Rep. John Lewis, the iconic civil rights leader (Editorial, Nov. 6), was well-known for his commitment to racial justice and nonviolence. Less known were his persistent efforts on behalf of the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund. He worked closely with Marian Franz, a Mennonite who directed the National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund for 24 years. A bill was framed that would allow conscientious objectors to war to designate their tax payments for nonmilitary spending. Lewis introduced this bill on frequent occasions, the last being on Aug. 6, 2019.
Upon Franz’s death on Nov. 17, 2006, Lewis released a tribute calling her “a tireless voice for religious freedom and the rights of people of conscience [whose] energy and persistence in advocating for the Religious Freedom Peace Tax Fund was a reflection of her deep commitment to our democracy and to the cause of peace.”
Neither Franz nor Lewis lived to see their goal accomplished, but they never gave up. Anabaptists and non-Anabaptists continue to advocate for this cause.