The Amish Will Not Buy Bonds
Give Liberally to the Red Cross
Morgantown Bishop Believes in Relieving Suffering, but Not to Inflict It.
Breaking his silence, as far as newspaper interviews are concerned. Bishop John S. Mast, of the Amish Church, living near Morgantown, has outlined his position and that of his church on the question of Liberty Loans and war bonds of all kinds. The Amishman in good standing in the church will not buy, according to inferences from his statements, no matter how poor his standing may be as a loyal supporter of the flag under which he lives. The Amishman may invest his money in Red Cross contributions, or in enterprises that pay dividends, but he will not put it into government war bonds.
Although declaring that “we cannot be too thankful for the government under which we live,” Bishop Mast said that his people would deem it a violation of their religious principles to buy Liberty Bonds or war savings stamps. The Amish, he said, would pay money into a fund for improvements such as the building and repair of roads instead of contributing to a fund that is used for the slaughter of human beings. This plan, he added, had been approved recently by the government.
Breaks a Long Silence.
The bishop broke a long silence on the matter when approached by a Philadelphia Press reporter. Public demonstrations of disapproval of the war attitude of the Amish have occurred recently. A large American flag was placed at the bishop’s gate post, and the door of one of the largest churches of the sect in that part of the country was draped with a flag. They have not been removed. Indications of public condemnation, Bishop Mast said, convinced him that the attitude of the church should be made public.
“Our people have contributed generously to the Red Cross fund and other organizations of mercy,” he said. “We are willing to do what we can to relieve suffering, but are not willing to inflict suffering. Our opposition to war and militarism is not founded upon cowardice or disloyalty to our government. The government has protected us in our belief and we are filled with gratitude toward it, but our conviction is founded on our belief that the Gospel of Christ is a gospel of peace. The nonresistant principles held by this religious body are founded on the teachings of the Scriptures and are set forth in their confession of faith adopted at Dortnecht, Holland, in .
Can Support Red Cross.
“It has always been an essential principle in our creed. First we owe our allegiance to God, second we owe our allegiance to our government. That does not mean that we have no obligations to the government to bear an increased burden because of the world’s greatest suffering brought on by war in addition to Red Cross subscriptions. We can with a clear conscience subscribe freely to bonds that are intended to finance reconstruction and local improvements.”
The Amish Mennonite Church, Bishop Mast said, soon would agree to the proposition of the government made through W.L. Crooks, of the Federal Reserve Bank, in Cleveland, that the non-resisters subscribed for reconstruction and improvements. He was emphatic in his condemnation of non-resisters who attempted to influence others to evade military service.
Long Terms in Prison.
Speaking of the Mennonite young men just sentenced to Leavenworth Penitentiary because of their refusal to put on the soldiers’ uniform, the bishop expressed his faith in the government’s fair dealing.
Bishop Mast is one of the most influential men of the church. His jurisdiction extends as far south as Norfolk, Va.
In spite of threats, Dr. [Elizabeth] Knight and the other Headquarters members who have resisted the Insurance taxation remain at large. Dr. Knight’s sentence of one month still hangs over her head; but no action has yet been taken against Headquarters.
Mrs. [Emma] Sproson has renewed the fight in her own part of the world, and is now challenging the Inland Revenue to make good their claim to tax her small holding at Wolverhampton. It is possible that the authorities may hold her husband responsible; but this is a point that remains to be settled. Meanwhile, it is a matter for great satisfaction to have Mrs. Sproson back again in the active fighting lines.