Next year, Shawn Francis Peters will publish The Catonsville Nine: A Story of Faith and Resistance in the Vietnam Era (Oxford 2012). The book chronicles the events surrounding a group of Catholic antiwar activists’—men and women, including Catholic priests—storming a Baltimore draft board and burning hundreds of selective service records in May, 1968. These so-called “Catonsville Nine” were tried in federal court, receiving sentences of two- to three-years’ imprisonment for their actions.
Shawn Francis Peters has also studied the persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Judging Jehovah’s Witnesses: Religious Persecution and the Dawn of the Rights Revolution (Univ. Press of Kansas 2000), which details the persecution by the United States’ government, and American citizens generally, of Jehovah’s Witnesses in the U.S. who refused to participate in World War II. (Tellingly, the Nazis imprisoned 8000 Jehovah’s Witnesses and interned 2000 in concentration camps—where some 950 died—for their refusal to conform to the demands of the Third Reich. See Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power 254–56 (2005). Rudolf Hoess describes, with a disturbing mixture of admiration and disdain, the “fanatical” Jehovah’s Witnesses at Sachsenhausen in his memoir, Commandant of Auschwitz 88–91 (Constantine FitzGibbon trans., Phoenix 2000).)
For any male of my generation, whose eighteenth birthday was also marked by receiving his Selective Service registration card and a Gillette Mach III razor (replete with shaving gel) the book should provide an interesting perspective on religious protest against unjust war. The publisher’s abstract follows the jump.