Surprisingly, included among the Camden 28 were four Catholic priests and one Lutheran minister. All but one of the remaining 23 were Catholic laypeople. All were part of a nonviolent antiwar movement the government and the media referred to as the “Catholic Left.” One of the most dramatic tactics utilized by this movement was breaking into Selective Service offices across the country to remove and destroy government draft records that identified young men available for military service. The activists claimed that their civil disobedience was meant to call attention to their belief that killing – even in war – was morally indefensible. They targeted the draft for the simple fact that it was the clearest symbol of that immorality because it compelled citizens to kill. Between 1967 and 1971, members of the “Catholic Left” claimed responsibility for over 30 draft board raids and the destruction of close to a million Selective Service documents. By 1971, the “Catholic Left” had become one of the most inventive forces of the antiwar movement.
I have often wondered, "Where is the similar peace movement today?", but then I realize that there is no draft, and while in Viet Nam over 58,000 American soldiers in my generation were killed, in the current Iraq war only 2,600 American soldiers have been killed. However, it is notable that there was a Catholic social justice movement lead by clergy like the Berrigan brothers and protestant clergy like William Sloan Coffin.
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