A Book Review

Bible Student Conscientious Objectors
in World War 1 – Britain
by Gary Perkins 2016

287 Pages including 6 Appendixes

ISBN‑13: 978‑1517339364
ISBN‑10: 1517339367

The author seeks to elaborate on World War One conscientious objecting with the specific part International Bible Students Association (IBSA) Conscientious Objectors (C.O.) played and whose story has been overlooked by previous books. In addition he aims to recognise the role of those in Parliament and in other places who assisted them even when they did not agree with their stand. Therefore several people are named and details given on what was said and done in the tribunals, the sentences they were given at those tribunals, the categorisation of C.O. and the punishments meted out. There are accounts of how they were treated in France and in the work centres and how they bore those penalties following through right to the end of World War One and the months immediately after.

The scene is set with the early days of Charles Russell and the IBSA in Britain in the short time before the outbreak of the Great War. The book clearly brings out the subtle differences in the mindsets of the Bible Students then to other C.Os, with Bible verses, quotes from those C.Os and other documentary evidence. There are many details that are informative and the surprising number of categories of such men that they were placed into. But they were not alone as there were many other Christian groups who were placed with them such as the Plymouth Brethren, Christadelphians, British Israelites, Swedenborgians and Seventh Day Adventists among other individual Christians.

For readers of the Bible Study Monthly its notable for having a quote from Albert Hudson who was editor of this magazine for decades and there are several names who are mentioned in his book ‘Bible Students in Britain.’ Many names are familiar to those with a background in the Bible Student movement whose parents and spiritual family have talked about over the last decades.

Its an engaging and interesting read especially for those who like reading history and have an interest in the subject matter of pacifism. Some may just enjoy the many details and appendixes. One is drawn into the sufferings of those C.Os, a suffering more than I had been expecting and feel sympathetic toward them for events that only happened about 100 years ago. In the light of the recent marking 75 years since VE and VJ Day it is timely.

The book is easily available for purchase online in the usual places.