Citizenship for conscientious objectors in the wake of World War I

Published: 10 February 2023

via the Bluffton University (OH) web site

Dr Duane Stoltzfus

Dr Duane Stoltzfus

Dr. Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication at Goshen College, told stories of three conscientious objectors seeking US citizenship.

Exploring Hurdles to Gain Citizenship

In the wake of World War I, the U.S. Bureau of Naturalization inserted a new question into the application for prospective citizens: “If necessary, are you willing to take up arms in defense of country?”

Dr. Duane Stoltzfus, professor of communication at Goshen College, discussed the immediate impact the question had on pacifists during “Love of Country Distilled to a Question: When Pacifism Becomes a Litmus Test for Citizenship.” The Feb. 7 presentation in Yoder Recital Hall served as Bluffton University’s C. Henry Smith Peace Lecture for 2023.

“Well-meaning but overzealous government officials, with WWI on their minds, added a hypothetical question to test the loyalty for incoming foreigners,” explained Stoltzfus. “The question should be recognized as having little value and of flying in the face of the nation’s historical commitment to C.O.s.”

Mennonites, who had previously been welcomed warmly for their farming skills, and other conscientious objectors now faced courtroom battles, judges who had the power to grant or deny citizenship at will, and even the Supreme Court.

Read the entire article on the Bluffton University web site here:

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