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American Religion

The Limits, Lingerings, and Liabilities of Pacifism in the 20th-century Stone-Campbell Movement

When: June 9, 2022, 3:30 pm - Thursday

Where: Ezell 205

Session 5

Session Abstract

The broad trajectory of the Stone-Campbell movement’s transition away from its historic (though not monolithic) pacifism has been revealed by scholars such as Michael Casey and Richard Hughes. But this shift was not universal, or without complexity. This session explores two microhistorical examples—that of Freed-Hardeman College and of Arkansas minister W. Kay Moser—to analyze cases of pacifism abandoned and pacifism persevering, respectively.  A third presentation considers the nature and perceptions of Restorationist non-resistance as a distinctive threat to American policy and interests.

 

Paper Abstracts

Joshua Ward Jeffery, Navajo Technical University, “Restorationist Non-Resistance as a Threat to America”

Theological non-resistance has been a key piece of doctrine in Restorationist churches, and at times, this non-resistance has spurred government persecution. The Sandemanians, early Restorationists and antecedents to the Stone-Campbell Movement, were so heavily persecuted during the Revolutionary War that a majority fled to Canada. Likewise, pacifist members of both the Disciples of Christ and the Churches of Christ later found themselves the target of federal investigations, with some arrested or imprisoned. This paper, using government policy documents, FBI files, memoirs, and journal articles, explores why some have perceived restorationists as threats to American interests, with the resulting persecution and consequences.

 

Greg Massey, Freed-Hardeman University,  “Tested by War: Pacifism at Freed-Hardeman College, 1907–1945”

From Freed-Hardeman College’s founding in 1907, the faculty taught students a doctrine of pacifism, although challenged by successive world wars. During World War I, President A. G. Freed went from writing to President Woodrow Wilson an aggressively worded defense of pacifism to changing the school’s curriculum to support the war effort. In 1934, President N. B. Hardeman and the faculty published a statement affirming biblical support for pacifism in times of war. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the second world war put that position to the test. The war pacifism quieted on campus and would never again have a major presence.

 

Blake Perkins, Williams Baptist University, “‘War is Wrong, Period’: Church of Christ Preacher W. Kay Moser’s Conscientious Objection During the Korean War”

During a gospel meeting in June 1952, W. Kay Moser was jailed for not complying with the military draft. The majority of leaders in the Churches of Christ had abandoned pacifism after World War II, but Moser continued to object to war to the end of his life.  Recent historians have illuminated Christian influences in conscientious objection during the First World War, but less has been done to explore it in the Restoration Movement during World War II and beyond. This microhistorical focus on Moser illustrates the increasing pivot away from an apocalyptic worldview in the Churches of Christ.

Speakers

Corey J. Markum, Freed-Hardeman University, Convener

  • Joshua Ward Jeffery, Navajo Technical University, “Restorationist Non-Resistance as a Threat to America”
  • Greg Massey, Freed-Hardeman University, “Tested by War: Pacifism at Freed-Hardeman College, 1907–1945”
  • Blake Perkins, Williams Baptist University, “‘War is Wrong, Period’: Church of Christ Preacher W. Kay Moser’s Conscientious Objection During the Korean War”
  • Carisse Mickey Berryhill, Abilene Christian University, Respondent

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