Chapter 23 » 23.92

Friends and state authority


On the passing of the Military Service Act 1916, London Yearly Meeting minuted:

We take this, the earliest opportunity, of reaffirming our entire opposition to compulsory military service and our desire for the repeal of the act. War, in our view, involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood; it is an evil for the destruction of which the world is longing; but freedom from the scourge of war will only be brought about through the faithfulness of individuals to their inmost convictions, under the guidance of the spirit of Christ.

Our position is based upon our interpretation of the teaching of Jesus Christ. We regard the central conception of the act as imperilling the liberty of the individual conscience – which is the main hope of human progress – and as entrenching more deeply that militarism from which we all desire the world to be freed… Our lives should prove that compulsion is both unnecessary and impolitic. They should manifest a sense of duty not less strong than that which has driven many whom we respect (and some even of our own members) into the fighting forces. We can identify ourselves to the full with the griefs of our nation in which few hearts are not torn by suffering or harrowed by suspense. We pray that in steadfast conformity to the path of duty we may be set free to serve – to give to the community the fullest service of which we are capable – each one in the way of God’s appointing.

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