Draft and Ministers: a voice from spring of 1941

Appearing in the March 1941 issue of James A. Allen’s Apostolic Times is this from C. E. W. Dorris.  Charles Elias Webb Dorris is in 1941, by all accounts, a veteran preacher, debater and author.  He has not long been retired from Andrew Mizell Burton’s Life and Casualty Life Insurance Company of Tennessee. He remains active in church affairs, especially on the ground in the ongoing work of Central Church in downtown Nashville and through the pages of the weeklies and monthlies like Apostolic Times. In April 1941 Dorris celebrated his 70th birthday.


“Draft and Ministers”

C. E. W. Dorris

The following taken from the Standard Surpeme [sic] Council, 330, Bulletin, a four page paper published from Washington, D.C., doubtless will be interesting to preachers in the draft age.  For this reason, we here reproduce it.

“Several sincere conscientious objectors have refused to register under the Selective Service Act, and a few have gone to jail for violation of this law.  in Illinois, however, a young Protestant minister refused to register, and submitted to arrest, for quite a different reason.  He did not want to accept the automatic immunity from service extended, under the law, to all clerics.

“This was something that had apparently never been considered when the bill was drawn up.  After special consideration, the Illinois Draft Board acting with the approval of National Director Clarence Dykstra, ruled that any minister could wave [sic] his automatic immunity and take his chance in the draft as an ordinary citizen.

“Later it was learned that numerous Protestant divinity students and young ministers had objected to this clause.  They wished to play their part in the national defense program and did not want to hide behind the cloak of ministerial immunity.  In view of this fact, it seems probable that the Illinois decision will mark the way for similar rulings in other states.

“The exemption clause was originally pushed through by the Roman Catholic Church.

It makes no difference so far as I know who pushed the exemption clause through, whether Roman Catholics or Protestants or both, in either case the move was in keeping with the spirit of the New Testament.  This little Book exempts all Christians in all the world from bloodshed and all human slaughter pens.

The way I see it there are but two ways by which this war business can be stopped.  The first is to convert the world to Christianity and second for the governments of earth to pass a universal law that leaders like Hitler who want, and are determined to have war, to be put in the front rank where they will be the first to look down a gunbarrel [sic], see the powder flash and feel the strength of the bullet.  Either plan will stop so much of this war business, for the reason that but a few will be willing to rush into war under such conditions.  Had such a law been passed at the close of the world war and put in force I am satisfied that Hitler would have kept as quiet as a church mouse when a bunch of cats are around.


More to come from CEWD.


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