7. The “Separatist” Tendency

[Link to chapter six]

The COs in this category are a less defined group than the others. The separatists are, in a sense, those COs who do not fit in the other three categories nor as a combination of any of them. The group most definitive of the separatists, similar to the Mennonites’ relationship to the servant category, are the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Attitude toward the State

Most COs with separatist tendencies, especially Witnesses, had a hostile attitude toward the state insofar as the state’s war-making efforts impinged upon their ministry. The state interfered with evangelism, the main ministry of the Witnesses primarily by drafting them.

Witnesses believed that the state served the Devil, especially during times of conscription, and they professed no loyalty toward the state. They also believed that for them to fight in the state’s wars would be morally wrong. Witnesses and the US government had mutually hostile attitudes dating back to World War I, when top Witness leaders had been imprisoned for opposing participation in that war.

This hostility increased on the eve of World War II when the US Supreme Court ruled in the Gobitis case that local schools could indeed force Witness children to render the flag salute despite Witness claims that such a practice violated their religious convictions. Shortly after the Supreme Court handed down its decision, local school boards passed resolutions requiring the saluting of the flag as a condition for receiving public education. In many parts of the country, mainly in small towns and rural areas, Witnesses experienced a form of persecution that only made most of them even more determined never to cooperate with government in any matter.[1]

Witness CPSer Clayton C. Speary reflects this attitude:

“Shortly after World War I there was set up a League of Nations, the next attempt at world-wide totalitarian rule. This was the ‘abomination of desolation’ spoken of by the prophet Daniel. Now the world is again engaged in a global war in which leaders of both the Axis and the Allies are determined that a united worldwide government will be the result. When this beast, as Revelation calls it, reappears, it will amaze all the peoples of the earth and they will say, ‘Peace and safety.’ The dominant factor in that rule will be religion. The devil’s woman, Babylon, or his religious organization, will ride the great seven-headed beast and will exercise guiding influence over all the nations of the earth according to the scriptures of Revelation 17. This will be the pinnacle of the scheme of the devil’s organization to regiment all the people of the earth, either to rule or to ruin.”[2]

This attitude can also be seen in an unsigned article that explained why some Witnesses felt that they could not cooperate with church-administered CPS.

“Witnesses pray, ‘Thy kingdom come…’ It would be hypocritical to the extreme to pray for a Kingdom of justice, truth, and peace and participate in a war system exemplifying the direct opposite. Witnesses must ‘love righteousness and hate iniquity’ by their speech and course of action. Because we must be Witnesses to a Kingdom of righteous peace and because the present system of extreme wickedness is in direct opposition thereto, we must fear and ‘obey God rather than man,’ even if so doing means life itself. Witnesses believe that orthodox religion is the opposite of Christianity. It would therefore be grossly inconsistent to remain in a religious camp when a choice is possible. We further think that the present alliance between religion and state for the purpose of administering a part of the SS law is in violation of the democratic (and very necessary) policy of a separation of church and state.”[3]

About 90% of drafted Witnesses ended up going to prison. They either viewed CPS as too restrictive of their evangelistic activities and therefore refused to accept it as an acceptable alternative, or else they simply refused to respond to SS at all when they failed to receive complete exemption from the draft. They requested such exemption on the basis of being “ministers” entitled to complete exemptions. Generally, with the claim rarely being accepted, Witnesses went to prison.

As would be expected, such a situation contributed to a negative attitude toward the government by Witnesses. Occasionally in Witness publications and in a few articles and interviews with Witnesses in CPS camp newspapers, they made comments critical of the War effort. As a rule, however, Witness negatively focused on the state’s restriction of evangelism and not on the state’s violence in illegitimately fighting a war.

Witnesses tended to be very apolitical and culturally conservative. They had none of the resisters’ or transformers’ urges to change society. Their hostility toward the state had little to do with a sense that the state should be different or that society should be different. They felt no attraction to anarchism like some resisters or socialism like some transformers. Like servants, they did not care about transforming society, but unlike servants they did not accept the state’s right to conscript them.

Attitude toward Social Change

Separatists, in particular Witnesses, felt virtually no sense of responsibility for social change beyond the need to evangelize everyone in society. Their whole sense of responsibility centered on their church.

