“I am glad that I ever met the conscientious objectors. They meant a lot to me.” E.J. Swalm records this sentiment from his jailer in St. Catharines, Ont., in Nonresistance Under Test, his brief memoir about his refusal to join the military during World War I.
The elderly man who tended the jail was initially hostile to the young men imprisoned for refusing military service, but asked one of the last prisoners to pray with him to “receive absolution from his sins at the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Did you know?
- World War I began 100 years ago in July 2014.
- During World War I, 8,000 Russian Mennonites served the Red Cross as conscientious objectors.
- The Militia Act in Upper Canada in 1793 recognized exemption from military service based on “scruples of conscience.” Amended in 1868, it was limited to membership of specific religious groups. The Military Service Act passed in 1917 provided exemption to those “prohibited from doing so by the tenets and articles of faith.”