Photo caption: Boston Fellows, Naren and Karla, at a pro-Palestine march in February 2024.

QVS Recruiting and Marketing Coordinator Director Ruth Cutcher shares with us about a workshop she hosted.

I am a gardener because I love planting seeds.  For many years, I had a tradition of planting seeds on Valentine’s day.  Where I live it is generally cold, gray, and dismal in mid-February and dreaming of summer gardening and bright sunny days injects this holiday with hope.

This year on Valentine’s Day, I led a discussion on the topic of War Tax Resistance with participants of the Earlham College Quaker Fellows program.  Although I felt nervous and unqualified to talk about war tax resistance because I am not an accountant or attorney, I was excited to connect with students and hear their perspectives on this form of civil disobedience and everyday activism.  I wasn’t sure if this talk would be like planting seeds or more like visiting a well-established garden.

War tax resistance used to be a defining feature of the Religious Society of Friends.  Quakers were persecuted and jailed for refusing to pay war taxes.  Until the civil war era, Quaker meetings would review the financial records of every meeting member to ensure that their spending did not include activities that supported war or the causes of war.

War tax resistance used to be a defining feature of the Religious Society of Friends.

However, Friends began to perceive war tax resistance arising out of duty or obligation and not from an authentic leading.  Today we find many monthly meetings who are very proud of the one war tax resister from their meeting and, although the meeting is proud of their activism, other members do not typically join them in these acts of civil disobedience.

I was delighted to discover that there were students in the room with parents who were war tax resisters.  The other conveners in the room had also organized their lives (as I have organized my life) to live simply and make a modest amount of money through our employment to minimize our tax burden.  Because several people in the room had personal experience with war tax resistance, we were able to have a lively discussion.

One of the students asked a question that still haunts me.  This student was concerned that if a lot of people resisted paying war taxes, there could be negative outcomes to our economy that would be difficult to anticipate or predict.  I am haunted by this question for two reasons. One, the question seems to point to the fears of young people and their desire for some sort of reassurance or guidance that I feel unprepared to give.  Two, it points to the fragility of our current system and the fears that young adults have about what might be next.

As I said before, planting seeds is a hopeful act.  This conversation with the Earlham College Quaker Fellows gave me a lot of hope.  The students planted seeds of hope in my heart that our next generation is thoughtful, smart, and open to new ways of thinking and living.  I hope that I also planted seeds for them – seeds of ideas around living radical lives based on values and away from lives motivated by consumerism and exploitation; war and the causes of war.

To prepare for the presentation, I participated in a webinar organized by the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, where I gleaned invaluable insights:

  • A significant number of Quakers actively engage with the National War Tax Resistance Coordinating Committee, underscoring their commitment to peace and conscientious objection.

  • Despite the legality of war tax resistance, penalties such as imprisonment or asset seizure are uncommon, providing reassurance to potential resisters.

  • Since October 7th, there has been a notable uptick in interest and participation in war tax resistance, indicative of a growing movement.

  • One strategic objective is to convey a potent message by disrupting the system through symbolic actions, such as withholding a single penny, accompanying it with a letter, or generating additional administrative burden for authorities.

  • A coalition of organizations is working together to organize Tax Blackout 2024 by asking people to resist paying war taxes – even in a symbolic way by withholding a penny or a dollar.

  • For more information, visit:, or


More about Ruth (she/her)

Ruth (she/her) joined Quaker Voluntary Service in October of 2022.  Ruth is a convinced Friend and a member of Durango Friends Meeting in Durango, CO. She holds a Master of Divinity from Earlham School of Religion. When she is not at work, Ruth can be found in her garden, at the local gym picking up heavy things or cooking yummy food to share with her friends.

Connect with her via [email protected].

What sorts of programming and tools are Fellows offered during their year?

Every other week throughout the nine and a half month fellowship, QVS Fellows attend QVS Days instead of working at their site placements. 

QVS Days offer Fellows a chance to slow down and be in community. For the first part of the year, QVS staff take the lead in planning and facilitating QVS Days. They support Fellows in exploring their individual and communal journeys, as well as discussing work, community living, Quakerism, spiritual practices, and social justice issues. As the year progresses, Fellows take a more active role in planning and facilitating QVS Days.

Over the course of the year, Fellows learn tools like: clerking and Quaker decision-making processes, clearness committees, conflict transformation, signs of defensiveness, and tons more. Additionally, at the start of the year, Fellows attend a week-long orientation with all QVS Fellows from across the country, as well as a mid-year and a closing retreat with their city cohort.

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