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The Role of Church Groups in the Vietnam War Campaign

Quakers, Catholic groupings, the Uniting Church, Anglican groups, the Unitarians, the Australian Jewish Peace Movement, and some Buddhists groups, were all prominent in the Moratorium and wider antiwar movements, some at great personal cost.

The Principal of the Sydney’s Methodist Newington College, Rev. Douglas Trathen, encouraged young men “in loyalty to God rather than Caesar, to defy the National Service Act”,[31] was forced to resign for his stand, prosecuted and convicted for incitement, and placed on a good behaviour bond.

A group of 23 Catholic Priests wrote in May 1972 to the Attorney General to affirm draft resisters’ “moral courage” and “their refusal to obey an unjust law”, saying their stand has “the support of the Catholic tradition”.[32]

An Anglican minister, Rev. Malcolm Bell, poured blood over the Brisbane Stock Exchange blackboards in May 1972, saying this was done “in identification with Jesus and his act in the temple of Jerusalem” and was done to show “solidarity with the Vietnamese people”. Malcolm Bell was suspended by the Archbishop of Brisbane.

In Melbourne, a Church of Christ minister, John Lloyd, was one of the main organizers of the Melbourne Moratoriums, and Catholic activists, such as  Val and Mary Noone and John Ryan, the Unitarian Church’s Victor James, and the Presbyterian Church’s Minister for Strategy and Action, Rev Dick Wootton, were all prominent in antiwar and anticonscription campaigning.

MHG