Witnesses in prison did not, on the whole, find themselves very interested in issues such as race relationships, prison censorship (with the exception of their own publications), general opposition to conscription (except with reference to their vocational emphasis), and prison “abuses.” For Witnesses, the kingdom’s imminent coming will put an end to all terrestrial tribulations, and they lacked the social consciousness so often revealed in the relationships and acts of other COs.[4]

Each Witness believed that he had made a “covenant with the Lord” that obliged him to rise above the carnal warfare of contending temporal powers in order that he might devote his full efforts to the task of evangelizing the world and preparing it for the far more important struggle, the imminent Armageddon where God directly battles against all the nations of the earth. Witnesses did not claim to be pacifists. Rather, they considered themselves morally committed to take up arms in this ultimate battle to be waged directly by God against the forces of evil. Most of them accepted the legitimacy of self-defense or the defense of their families and property.[5]

The sense of loyalty that Witnesses felt to church over any particular nation is articulated by Witness CPSer Dwight Hunter:

“I base my objection completely upon God’s law as set forth in the HOLY BIBLE. Men were created equal, and should have remained equal but for grasping greed, etc., which was instigated by Satan, the Devil. A man who would be a follower of God should be absolutely neutral concerning one nation against another. I am wholly devoted to Jehovah God and his Kingdom, for which Jesus taught all true Christians to pray, and must remain absolutely neutral as to the wars of one nation against another. If I participate in war of any form, as one nation against another, I will be guilty of violating all God’s laws.”[6]

Witnesses violated the law, not primarily due to opposition to war, but rather due to opposition to any restrictions on their preaching. They did oppose World War II, viewing it as they did in the light of their theology, but they gave precedence to the vocational aspect of their resistance. No human authority had the right to interfere with their proclamation of the end of the world, whether in war or in peace.[7]

The Witnesses’ church, which they called the Watchtower Society, very strictly and powerfully influenced them and demanded their allegiance. Their deep commitment to their church empowered many of them to be willing to go to prison for their convictions. They saw the social order outside the church as Satan’s domain and as doomed for imminent destruction. Hence, they had no urge whatever to effect social change, seeing such efforts as fruitless and as unnecessary diversions from their main task – i.e., personal evangelism.

Sources of Central Influence

The writings of the group’s leaders, especially Judge Rutherford, exerted the main influence on Witnesses. The Watchtower magazine published these writings weekly. They provided the main text for Witness church services, and all Witnesses read them. Rutherford and his fellow leaders asserted that Witnesses must not join the military and they frowned upon acceptance of any kind of alternative service which would restrict their witnessing.

Experience with Regard to Prison

Most of the drafted Witnesses ended up in prison. They refused to report to the military or to CPS for two reasons. First, such service too severely restricted their opportunities to evangelize. Witnesses possessed an intense sense of mission, an unwavering belief in the necessity of proclaiming the imminent Time of the End. They vividly portrayed their apocalyptic vision, and it appealed to a large number of men and women who found themselves lost in a chaotic modern world.

Young Witnesses concluded that they must agree to no service that would interfere with their witnessing. To them, only the preaching of their message on street corners and its propagation by means of phonograph records in house-to-house calls fulfilled their calling in life. Whatever their occupation might be – mechanics, artisans, farmers, clerks – they regarded themselves primarily as preachers of the coming Armageddon. Those most zealous to do the Lord’s work gave up all worldly tasks for the full-time mission of preaching.[8]

Most Witnesses requested deferment from the draft based on their claim to be ministers. A crucial point of difference between Witnesses and the draft boards arose over the definition of a “minister.” The boards, many of which contained clergy or asked clergy for advice, generally said that a “minister” had to be one of the orthodox clergy. Witnesses, following a more biblical definition, claimed that all Christians are ministers and should therefore be classified as such, and hence exempted.[9]

Most local draft boards, however, refused to consider Witnesses for either IV-D (ministerial exemption) or IV-E (conscientious objector) classification. In such cases the devout Witness could only refuse to report to the Army and thus subject himself to civil prosecution. Even when granted IV-E status, most Witnesses opposed CPS and declined to report to CPS camps. All together, Witnesses constituted about 75% of COs prosecuted during the War, and in the overwhelming majority of these cases the government technically charged them with failure to report to the Army or to CPS, as ordered.[10]

