The pacifism which was rampant following World War II is not dead, although it is not so openly or vigorously espoused as it was during those days when in colleges, church papers, and retreats young people were requested to sign papers expressing their unwillingness to engage in war for any reason whatsoever.

The events leading up to our participation in the last shooting wars caused many ardent pacifists to reverse their thinking, and to admit openly that they had done so.

But now, with the growing emphasis on humanitarianism, often substituted for or confused with Christianity, there is quiet but growing renewal of propaganda for pacifism, a movement which only too often distorts history and brings forth arguments as fallacious as those of the 1930s.

Present-day pacifism does not stem from any one source, but the ultimate effect is the same. The theologies of many pacifists are as far apart as belief and disbelief can be, but the aims are for all practical purposes identical.

Techniques include using the opportunity afforded by young people’s gatherings to present the claims of the pacifistic approach, only too often in a way to take full advantage of the ignorance, idealism, and unpreparedness of those indoctrinated.

The writer has within a space of ten days come into direct contact with two types of extreme pacifism, the one based on an essentially non-Christian philosophy, humanitarian at best, and the other centered in interpretations of Scripture where the matter of the Christian conscience predominates.

There are wide differences of reasoning between the pacifism of the theological liberal and that of the evangelical Christian, but the effects on the individual are alarmingly similar.

For four hundred years the Mennonites, first in Europe and now in America, have consistently been pacifists, or conscientious objectors. The Friends have the same history, although the theological orientation of the two groups is dissimilar.

But not all of the conscientious objectors come from these groups. Some are found among those who are in chronic revolt against society as a whole; but there now seem to be a growing number whose basic philosophy of life centers in considerations having to do with man’s immediate welfare.

The thesis that “all wars are wrong” is exploited by all pacifists alike. Some amazing philosophical structures based on a dubious hypothesis have emerged.

Today, faced with the possibility of thermonuclear warfare, the cry has been raised, “Better Red than dead.” The “ban-the-bomb movement” in England is not a minor manifestation. One has but to see in person or on television the mob actions of this group to realize that here is no minor disturbance. Many people, young and old, often led by clergymen, engage in blocking traffic and in wild demonstrating which ends in their arrest and reprimand.

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The proximity of England to Russia has something to do with this, but the matter goes far deeper. There is often a disillusionment with government leadership; but most important of all, many of these people have lost or have never had a Christian philosophy of life itself.

We recently heard some genuinely Christian men affirm that they would rather subject their wives and children to the uncertainties of physical attacks on their persons or to the slavery of Communism than engage in either physical resistance to an assailant or the horrors of a possible thermonuclear war.

In all of these cases there was often omitted the possibility of a third option. The reduction of a situation to two alternatives can lead to extreme statements. Nevertheless, the philosophy here stated is a dismal one—life above all else.

Had our ancestors not valued liberty and honor more than life itself we would not be here today, enjoying the blessings which are ours.

Men and nations have always found strength and protection in their willingness to defend the right at any cost. Once there is expressed, or implied, an unwillingness to stand for the things men have in the past held as most dear, a potential menace becomes an overwhelming probability.

Never has the world been confronted with a power and ruthlessness such as is exhibited by world Communism today. Let down the guard, remove the deterrents, adopt a policy of nonresistance, and the vestiges of freedom will disappear from all the earth.

Basic to the pacifist philosophy is a substitution of personal opinion for corporate responsibility as a citizen. Some interpret Scripture in such a way as to justify dissociating themselves from obligation to the nation. Others arrive at the same conclusion by a frank rejection of the Scriptures. One denies that there are relevant principles in the Bible, the other the authority of the Scriptures; but to a ruthless enemy, this offers the invitation of unpreparedness regardless of theological motivation or lack of it.

The writer believes a Christian’s attitude to war must be determined not by consequences but by principles; not by one’s personal revulsion to physical combat but by duty and responsibility; not by utopian idealism but by the realities of the world in which we live.

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Admit the premise that “there are no just wars” and you are forced to deny the right of our police to deter criminals. Admit that there is no compelling difference between a war of aggression and conquest and one of defense or liberation and the way is opened for violence at the will of lawless men and nations. Argue our Lord’s injunction in the Sermon on the Mount to “turn the other cheek” without his own interpretation in John 18:23—“If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?”—and you have confused the issue.

The Church as well as the state recognizes the rights of conscientious objectors. They have never been a real menace to national security because of their relatively small number as well as the signal service many have rendered in noncombatant capacities.

But the political pacifist, who bases his pacifism on other than religious grounds, can, more easily than even he realizes, slip into the area of disloyalty to his country. Most dangerous of all is the political pacifist who hides his refusal to take up arms for his country behind a facade of religious conviction.

At the moment we do not believe pacifism is a national menace of large proportions. But, from isolated instances which have come to our attention, we believe there is a concerted effort to indoctrinate many of our young people with a dangerous philosophy under the guise of “being Christian,” “social responsibility,” “brotherhood,” or other beguiling terms.

Parents will be wise to find out just what their boys and girls are being taught in youth groups within their churches. Patriotism is not Christianity; neither is disloyalty, no matter in how attractive a guise it may appear.

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