Paul Alexander 1-31-2014

WHEN I FOUND out years ago that most early Pentecostal denominations had been committed to nonviolence—including the Assemblies of God, the denomination of my heritage—I thought it was about the dumbest thing I’d ever heard. Not kill for the United States of America (or any country)?

Then I stumbled upon the Pentecostal Evangel, a weekly magazine of the Assemblies of God (USA), which published these revealing words during World War I:

From the very beginning the [Pentecostal] movement has been characterized by Quaker principles. The laws of the Kingdom, laid down by our elder brother, Jesus Christ, in the Sermon on the Mount, have been unqualifiedly adopted, consequently the movement has found itself opposed to the spilling of the blood of any man.

This was new to me. I was reared in a U.S. Pentecostalism that taught intense loyalty to the United States and deep pride in combatant military service. Where did this hidden history of Pentecostal nonviolence come from?

Reading other early accounts of Pentecostal peacemaking prompted me to further examine where it had gone and whether it could re-emerge. It would also challenge and deconstruct my understanding of Christianity.

A senior Vatican official on Tuesday (April 17) called for stronger protection for conscientious objection for both the Catholic Church and individual Catholics when they are faced with laws that conflict with their “moral norms.”

Speaking at Italy's Catholic University in Milan, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, former governor of the Vatican City State, waded into the fight between the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Obama administration over mandatory insurance coverage for contraception, saying the mandate raises "serious problems of conscience” for Catholic institutions and citizens.

Duane Shank 1-30-2012
Conscientious objectors rally in Germany. Image via Getty Images.

Peace activists support Iraq war veteran and now conscientious objector Agustin Aguayo. Photo by Getty Images.

One of the U.S. Constitution's difficult balances is found in the freedom of religion clause of the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

What happens when those two values conflict?

That is the issue with the controversy over whether religiously-affiliated organizations should be required to offer free coverage for contraception in health insurance plans made available to employees. Those opposed — most notably Catholic organizations — claim that this requirement would violate their freedom of conscience. Those who support it claim that exempting religiously-affiliated organizations would establish a religion over the rights of individuals.

Evan Knappenberger 7-01-2011

A former Army intelligence analyst in Iraq talks about Bradley Manning, the weight of conscience, and the witness of St. Paul.

Logan Isaac 11-22-2010

This series written by Logan Mehl-Laituri for God's Politics focuses on selective conscientious objection. Read more posts in this series here.

Logan Isaac 11-08-2010

This is the fourth installment of a series Logan Mehl-Laituri is writing for God's Politics focusing on selective conscientious objection.

Logan Isaac 11-01-2010

This is the third installment of a series Logan Mehl-Laituri is writing for God's Politics focusing on selective conscientious objection.

Logan Isaac 10-13-2010

This is the second installment of a series Logan Mehl-Laituri is writing for God's Politics focusing on selective conscientious objection. Read his first installment here.

Logan Isaac 9-30-2010

Last March I testified at the Truth Commission on Conscience in War (TCCW) at the Riverside Church in New York City.

When the nation is the object of one's highest concern; when national documents are considered holy scripture; when the nation's founders and historical figures are lifted to the status of demi-god
Logan Isaac 8-06-2010
Last weekend, Christian leaders and lay persons from all walks of life and just about every denominational body came together for the Peace Among the Peoples
Shane Claiborne 3-23-2010
I can't imagine a better way to lament the 7th anniversary of the war in Iraq than by spending it with Iraq veterans who are horrified by the war and courageously speaking out against it
Logan Isaac 2-09-2010
Not long ago, I blogged about my trip to Iraq with fellow God's Politics blogger Shane Claiborne and
Aaron Taylor 3-27-2009
As I write this post, I'm sitting in a hotel room in Eugene, Oregon waiting for the Society for Pentecostal Studies conference to start. It's nice to have a day to myself.
Kaitlin Barker 11-12-2008

Life is easier in black and white, when things are clearly right or clearly wrong. We tend not to like the gray very much. It was certainly easier for me to hard-headedly disapprove of all war, including those who took part in it. But, working at an orphanage in India, I met Chad, a young man fresh from Iraq with an American flag tattoo, and he muddled up my clarity.

Stacia Brown 9-01-2006

A growing number of U.S. soldiers are saying no to the Iraq war.

Rose Marie Berger 8-01-2006

  • Gold Medal. Palestinian Christian Naim Ateek, founder of the Sabeel Ecumenical Liberation Theology Center in Jerusalem, received an award from the Peace Fellowship of