In many instances evidence indicates that Witnesses engaged in ministerial work for a total of more than the 80 hours a month that the Director of SS set as a minimum for classification as ministers. In a few cases, local boards and appeal boards clearly ignored the claims of Witnesses spending all their time as ministers.[11]

Another problem Witnesses had with draft boards arose over questions regarding their commitment to pacifism. Some draft boards refused to classify Witnesses as COs because Witnesses said they would fight in a war if Jehovah ordered it, or would fight to protect their property. In fact those Witnesses who are members of the church believe that they actually will fight in the battle of Armageddon only if they die off the earth before it starts. In a post-World War II case, the Supreme Court held that this belief should not keep a Witness from being classified as a CO.[12]

Some of the statements submitted by Witnesses to draft boards in order to substantiate their claims for draft exemption indicated opposition to war based on the scriptural texts and examples cited. Furthermore, some stated that they did not believe in the use of force and declared that military force would be wrong in any circumstance. Only a minority, however, articulated a pacifist position. Most Witnesses indicated a specific acceptance of the legitmacy of force in self-defense and for the furtherance of “God’s work.” As one put it, the use of force is permissible “…in self defense. I am not a pacifist, as God and Christ are not pacifists. I believe that I have the right to defend myself against those that fight against me or my belief.”[13]

This qualified opposition to war should not have disqualified Witnesses from receiving CO status. Total pacifism is not identical with conscientious objection before the law. Neither self-defense nor the possible defense of home, family, and church places one outside its provisions. To state it concretely, the law circumscribes those who object to war begun and directed by political bodies on this earth. It does not require that one object also to wars directed by a being beyond the human. The latter involves the belief of Witnesses who would fight if commanded to do so by God. At the same time, it places the defense of family, home, life, and church outside the category of war.[14]

The government, without doubt, often unfairly dealt harshly with Witnesses during World War II. According to the criteria for recognizing a potential draftee as a minister, that person must spend 80 hours per month at the ministry. Many, if not most, Witnesses easily spent that much time in evangelistic activities, which, to them, constituted the main element of their ministerial work.

Many Witnesses, on being refused 4-D classification and given a choice to do alternative service, chose instead to go to prison rather than be non-combatants or go into CPS. In 1942, however, General Lewis Hershey of SS ruled that Witnesses putting in over 80 hours per month on work of a ministerial character had a justifiable claim for 4-D classification.[15]

Despite Hershey’s 1942 ruling, local boards persisted in giving 4-E and 1-A classifications to Witnesses whose monthly time devoted to church work exceeded 80 hours. Sometimes local prejudice against Witnesses fueled this discrimination; board ignorance contributed to other cases; in yet other instances influential Catholics on the board might have been responsible (Witnesses had a well-known hostility toward the Catholic church). Some Witnesses did receives 4-D by local boards, but far fewer than those denied that classification.[16]

Not only did the state refuse to grant Witnesses legally entitled deferments, but Witnesses received the harshest treatment for their “draft evasion.” All COs received harsher sentences than simple draft evaders, even though as a rule COs did not “evade” the draft but turned themselves in and openly faced the consequences. Of the COs, Witnesses received the harshest treatment, even though they obviously lives as well-behaved, law-abiding citizens otherwise and made no efforts to spread anti-war propaganda either in prison or in the outside world.

The average prison sentence of Witnesses ending June 30, 1944, was 42 months; for other COs, it was 34 months; for those violators of the Selective Training and Service Act who did not claim conscientious objection, it was only 28 months. By 1945 the average had been altered only slightly, being, respectively, 45, 37, and 28 months. Rather consistently throughout the course of the War, Witnesses received harsher sentences than other COs, while COs as a class received longer sentences than those violators of the Selective Service Act who did not claim to be COs. In order of increasing severity of sentences to federal prison during World War II were: violators of liquor laws, violators of narcotic laws, defiers of the postal laws, white slavers, Selective Service Act violators who did not claim to be COs, COs, and Witnesses.[17]

An example of the legal problems faced by Witnesses is the case of Andrew Campbell. Selective Service instructed Campbell to report for induction on April 16, 1943, after classifying him as eligible for induction. He believed that he had been improperly classified, that he should have been classified as a CO or minister, and thus he chose not to report for induction. After his arrest, his attorney introduced evidence at the trial to prove that Campbell had been wrongly classified. But the judge instructed the jury to ignore that point, and merely rest their decision on the answer to the questions: did he report for induction? The jury found Campbell guilty and sentenced him to prison. This case exemplifies the fact that the judiciary refused to review in time the propriety of draft boards’ decision.

