Opposition to the Vietnam War Part VIII

Clergy

The clergy, often a forgotten group during the opposition to the Vietnam War, played a large role as well. The clergy covered any of the religious leaders and members including individuals such as Martin Luther King Jr. In his speech “Beyond Vietnam” King stated, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today: my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.” King was not looking for racial equality through this speech, but tried to voice for an end to the war instead.

The involvement of the clergy did not stop at King though. The analysis entitled “Social Movement Participation: Clergy and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement” expands upon the anti-war movement by taking King, a single religious figurehead, and explaining the movement from the entire clergy’s perspective. The clergy were often forgotten though throughout this opposition. The analysis refers to that fact by saying, “The research concerning clergy anti-war participation is even more barren than the literature on student activism.”  There is a relationship and correlation between theology and political opinions and during the Vietnam War, the same relationship occurred between feelings about the war and theology. This article basically was a social experiment finding results on how the pastors and clergy members reacted to the war. Based on the results found, they most certainly did not believe in the war and wished to help end it.

Another source, Lift Up Your Voice Like A Trumpet: White Clergy And The Civil Rights And Antiwar Movements, 1954–1973 explains the story of the entire spectrum of the clergy and their involvement. Michael Freidland is able to completely tell the story in his chapter entitled, “A Voice of Moderation: Clergy and the Anti-War Movement: 1966–1967”. In basic summary, each specific clergy from each religion had their own view of the war and how they dealt with it, but as a whole, the clergy was completely against the war.

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