RALEIGH, North Carolina (Mennonite Mission Network) ⸺ Mennonites have walked through history on a path that parallels the military road. The refusal to fight in wars has long been a central part of the Anabaptist peace witness. In attempts to faithfully follow Jesus, Mennonites faced persecution for refusing to participate in World War I. In World War II, they developed the conscientious objector status. And they have protested war in the Middle East.
More recently, however, a collective voice against militarism has dropped to a whisper. A variety of factors has contributed to this silencing, including the perpetual wars waged in response to Sept. 11, 2001. Resistance against these wars has been difficult to maintain given the ongoing nature of the conflicts. In addition, the government and media partners have minimized the horrors of this violence to keep the reality of war out of the news and out of people's minds.
To counteract this, the Peace and Justice Support Network is working in collaboration with Mennonite Church USA staff, area conferences, and peacemakers to create a movement: Mennonites Against Militarism. The planning stages of this campaign are well underway, with more definition of the initiative to be unveiled by this fall.
The planners are hoping to provide fresh pathways in which a new generation of Mennonites and peacemakers can walk together to speak out against militarism. Those who join this movement will receive education about militarism's scope, and tools for resisting it in a time without a military draft.
Mennonites Against Militarism will encourage Mennonites and peacemakers to renew their urgency for speaking out against the ever-expanding reach of militarism. When militarism erupts into war, many of God's children die. Those who live suffer physical, emotional and spiritual injuries. Even if war is not being openly waged, the associated violence of militarism corrupts other aspects of life and the world in which God calls us to be caretakers.
Militarism's all-pervasive influence has a devastating effect on the environment and on our nation's economy that often goes unacknowledged. The gravitational pull exerted on the economy by militarism steers many young men and women into armed service, not out of a sense of duty to country, but as means for earning a living.
Destruction of precious human life, the despoiling of our planet, an unjust and oppressive economy — these are fruits from the poisoned tree of militarism.
Mennonites Against Militarism will give Mennonites and peacemakers a megaphone for proclaiming, "Enough!" This movement offers a fresh opportunity for today's peacemakers to raise a collective voice against the sin of militarism that corrupts and destroys the goodness of life granted by God.