The Fight Against the Present Darkness: The Mennonite Reaction to the Vietnam War
Keywords:Vietnam War, Annabaptists, Mennonite community, pacifism, peace protests
At the close of the letter to the Ephesians, the quarreling Christian churches of Asia were encouraged with the following, concluding remarks,
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.251
Like the recipients of this letter who faced internal divide within their community, the American Mennonites living in the mid-twentieth century were faced with an outbreak of religious schisms within the Anabaptist community due to the war being waged by the United States in Vietnam. However, like the early Christians of Asia, these Mennonites were called to "fight" against the "present darkness" of the Vietnam War through peaceful, Christ-like means. Historically speaking, the Mennonites had intentionally separated themselves from the "secular" world in order to maintain their religious purity. However, throughout the early to mid-twentieth century, war and social unrest forced American Mennonites to leave their quiet communities and become increasingly involved in promoting social justice in the secular sphere.