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Pacifism

Pacifism, the opposition to war in any form and under any circumstance, is a philosophical position held by certain people for deeply held religious of ethical reasons. The numbers of true pacifists have never been large, but their influence on American thinking has been disproportionately large. Quakers have always held strongly pacifist views.

The Selective Service and Training Act of 1940 was the first peacetime conscription in American history. It explicitly allowed for the employment of conscientious objectors in non-military projects such as land reclamation, forest fire fighting, and hospital work.

A small minority of those conscientiously opposed to the war also opposed the draft as a tool of the war machine. Eight students attending Union Theological Seminary in New York City refused even to register and issue a statement explaining their position:

We do not contend that the American people maliciously choose the vicious instrument of war. In a very perplexing situation,, they lack the imagination, the religious faith, and the precedents to respond in a different manner. This makes it all the more urgent to build in this country and throughout the world a group trained in the techniques of nonviolent opposition to the encroachments of militarism and fascism. Until we build such a movement, it will be impossible to stall the war machine at home. When we do build such a movement, we will have forged the only weapon which can ever give effective answer to foreign invasion.

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