William Ellery Channing, minister of the Federal Street Church in Boston, formed the Peace Society of Massachusetts on December 28th, 1815. The foundation of this organization emanated from Channing's earlier work with a group of Congregational ministers to better inform public perception of the brutality of war.
Channing often used his sermons to express his opposition to the War of 1812. Here, he details typical horrors and miseries of war and notes a contradiction between public damnation of isolated violence and public acceptance of the "idea of human beings employing every power and faculty in the work of mutual destruction."
Paul Tillich, German theologian and chaplain to the German army in World War I, emigrated from Germany in 1933, as Nazi ideologies became prominent.
Shortly after the United States joined the Allied effort in 1941, the U.S. Office of War Information asked Tillich to write Voice of America addresses to the German people. More than one hundred of Tillich's drafted addresses were broadcast to the German people between 1942 and 1945 urging Germans to recognize the injustice and cruelty of Hitler's regime and the need for the "True Germany" to resist him.
On October 16, 1940, Howard Schomer, a minister of the United Church of Christ, reported to his draft board in Oak Park, Illinois, to declare his conscientious objection. The draft automatically exempted ministers and divinity students from service upon registration but did not give them the opportunity to enlist as conscientious objectors. Schomer was arrested by U.S. Marshals one month later for his protest action. The Illinois Selective Service Board changed their policies soon after, however, and Schomer enlisted as a conscientious objector. He performed alternative service through the American Friends Service Committee.
Throughout the twentieth century, many American denominations have operated educational and support programs for conscientious objectors to help frame the argument that objection is a moral alternative to the selective service.
The petitions shown here were signed at numerous congregations to supplement a 1973 Unitarian Universalist General Assembly resolution and to call on the U.S. Congress to provide universal amnesty "in the spirit of pride in the moral conscience of its [members]."