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Hope UK Documentary Asks Whether Adventists’ WWI Non-combatancy was a Good Choice


A video documentary by Hope TV in the UK in concert with the British Union Conference delves into the story of Adventist non-combatants during World War One, exploring whether their refusal to bear arms was the right thing to do. The documentary, “A Matter of Conscience,” features extended conversation with David Trim, the director of Archives, Statistics, and Research for the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. 

BUC Communication Director Victor Hulbert led the conversation.

The video’s description poses questions about the rightness of a pacifistic approach:

A documentary looking back to World War 1 and a group of brave young men who chose not to fight. What were their reasons? Did they make a good choice? And how did they stand up to such brutal, inhuman treatment in a military prison that it almost cost them their lives?

Adventist pioneers, in a denomination birthed around the time of the American Civil War, debated military participation vigorously in the pages of the Advent Review and Sabbath Herald. Their question, Trim says, was “Should we be declaring ourselves a peace church in these circumstances?”

The documentary notes the ridicule and aggression Adventist conscientious objectors during World War I incurred from those who felt they were shirking their responsibilities, asking whether their course of action was the best one. Sabbath keeing become another issue. Rather than being a day of rest, it became a day of beatings “that verged on torture,” Trim says. The reason? Adventists refused to do work on their holy day. 

The documentary explores the plight of British soldiers conscripted to fight in “The War to End All Wars.” They were not permitted to have Bibles, they faced court marshall and many other hardships. Through it all, they remained firm in their convictions. It was, as the title suggests, a matter of conscience.

Watch the documentary below.



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