Quote of the Day

Elsie Bechtel

Elsie Bechtel

“As a group of people, we have interpreted the Word of God to mean that we should not fight. We have taken a negative stand against war. A negative stand can be dangerous. . . .
[W]e say, ‘Don’t buy war bonds,’ ‘Don’t work in defense plants,’ ‘Don’t support your country in its war effort,’ ‘Don’t enter into the war spirit.’

“It’s a dangerous thing to always say don’t to yourself or others. I have seen parents whose idea of being good was simply not doing evil. They ruled their children by saying “No” and “Don’t” to everything they wanted to do. Consequently, their personalities became inhibited and ineffective.

“An alert parent or teacher will substitute a good activity to replace the evil one, rather than saying ‘don’t,’ they say ‘Do this instead.’

“Any Christian who takes a negative stand against war and does not find a channel into which he can turn his energies and activities is going to find his Christian life thwarted. Relief Service I believe supplies that channel.”

— Elsie C. Bechtel, twentieth century Brethren in Christ relief worker and lay leader, arguing for post-World War II relief service through Mennonite Central Committee as a crucial aspect of the church’s teaching against war, in a 1945 Evangelical Visitor article

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