-representatives of the 24 protestant dioceses have dealt twice with WTR and have formed a working group. This should collect material for a campaign, which might include WTR. Presently they long to know about other churches that support WTR.
  • Nana told us about the school project which she and her husband have launched in Ghana, where meantime 700 pupils are educated in a non-violent way and which is now a model for other schools. Her way is: It is unimportant to what church people belong. I just go and talk to persons, parishes and enterprises.
  • Ricardo points out that churches/religious movements as organisations have to be taken into responsibility for non-violence.

List of next steps:

  • Court cases: documentation, precise study and communication about the consequences
  • We should inform about WTR our own minister/parish and church organisations/leaders on all levels and all activities of the Decade to Overcome Violence
  • Tell and publish the stories of victims and martyrs and positive examples (instead of heros)
  • Support of the project ‘Gütekraft’ or thruthforce(based on satyagraha): The project will extend and spread the awareness of truthforce (research, education; publishing)
  • Bring churches that deal already with WTR into contact and into international, inter-confessional and inter-faith action
  • Conscientious objectors need personal courage; they also need encouragement and protection by all of us not to be treated as enemies. We must inform others about the true intentions of WTR.

Request to everybody:

The German representatives of the Decade to Overcome Violence long for precise information about other churches which support WTR, preferably with the name and address of a contact-person. Please answer to: