Mormon and Jehovah’s Witness Conscientious Objectors

Event Details
Date: , 2019
Time: to
Location: Studio 1
Venue: M Shed, BS1 4RN
Price: Free
With: Andrew Bolton, Gary Perkins
Series: Commemoration, Conflict & Conscience
Note: This event was not organised by BRHG.
Page Details

‘So British Mormons were also Conscientious Objectors in WWI?’

There were four British Latter Day Saint conscientious objectors (COs) in World War I, three Mormon (LDS), and one Reorganised LDS (RLDS) – now known as Community of Christ. They were among 20,000 COs in the UK, and little known compared with Quaker or socialist COs.   They also suffered hostility from neighbours and workmates.  Unlike Quakers, Latter Days Saints were violent in their early history, although Community of Christ later embraced a peace mission.  Initially USA church leaders of both groups were cautious and suspicious about WWI when it broke out in 1914.  Things changed when the USA entered the war on April 6, 1917, ironically also Good Friday. USA church leaders then became hostile to COs.  Both groups have been present in the UK for over 180 years. What is the significance today of the CO stand of these four British working-class Latter Day Saints in WWI?

‘Refusing to bow to the god of war’ – from Richmond Castle to Sachsenhausen concentration camp’

This commemoration celebrates the collective conscience of the ‘new kids on the block’, the International Bible Students Association (IBSA), explaining how their beliefs prepared them for conflict with ‘the powers that be’ prior to the British Government initiating conscription in 1916. From Richmond to France, how did this group, representing just over 2% of all COs in Britain, come to constitute almost 23% of the COs who faced the death sentence episode?  Why did so many join the Home Office Scheme, and what happened to IBSA absolutists who suffered in Military Prisons in France?  What was learned and shared internationally post-war when, as Jehovah’s Witnesses, they declined any future involvement with war at risk of losing popularity, liberty and even life itself?  How did their stand in Nazi Germany become “unique in the history of conscientious objection”? Finally, what is their legacy and why did they become neglected in peace studies?

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