The US Supreme Court upheld this refusal in Falbo vs. US when Hugo Black argued for the majority that a Witness properly should report to the induction center and then seek a writ a habeas corpus to get himself out. Witnesses found this unacceptable, since once in the Army they would be required to salute superiors, which their convictions forbade. That refusal would lead to arraignment before a military court, and result in a jail sentence for many more than five years. Thus Witnesses continued to refuse induction.[18]

The approximately 4,500 Witnesses in prison tended to live in a ghetto-like existence. They formed strong cliques within the prison population, sharing little in common either with the other COs or with the prison population at large. They carried on continual studies together, focusing on The Watchtower and other Witness publications. They might invite interested seekers to attend, but generally did not engage in much evangelism, perhaps because such efforts would generally be very quickly and emphatically rejected.

As a rule, Witnesses in prison had no more popularity, either with inmates in general or with other COs, than they did outside the walls of prison. Not that personal friendships did not exist between Witnesses and other COs; not that others did not admire Witnesses for the strength of their religious commitment; not even that Witnesses and other COs did not cooperate at times in matters of common interest – but rather that even in instances of cooperation between Witnesses and non-Witnesses the sense of different assumptions and widely varying objectives served to obscure to a certain extent these temporary agreements.[19]

Attitude toward CPS

About 10% of the drafted Witnesses went into CPS. As a rule, these men saw themselves as lacking the strength of faith as those who went to prison.

This can be seen in the testimony of Witness CPSers Fred Reidneker:

“Due to the draft law which says all normal young men must give a certain amount of time of their lives for their country, hopefully for military service, there was by three places to go: 1) military; 2) CPS; or 3) prison. In view of the fact Witnesses go to prison because of their consecration to do God’s will, which is to preach the good news of Jehovah’s government that will be set up here on the earth regardless of men or governments and that I, as a new member of Witnesses not having the knowledge that makes one strong enough in faith to go on with the witness work which would have led to prison, I willingly entered CPS. In making this decision I knew that only my will could keep me in camp. I knew also that I could give further witness to Jehovah’s Kingdom by Jesus Christ in camp and that I might study the Bible further concerning Jehovah’s purpose.”[20]

The Witnesses in CPS tended to be very quiet and keep to themselves. They had little in common with any of the CPSers characterized by other tendencies.

Separatists (generally from small groups such as – besides Witnesses – Christadelphians; Molokans; Church of the First Born; Church of Jesus Christ, First Divine Association; Foursquare Gospel; Walking Jerusalem; Zoroastrian; and Vegetarian Pacifist Society) characteristically tended to draw apart from the rest of the camp into their own circle, with the object of maintaining the solidarity of their particular habits and beliefs.[21]

Witnesses passively cooperated, doing their work and did not consciously try to subvert the system like some resisters. But, in contrast to both transformers and servants, they had little sense of a calling to be fulfilled by their humanitarian work within CPS. Also, they did not share the total commitment to nonviolence that most CPSers did, especially those in Mennonite camps. They likely would never have spoken of CPS as a worthwhile institution and certainly would not have seen it as offering a significant opportunity for them to fulfill their calling in life.

Due to their lack of harmony with the basic commitments of most CPSers, Witnesses were seen as a somewhat disruptive element in the program, and their presence there did not serve the best interests of those who wished to achieve a strong sense of unity and community among all campers.[22]

Several Witnesses eventually walked out of CPS and went to prison. But the reasons for doing this had little in common with the resisters’ choices to do that – i.e., for Witnesses such acts were not overtly political statements against conscription and any compromise with it. For the Witnesses, taking “the walk” simply had to do with feeling they faced too many restrictions on their evangelistic efforts and desiring the need to have the closer fellowship with other Witnesses which the prison situation afforded.

