Mennonite Pacifism and World War II

How does one stick to pacifist convictions during war time, especially a war with strong social acceptance? This is the issue Mennonites in the United States faced during World War II. I have written an essay, Civilian Public Service and Mennonite Pacifism, that addresses this question.

I suggest that the key elements in the ability of the young men of draft age to stay faithful to their convictions were the efforts made by their church communities to offer spiritual and material support. About 50% of the Mennonite young men who were drafted performed alternative service (they made up about 40% of all legally recognized conscientious objectors).

Though this was a difficult time for Mennonites in the U.S. in many ways, they emerged from World War II with their sense of identity intact. Many of those who performed alternative service became leaders in the churches in the years following–and exerted a powerful influence in deepening Mennonite pacifist commitments.

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