Joseph Judson Taylor, Man of Peace

[A shorter version of this essay was presented at the 2015 Austrian Economics Research Conference at the Mises Institute.]

Since the beginning of the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, two words that have rarely been seen together are “Baptist” and “pacifist.” We have instead been subject to things like high-profile Baptist leader Jerry Falwell writing a defense of the Iraq war titled “God Is Pro-War,” Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, writing to President Bush that his “policies concerning the ongoing international terrorist campaign against America” were “both right and just,” and the Southern Baptist Convention passing resolutions expressing appreciation for President Bush, U.S. troops, military chaplains, and the war effort.

I have stood against this nonsense from the very beginning. At times virtually alone. I recently discovered a kindred spirit in the Baptist pacifist Joseph Judson Taylor.

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The Great and (Un)Holy War

jenkins_great_and_holy_warOne would think that if there is any group of people that would be opposed to war it would be Christians. After all, they claim to worship the Prince of Peace. But such is not the case now, and such was not the case 100 years ago during the Great War that we now call World War I.

I have often pointed out how strange it is that Christians should be so accepting of war. War is the greatest suppressor of civil liberties. War is the greatest creator of widows and orphans. War is the greatest destroyer of religion, morality, and decency. War is the greatest creator of fertile ground for genocides and atrocities. War is the greatest destroyer of families and young lives. War is the greatest creator of famine, disease, and homelessness. War is the health of the state.

Just as it was easy for the state to enlist the support of Christians for the Cold and Vietnam Wars against “godless communism,” so it is easy now for the state to garner Christian support for the War on Terror against “Islamic extremists.” But World War I was a Christian slaughterhouse. It was Christian vs. Christian, Protestant vs. Protestant, Catholic vs. Catholic. And to a lesser extent, it was also Jew vs. Jew and Muslim vs. Muslim.

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Christians and the Communist Boogeyman

settje_faith_and_warDavid E. Settje, Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars (NYU Press, 2011), xi + 233 pgs., hardcover, $36.

This informative book reminds us that the divide that has existed between Christians over the issues of war and militarism since World War II has usually been a theological one. I mean this in the sense that Christians with a more liberal theological outlook have generally disdained war and militarism even as their conservative Christian counterparts have generally supported these things. As a conservative Christian, I shake my head in amazement that so many of my brethren have been hoodwinked by the state to support its wars, its military, and its foreign policy, whether in the name of fighting communism or terrorism.

Settje is an associate professor of history at Concordia University Chicago. Faith and War: How Christians Debated the Cold and Vietnam Wars (hereafter Faith and War) is not his only book on this subject. His first foray was the more narrowly focused Lutherans and the Longest War: Adrift on a Sea of Doubt about the Cold and Vietnam Wars (2006).

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Libertarianism, The Church, And The Millennial Generation

Libertarianism, the Church, and the Millennial Generation

Last week, I was interviewed on Al Jazeera America’s “Inside Story” show, for a segment about millennials looking to change large institutions. Two other fine young people joined the show as well, Erica Williams of EWS Strategies and entrepreneur Ben Berkowitz of SeeClickFix.com. I had the opportunity to talk about millennials in the church, especially with regards to interactions with government. At first, I thought we would be talking extensively about the government shutdown (which had just ended) and I had prepared a lot of material for just that subject. However, I found out three minutes before filming that we were really going to be talking about the millennials changing large institutions again. So, even though I started a little slow, I think I communicated some good messages about the church and liberty through the segment.

It is rather difficult to find any clips from the show due to AJAM not releasing much online at this time, but I was able to find a Youtube video for the entire show. Hopefully a few of you can watch it before it gets taken down. Perhaps at a later date I’ll find better videos for you. Apologies in advance for the shakiness and excess noise, but what can you do. (Videos after the jump.)

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