The Paradigmatic Fruit of This Tendency

The major important fruit of separatists in general, and Witnesses in particular, perhaps rests simply in their incredible communal strength to resist the intense pressures of American society to force them to fight in the War. Around 4,5000 Witnesses accepted the drastic sanction of prison internment (often unjustly) without giving in. This complete unwillingness to back down had the effect of loosening the restrictiveness of government policy regarding conscientious objection and also highlighted the power that intense internal communal discipline and commitment has over efforts of the state to overcome those commitments.

Long-Term Attitudes

Witnesses, as a rule, maintained their commitment to refusing to cooperate with the state throughout the War. The fact that most of them received the ultimate sanction very quickly upon being drafted probably helped them to do so. This freed them from being weighed down by the fear of prison since they were already there. They also likely faced little hindrance from internal doubts as to whether they resisted enough or if maybe they should be fighting like other COs.

Witnesses, at least to some degree and largely in CPS, did face one type of attrition – some young men “lost their faith” altogether and left the Watchtower Society. Several of these men thereupon went into the military. In a few cases, Witnesses left the Society but remained in CPS as “true” pacifists.

Proportion of the Total CO Population

Separatists constituted a small minority within CPS and a large majority of the prison population. Probably about 1,000 CPSers (slightly less than 10%) had separatist tendencies, about half of those being Witnesses and the rest a large mixture of members of small religious groups who shared only a predisposition against accepting much in the way of compromise with the wider world. About 4,500 separatist COs went to prison (about 75% of the total CO prison population), almost all Witnesses, though a few Black Muslims and similar COs likely fit in this category.

The total amount in the separatist category (about 5,500) equaled about 30% of the total CO population. The separatists plus the servants totaled about 75% of the entire CO population.

Major Community Identity

As with servants, separatists tended to have no community affiliation outside of their church involvement. Jehovah’s Witnesses made up the large majority of separatists. This group, a so-called cult or hetero-orthodox Christian group that emphasized a belief in the imminent coming of God’s final judgment on an evil earth, had a strong evangelistic emphasis, very strong internal discipline, and an authoritarian leadership style. Their call to evangelize and the view that governments of the world are part of what is evil and soon to be destroyed meant for Witnesses that true servants of Jehovah have no obligations to fight for any state and, in fact, must not do so. Hence, the Witnesses refused to fight in any humanly governed war while nevertheless being willing to fight in a Jehovah-governed Battle of Armageddon.

During the time of World War II, the membership of the Watchtower Society totaled about 75,000. Very few of these people went into the military which is why the number of Witness COs roughly equaled the number of Mennonite COs, even though the Mennonite population numbered about twice that of the Witnesses.

Other groups that provided separatist COs included Black Muslims, Christadelphians, Molokans, and, to some degree at least, some Old Order Amish. Though most Amish better fit in the servant category, it would appear that numerous Amish young men went into CPS strictly because of communal pressure to do so and had little commitment to service in that context. They put in their time and got out as soon as possible, foregoing any kind of involvement in camp life or service and educational activities.

The Christadelphian Church, as a whole perhaps the most strict of the non-resistant groups, took action to disfellowship all members who entered the military forces. On the other hand, the group was not politically active. The Christadelphians did not work against the War, each one simply took his individual stand when called upon to participate. As of 1936, the Christadelphians had 2,755 members in 109 local churches. Of the men inducted during the War, 136 went into CPS, 10 joined the military, and four went to prison.[23]

Molokan CPSer Jack Pavloff summarized his church’s stand with regard to war, though he notes elsewhere that few young men of his generation retained their pacifism. According to SS, about 95% of the inducted Molokans joined the military:[24]

“Pacifism is an important tradition in our belief. One merely accepts it as a religion and endeavors to carry out its meaning to the fullest possible measure. In general, part of our elders’ stand on the problem is: ‘We are Russians by birth, but Spiritual Christians by the grace of God….Our allegiance we owe to God only. We do not share in the activities of a political order….We do not deny government. We consider it necessary to comply with it….War is the greatest enemy of God. War is instigated by Antichrist himself.’ Along with this, a major portion of our stand is based upon the commandment, ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ and, of course, the Sermon on the Mount. For our belief in pacifism many of our elders suffered untold tortures during the last war. Our men stood before fire hoses turned directly into their faces until unconsciousness overtook them; prayed and fasted for stretches of eight days, were dragged around with ropes around their necks like animals, had the skins of their necks peeled off, their ears slit, had hairs pulled out of their heads like feathers; yet they prayed to God and thanked him for his mercy.”[25]

Pavloff continues in his report to outline the present-day problems Molokans were facing regarding their pacifism.

