Are Mennonites pacifists (What do Mennonites believe about participating in war)?

As a theologian, I have always been interested in understanding how different Christian communities’ beliefs work. The Mennonites have been part of the communities I have always had an interest in, especially their beliefs about pacifism. After my theology course, I relocated to the Democratic Republic of Congo, a place with one of the largest populations of Mennonites. During this time, I had the chance to interact with the group, getting first-hand information about their culture and beliefs. Afterward, I created a Bible study group where we discussed diverse topics about the Bible and different Christian sects. Last week, a member of the group wanted to know the stand of Mennonites regarding pacifism. Since I am well informed about all the cultures and beliefs of Mennonites, I explained to the group members what pacifism is and if the Mennonites are pacifists. So, are Mennonites pacifists? 

Yes, The Mennonites are pacifists. Mennonites’ core values revolve around peacemaking and pacifism. Pacifism among the Mennonites is based on their interpretation of the teachings of Jesus’s sermon on the mountain as recorded in the book of Mathew 5:9. In this verse, Jesus talks about peacemakers. Since Mennonites strictly adhere to the Scriptures, they have embraced a commitment to nonviolence and choose to keep peace.

So, join me as I deeply discuss the Mennonites’ beliefs about participating in the war. I will widely talk about Mennonites’ belief about participating in war if Mennonites did not participate in military service and if they served in World War 2. Are you curious to find out more? Well, let’s dive in together.

What do Mennonites believe about participating in war?

The Mennonites disapprove of participating in war as they believe in the scriptures and follow the teachings of the Bible, based on Mathew 5:9. Mennonites believe peace is the will of God, and therefore, they do not take part in the war. They follow Christ’s teachings about peace, and even when persecuted, they show no resistance. They adhere to the scriptures as it emphasizes living in peace with everyone, as written in Romans 12:18. The Mennonites, therefore, avoid taking part in war or being violent and resistant.

More so, in Colossians 3:15, the Bible talks about letting the peace of Christ rule in our hearts because we were called to peace. The Mennonites live according to this verse by not taking part in war because, according to their beliefs, God does not condone any form of war or violence.

Are Mennonites exempt from military service?

Are Mennonites pacifists?
Are Mennonites exempt from military service? Image source: Pixabay

Most Mennonite groups do not take part in military service. Pacifism is a strong belief among them, and they believe violence is never the answer to the problem at hand. They follow the teachings of Jesus to maintain peace because they believe “peacemakers are the children of God (Mathew 5:9).Therefore, due to their strong belief in pacifism and commitment, Mennonites are often granted exemption from participating in military services because it is part of their religious teachings and practices.

Did Mennonites serve in WW2?

Mennonites served in WW2, but not as front war soldiers; they took part by offering alternative services. Mennonites believe that God does not condone any form of war. Thus, they try as much not to be a part of war. In Ephesians 4:3, the scriptures talk about keeping the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace.

However, in as much as they believe in pacifism, the Mennonites believe in being compliant with the government except when it does contradict the scriptures, which forms a huge part of their teachings and beliefs. Therefore, during times of war, like during World War II, the Mennonites would organize themselves and negotiate with the government to be given other services to perform rather than fighting on the frontlines in war.

This made them known as Conscientious Objectors because their refusal to support the war was based on conviction and values. As a result, during world war two, the majority of the Mennonites served in Civilian public service rather than participating in war; others served in Alternative Service Work Camps.

Do Mennonites Support War?

Are Mennonites pacifists?
Do Mennonites Support War? Image source: Pixabay

No. Mennonites observe strict pacifism. Therefore, they believe in nonviolent activities based on their teachings and beliefs. They believe in maintaining peace, for they follow the example of Christ in their ways of life. They emphasize love, reconciliation, and non-resistance. In Luke 6:27-28, the Bible generally talks about love for the enemies. Therefore, Mennonites emphasize loving each other and promoting peace. They believe in doing so it’s a way of avoiding war among themselves and the surrounding community.

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