Don Morris Responds to Mennonite World Review Article
October 17, 2019
In response to a misrepresentation presented in a recent article in the Mennonite World Review (MWR), Consultation offers peace-church voice on military service, (October 14, 2019), I’d like to correct the narrative.
In the article I was quoted as saying, “We do still strongly push and desire peacemaking as a sentimental part of who we are as a denomination or conference of churches — peacemaking in all aspects of life.” I would not have meant that and I don’t think I said that. What I said, or at least certainly intended to say, was “We do still strongly push and desire peacemaking as a significant part of who we are as a denomination…” That’s a huge difference and it is the way I consistently think and promote our collective MB focus on peacemaking. I’m truly disappointed that this was misconstrued.
Another quote in the article was, “we don’t want to offend those who might have a different position.” While I said that, it was a quote taken out of the context of a 10-minute interview and made it appear that we don’t also recognize those in our MB family who hold to a strong peace position. That inference is just not true. The main reason we chose not to sign the letter was so that we could incorporate the entirety of our confession of faith on the issue in what was written, in other words so that all of our constituency is considered. The letter to be written will champion the ideals of those in our midst who hold to our traditional peace position. I am saddened MWR elected to focus on the wording they used in the article as it does not reflect the full dialogue or intent of the interview. Our leadership board executive committee determined that we could better articulate our USMB expression and messaging to the federal commission reviewing the Selective Service System on our own. It’s not to say we refused to chime in on this important issue as a conference of churches.
In my experience, collective letters don’t always articulate completely the message we want to send. The USMB leadership board will review a draft letter to the federal commission at our board meeting this November 8-9 in Omaha.
Also, our intent IS to ask for alternative means of service. Not signing the collective letter did not mean that this specific provision isn’t important for MB’s—it most certainly is, and many MB’s will elect to serve in alternative service if provided.
Folks, this is the tough part of being interviewed and then portrayed in a certain way. It doesn’t always come out as intended. I know some in our MB family are concerned about what was mentioned about MB’s in the article, so I wanted to set the record straight. Although I’m certainly not attempting to bash MWR in this response, I am truly disappointed that I wasn’t provided the opportunity to review and provide clarity for the noted misrepresentations.
If you have more questions about this, please communicate with me directly. I’d appreciate it.
Don Morris, USMB national director
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