“The average modern Molokan of today is comparatively weak in his stand on religion. He is definitely weaker on his pacifist views, but he is rising to a more realistic position in life. To attain the high regard of sacrifice and suffering accomplished by our forefathers is not only impossible, but undoubtedly beyond us. Ours is a struggle to grasp and to hold on to what we have as best we can. The struggle as carried out by our parents, we merely inherit. The overall picture creates a bewildered second generation in America, groping in the dark, feeling for a way out. Will we maintain the Russian language? Will we lose our culture and religion? Time holds the answer. In the meantime, we remain a very unorthodox but sincere type of American.”[26]

Inclinations on an Individualistic/Communal Spectrum

Separatists in general, and Witnesses in particular clearly fit very far over on the communal side of the scale.

World War II made Witnesses more thane ver a closed group that saw outsiders as “foreigners.” During the War, they felt themselves to be under surveillance because of their refusal to support any government in the War. In the face of outward pressure, they re-emphasized their separation from the rest of the community, withdrew into the fellowship of the like-minded, and defined less permeable boundaries around their corporate life.[27]

For the large majority, it would appear, the choice to be COs was primarily a response to church policy. They evinced very little individuality in their written statements to draft boards and in their accounts of their convictions in CPS newspapers.

Their convictions regarding involvement or non-involvement in warfare, some observers said, came strictly from their community and not the individual Witness. Such an interpretation of the Witness experience is no doubt somewhat distorted. It is impossible to ascertain how deeply personal the Witnesses’ convictions were. Clearly, though, they shared a great deal of perspective with one another, indicating a common source and a strong sense of group solidarity.

Witnesses tended in each prison to act as a group under the direction of a chosen leader. Disciplined from above as well as through a common intensely believed doctrine, they could usually be persuaded (by the prison administration, for example) to act as a unit, once their leader had decided on a given course of action. Thus commonly, in many prisons, when the authorities felt that an individual Witness was in need of discipline, the warden first spoke to the prison leader of the Witness group and thus applied prison discipline indirectly through the Witness leader himself. This sense of group responsibility, among other things, sharply separated Witnesses from most other COs in prison. While the latter might form ad hoc groups to gain particular ends, they experienced a much greater degree of individualism than the Witnesses.[28]

The effect of the community on the long-term commitment of Witnesses to their costly stand must have been considerable. Insofar as they received strong support for their activities by the religious group of which they were members (indeed, to some extent having these activities prescribed), they conformed to established religious standards in their deviant wartime actions. The “encouragement” differed from that available, for example, to the Mennonite objector, for the Witness had no recognized peace traditions or “pacifist line” to follow. His “line” consisted of a set of concepts that held him under the compulsion of conscience to remain neutral in the wars between earthly powers so that he might advance what he believed to be the will of God.

The very nature of the “encouragement” given him by his religious beliefs enabled him to withstand enormous social pressure. The religious duty assumed by the Witness in regular life obliged him to make his way in the face of direct resistance and severe sanctions. He engaged in a door-to-door ministry or one that had him standing on the busiest street-corners of a community distributing literature in an attempt to “convert” the world. As a result of this, he received personal rebuffs and ridicule at all times.[29]

Somehow, these men gained encouragement and courage to continue on. Part of this, at least, allegedly came from a fearful encouragement that should they waver, they (and perhaps their families, should they have families) would lose their salvation. Certainly, the picture painted of the Witness fellowship is not one of joy and freedom.[30]

Relative Articulateness, Especially as Concerns the Outside World

Separatists in general articulated few of their convictions and experiences regarding conscientious objection.

