Antigonish, N.S.

About a dozen years ago, Fr. Bernard MacDonald became convinced it was immoral to pay the portion of income tax that is used for anti-life purposes. A professor at St. Francis University here, he developed a plan to make a meaningful protest.

When filing his income tax returns in 1979, he deliberately placed himself in a deficit position in order to draw the attention of the tax department. That is, although the forms indicated that he owed the government about $1,000 in taxes, he did not include payment.

When the revenue department tried to collect, Fr. MacDonald went public, outlining for the media and officials of the tax department what he saw as immoral in the situation.

“I asked them to calculate the portion of my tax payment that would go to support anti-life initiatives, and said, I would withhold only that amount. I told them I would file a complete return when they provided that information.”

He then placed the full amount in a trust fund, pending receipt of the requested information.

“I was aware that the tax department would simply garnishee my wages, by notifying the university to remit the full amount from my salary,” he recalls.

Since that would make his protest meaningless, he worked out an arrangement with university officials whereby he taught without a salary. This arrangement continued in effect for the next six years.

In addition, he turned his car over to someone else. Since it was not longer in his name, it could not be seized and sold for payment of taxes.

This tactic stymied both the provincial and federal tax departments. Neither level was able to collect its share of Fr. MacDonald’s taxes.

For seven years they contacted him every few weeks. Always Fr. MacDonald assured them that when they gave him sufficient information to determine the amount he intended to withhold, he would complete his remittance.

In all that time, they gave him only a partial answer to his question: the amount of money given to Status of Women and similar groups, amounts that are a matter of public record. It would appear that governments are unaware or unwilling to admit that any public money goes to anti-life, anti-family activities.

In 1986 Father MacDonald planned to take a sabbatical from teaching to live for a year as a hermit.

“Clearly, the ongoing hassle with government would work against living contemplative life. It was time to settle things with the tax department.

That was easily done, since the total amount that he was in arrears was in fact covered by receipts for his donations to charity. (Fr. MacDonald has always given very generously to various charities.) All he had to do was “discover” and file the receipts. That entitled him legally to the amount he was said to be owing.

After years of trying to collect, both the federal and the provincial governments were somewhat unhappy about this development. There were mutterings that included legal terms such as “contempt” but nothing further was done.

In retrospect, Fr. MacDonald feels the effort was worthwhile, though less successful than he had hoped.

“I expected that when I had demonstrated how it could be done, a popular revolt would ensure. “That didn’t happen.” (In the past decade, many a pro-life activist has made a similar discovery). But, he adds, I made my point.

Fr. Bernard MacDonald is convinced that we don’t take the spiritual aspect of the anti-life movement seriously enough. He says that today the forces of evil are advancing rapidly, while we are becoming ever blind to the evil in our midst, to the point where we don’t even realize that we are often accomplices in the evil around us.

“We are experiencing an almost total diabolical effort. It’s not yet total. If it were, we wouldn’t survive.”

“But we have the weapons to overcome these diabolical forces. Prayer and fasting will cast out these kinds of devils, only prayer and fasting, if we have any hope of defeating the anti-life forces, we must take the power of evil more seriously, and make use of these spiritual weapons.”