The Phantom Economy   /   Summer 2010   /    Essays & Short Takes

Historic Peace Churches

Carl Desportes Bowman

“Historic peace church” designates three groups: the Church of  the Brethren, the Mennonites (including the Amish), and the Religious Society of Friends (the Quakers). The Brethren and Mennonites share a long tradition of Christian nonviolence rooted in European Anabaptism. During the 1770s they jointly petitioned  the Pennsylvania  Assembly,  declaring that they had no “freedom of conscience to take up arms” in the colonies’ revolt. During the Civil War,  Brethren and Mennonites  paid  fees and taxes to gain exemption from military service. As late as 1912, the Brethren’s Annual Meeting ruled that “the church of Jesus Christ is no part of this world system.... His citizenship being in heaven, the child of  God sustains the attitude of  a pilgrim  to the affairs  of state.”  Voting  and office holding were discouraged, and early twentieth-century Brethren and Mennonites clearly understood that military service was off  limits.

To read the full article online, please login to your account or subscribe to our digital edition ($25 yearly). Prefer print? Order back issues or subscribe to our print edition ($30 yearly).