Despite their numbers and their desire to “witness” their beliefs, Witnesses as objectors to army or CPS induction in World War II received little understanding, either from the public or by fellow-objectors. Witnesses did not customarily issue individual statements of their position as did many other COs. Although Witnesses had numerous and easily available publications, the peculiar idiom of their utterances discouraged people unused to biblical literalism and apocalyptic views of life. They professed no general theory of violence and nonviolence. They quite willingly on occasion defended themselves by physical force; and their doctrine seemed to imply a willingness to engage in one kind of war, with the aid and approval of Jehovah. Yet clearly their actions and attitudes during World War II can be characterized as deeply conscientious.[31]

They rarely wrote during the War, and few have written anything since. Hence, much of what is said above is by the nature of the case quite speculative.

Strengths and Weaknesses

The main strength of separatists can be seen in their very strong sense of communal solidarity that only stronger in the face of the societal pressures they faced. This exemplifies the potential power of these groups. Jehovah’s Witnesses, in particular, by the uncompromising strength of their commitments to adhere to their group’s policies and convictions, did have the effect in the years following World War II of loosening government restrictiveness in its treatment of religious objectors.

On the other hand, separatists had little or no interactions with other COs beyond the necessary, hence they had little openness to learn new things or be challenged in their own thinking.

Many separatists seem to have had little personal ownership of the convictions that led them to be COs. Their communal life appears to have been somewhat coercive, contributing to their commitments to refuse to fight being based more on fear of communal sanctions than on any positive beliefs. Consequently, as well, when separatists lost their commitment to their religious group, they also tended to lose their commitment to being conscientious objectors.

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[1] Herbert Hewitt Stroup, The Jehovah’s Witnesses (New York: Columbia University Press, 1945), 164.

[2] Clayton C. Speary, “Witnesses of Jehovah God,” Seed #11 (May 1943), 4-5.

[3] “Presenting: Jehovah’s Witnesses,” CPS GI #3 (Jan. 1944), 4.

[4] Mulford Q. Sibley and Philip E. Jacob, Conscription and Conscience: The American State and the Conscientious Objector, 1940-1947 (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1952), 357-358.

[5] Gordon Zahn, “A Descriptive Study of the Social Backgrounds of Conscientious Objectors in Civilian Public Service During World War II” (Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1953), 239-240.

[6] Dwight Hunter, “Why I am a CO,” The Columbian 1.8 (May 9, 1942), 6-7.

[7] Joseph R. Conlin, American Anti-War Movements (Beverly Hills, CA: Glencoe Press, 1968), 42.

[8] Conlin, American, 41.

[9] Timothy White, A People for His Name: A History of Jehovah’s Witnesses and an Evaluation (New York: Vantage Press, 1967), 342.

[10] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 335.

[11] Conlin, American, 41.

[12] White, A People, 342-343.

[13] Zahn, “Descriptive,” 246.

[14] Thomas J. Etten, “An Historical and Ethical Evaluation of Selective Conscientious Objection in the United States” (Ph.D. dissertation, Catholic University of America, 1970), 78-79.

[15] Peter Brock, Twentieth-Century Pacifism (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970), 174-175.

[16] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 70-71.

[17] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 346.

[18] White, A People, 340-341.

[19] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 357.

[20] Fred Reideneker, “Reasons for Choosing CPS,” Weeping Water News Drops 1.1 (Aug. 8, 1942), 3.

[21] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 169.

[22] Zahn, “Descriptive,” 241.

[23] Neal M. Wherry, Conscientious Objection (Washington, DC: Selective Service System Special Monographs, 1950), 14-15, 320-321.

[24] Wherry, Conscientious, 325.

[25] Jack Pavloff, “The Case of the Molokans,” Sequoia Hi-Lites 2.10 (Oct. 1944), 2-3, 6.

[26] Pavloff, “The Case,” 26.

[27] Stroup, Jehovah’s, 35.

[28] Sibley and Jacob, Conscription, 356.

[29] Zahn, “Descriptive,” 242-243.

[30] Cf. Stroup, Jehovah’s. This work, written during World War II, contains an extensive and quite sensitive account of Witness worship services and general communal existence.

[31] Conlin, American, 38.