ANNUAL MEETING OF SHAREHOLDERS Edit
REGARDING MILITARY EXEMPTION
Quite a number of our brethren in different parts of the country have been denied military exemption. Some of them, because of their refusal to engage in military service, have been court-martialed and sentenced to long terms in prison, while others are held in detention camps in different parts of the country. Those attending the convention felt it incumbent upon them to express their love and sympathy in support of these dear brethren who are so loyally standing for the principles represented by our Association; and it was deemed proper to pass a resolution relating to the matter.  A committee previously appointed for that purpose reported a resolution on Sunday morning; which was read before the convention and, upon motion, was seconded and unanimously adopted. The resolution follows:
"WHEREAS, under the terms of the Selective Draft Act a number of our members and brethren have been called to military duty, and under the terms and provisions of said Selective Draft Act have made application to the proper authorities for discharge or exemption from military service, which right or privilege has been denied many of them, and they have been and are now forcibly restrained of their liberty in either military prisons or army detention camps;
"AND WHEREAS, we believe our position as a religious organization, which has been organized and existing for many years prior to the passage of said Act, is not fully understood by various officers and representatives of the United States Government, and that it is due and proper that we should make a statement as to the position of this religious organization that the attitude of our said members and brethren may be better understood;
"NOW THEREFORE RESOLVED: By the members of the INTERNATIONAL BIBLE STUDENTS ASSOCIATION in annual convention assembled at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, composed of delegates representing our Association from all of the United States and Canada, that we make the following statement of our said Association or organization concerning our attitude and the attitude of our members toward the present great war:
"FIRST. That we recognize in President Wilson a great man who is using his power and influence honestly and conscientiously and according to his best judgment in the interests of the peoples of the world and particularly of the United States.
"SECOND. That we recognize the duty of every one living within the realms of the United States to be law-abiding; that the Congress of the United States, representing the people of the nation, placed a provision in the Selective Act that no person should be compelled to engage in military service who is a member of a well-organized religious organization or association whose teachings or principles forbid its members to engage in war, or who are against war in any form; that in taking the position they do, our members are claiming only the protection the law provides against violation of conscience.
"THIRD. That we are followers of the Great Master Christ Jesus our Redeemer, and have covenanted with the Lord to do his will; and that we are certain that it is not his will that we, as his followers, should participate in the great war now upon the earth. We recognize in the present great war one that is different from any other war ever before known, to wit: That it marks the end of the world that is to say, the end of the present evil order of things and is purging the nations and preparing the way for the kingdom of God for which followers of the Great Master, Christ Jesus, have prayed for many centuries; and that for forty years past this Association has held and taught that the year 1914 would mark the beginning of this great international conflict which the prophets of the Lord foretold must take place, immediately preceding the establishment of the everlasting kingdom of righteousness.
"We agree with President Wilson that there can be no lasting peace while the present unrighteous systems exist.
"FOURTH. We hold that the teachings of Jesus and the apostles forbid all his true followers to engage in mortal combat or war; that early in the Christian era this teaching was departed from by those claiming to be his followers and that for many centuries past the clergy of both Catholic and Protestant church systems have departed from the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, substituting therefor man-made doctrines, and have taught the divine right of kings to rule and that the kingdoms of this earth constitute the kingdom of the Lord, and have mixed the religion of Jesus Christ with the politics of the world, which has resulted in confusion amongst Christian peoples, and which the Lord denounces as Babylon and as an abomination in his sight; that the Lord through many of his holy prophets foretold that such an alliance would result between civil and ecclesiastical powers on earth which would bring upon both the indignation of God, causing wars, revolutions and anarchy, which would be overruled by him for the purging of the nations of the earth to the end that he might establish amongst the people a pure and righteous government.
"FIFTH. With charity to all and malice toward none, we feel it our duty humbly to call attention to the fact that the nations are now passing through that great crisis foretold by the prophets of the Lord, and that God is expressing his displeasure toward the relationship existing between ecclesiastical and civil kingdoms of the earth, particularly as set forth in the following cited Scriptures, to wit: Revelation, chapters 17 and 18; Ezekiel, chapter 34.
"SIXTH. That sincerely believing such to be true, a participation by our members in this war would be contrary to the Lord's will and a violation of our own conscience which would put in jeopardy our eternal destiny and welfare. While we hold that it is the privilege of any and all persons to engage in war who desire to do so if they are not followers of Jesus Christ, yet we hold that they who do follow faithfully in his footsteps cannot consistently participate in war in any form; and we have so held for more that thirty years. "SEVENTH.
e, therefore, enter our solemn protest against the incarceration of our brethren and members in prison because of the refusal on their part to violate their conscience and to violate the law of God; that we respectfully call upon the officials of the Government of the United States to recognize that the members of our Association come clearly within the purvue and terms of the exemption clause of the Selective Draft Act because of the teachings and principles of this religious Association which principles and teachings have been held and taught by it and its members for more than a quarter of a century; and that we respectfully petition and ask that our said brethren and members, to wit:
Herm. Abraham, Holyoke, Mass.
Joy Ferguson, Camp Upton
and others, be fully granted the provisions of the exemption clause of the Selective Draft Act, as provided by Congress. "That a copy of this Resolution be furnished to the President of the United States, to the Secretary of the War Department and the Provost Marshal General Crowder; and that the President of our Association appoint a committee of three to so present these resolutions."
PRESENTED TO PRESIDENT WILSON
Brother Rutherford as president thereupon appointed Brother Dr. Smith of Louisville, Ky., Brother E. D. Sexton, of Los Angeles, California, and Brother E. W. Brenneisen, of New York City, as a committee of three to bear these resolutions to Washington and there in person present them to President Wilson, Secretary Baker of the War Department, and a copy to Provost Marshal General Crowder. The Committee proceeded to Washington for this purpose, and on Friday, January 11th, they were granted an audience with President Wilson. The Committee was very kindly and graciously received by the President who patiently listened to the reading of the resolution. The President expressed himself as fully sympathizing with our position. He suggested that some had exceeded their authority in dealing with our brethren and promised that these mistakes should be speedily rectified. Afterwards a copy of the resolution was presented to Secretary of War Baker and Provost Marshal Crowder.
What effect this resolution may have we cannot of course know, but it is our hope that much good may result. While our brethren are refusing to render military service they are not doing so because of any desire to be against the Government but because they are conscientious and believe that for them to engage in this great war would be to forfeit their share in the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Having made a consecration to be dead with Christ, all such count not the present life dear unto themselves. They desire above all things to be pleasing to the heavenly Father and to do his will completely.
For the encouragement of our dear brethren in bonds we remind them of the great afflictions endured by the faithful ones of the past as recorded by the Apostle Paul in Hebrews 11. Those men proved their loyalty and faithfulness to God, and because thereof they will have a better resurrection than the world in general. Now some of his dear children are having the privilege of proving their loyalty under somewhat similar circumstances, and if faithful, will have the privilege, together with the King of kings and Lord of lords, of reconstructing the world of mankind which is now engaged in the destruction of each other.  What a blessed privilege that will be!