From pacifism to nonviolent direct action: the Fellowship of Reconciliation and social Christianity, 1914-1947
Ballou, Andrew J.
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This project traces the development of Christian nonviolence in the United States from the outbreak of World War I until just after World War II by focusing on one Christian pacifist organization. The Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), organized in 1915 in opposition to World War I, embraced the left wing of the prewar social gospel and fused its radical vision for social reconstruction with their opposition to war. Over the next thirty years, Christian pacifists associated with the Fellowship applied their energies not only to ending international war but also to promoting reconciliation between employers and workers in the struggle for labor justice and ending racial discrimination. During this period, advocates of nonviolence struggled to define a practical means for applying the principles of Christian pacifism. In contrast to older histories of the interwar period, this study shows that pacifism, a central concern for liberal Protestants during that period, shaped the broader American tradition of dissent. It also rejects the notion that the Christian "realists," led by Reinhold Niebuhr, offered the only comprehensive Christian social ethic between the wars. Finally, this dissertation shows how Christian pacifists in the interwar period embraced and adapted the principles Gandhian nonviolence to the American scene. Members of the Fellowship founded the Congress of Racial Equality in Chicago in 1942 and developed methods of nonviolent direct action that were adopted by advocates for racial equality during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.