Concerning Conscientious Objectors

A look at the treatment of conscientious objectors.

By C. B. HAYNES, Secretary of the National Service Commission

Not always are conscientious objectors accorded such fair and generous treat­ment as that recently given to Lew Ayres, in an editorial in the New York Times. Lew Ayres is a motion-picture actor who took the leading part in the dramatization of the book, "All Quiet on the Western Front," a preach­ment against war. The part he played in this picture developed such a hatred for war in the actor's heart that when he was drafted, he took the position of an absolute conscientious ob­jector, was classed as a IV-E man, and sent to a civilian public service camp.

Later Lew Ayres changed his position, adopting that of noncombatancy, and expressed his willingness to take up noncombatant service in the military forces. It was while he was on his way to camp that the editorial which fol­lows appeared in the New York Times. The comment of the editor of the New York Times represents a refreshing change from the con­demnation which conscientious objectors have received from certain other sources.

"If all Americans believed, as Lew Ayres does, the 'creed of nonresistance to evil,' the Nazis could do whatever they wished in this country. If all humanity believed the same creed, there would be no Nazis and no war. A minute handful of Americans do believe this creed. We have no reason to hope, from what we know of the human mind and human emotions, that the whole world will accept it in any time we can foresee. But let us not on that account hold back an honest tribute to a man who gives up a rich career and faces public ridicule and contempt because he will not hide the faith that is in him.

"Those who are tempted to throw stones at Lew Ayres would do better to ask themselves what their own faith is, and with how much forgetfulness Of self they are living up to it. The avowed faith of the vast majority of people in this country is that no sacrifice is too great if if it will help. . . . We think that the men whose lives and deaths have testified most eloquently to this faith are the ones who would come closest to understanding Lew Ayres, though disagreeing with him to the last syllable.

"When those of us who aren't even eligible for the armed services have paid every cent of our Federal taxes cheerfully, have accepted all the little war deprivations, not only in the letter, but in spirit, have put away our jealousies, our private ambitions, and our intolerances, have made in our own lives a shining example of what resistance to evil can be, then let us, if we will, pass a moral condemnation on non­resistance. And then, perhaps, we won't wish to. It is a doctrine for the otherworldly and for saints, and there will never be enough of those to interfere with our war efforts."—April 3, 1942.

Protestant Church Mergers Decried

I. Baptist concern over the ever-expanding Protestant church merger scheme is constantly reflected in her leading papers. The following paragraph from the Watchman-Examiner for March 12, is impressive in its recognition of the perils inherent in the power of this "voice" that is to "speak" directively to the govern­ments of earth. Every Adventist worker instinctively thinks of the outline of Revelation 13:11-18. We must keep our eyes and ears open to these developments.

"The totalitarian spirit in ecclesiastically-minded persons is also assaulting Independency. This spirit promises us a merger of religious bodies which will impress the world. We are promised a 'united church' which will 'speak with one voice,' though what it will say with that voice no one knows. It is to speak to governments, and strike terror into them ! Some of our own leaders appear to have been influenced by this talk. I feel sure they can­not know the effect of it in confusing the young, discouraging the faithful, justifying our bitter critics, and giving the deserters an excuse."

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By C. B. HAYNES, Secretary of the National Service Commission

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