In "Resistance and Transformation," a Tapestry of Faith program
On October 16, 1967, Arlington Street Church held a public, interfaith worship service, during which over 300 draft cards were collected, in direct violation of federal law. Some young men chose to burn their cards during the service, but most of the cards were bundled and dropped off in Washington, D.C., as part of a nationwide draft resistance movement. Michael Ferber, a lifelong Unitarian and a graduate student at Harvard at the time, was indicted for conspiracy to resist the draft along with four others. The subsequent trial of Ferber, along with pediatrician Benjamin Spock and William Sloane Coffin, Jr., was one of the notable events in Vietnam War draft resistance. All were convicted, but the conviction was overturned on appeal a year later.
Introduce the story:
The Rev. Dr. Jack Mendelsohn, minister at Arlington Street Church at that time, preached a sermon the following week addressing what had happened at the October 16 interfaith worship service. This is an abridged version of the sermon.
Read the story.
Engage a discussion of the Mendelsohn sermon. Some questions to consider include:
Distribute Handout 1, The Church and the Draft Resisters — Full Text for participants to take home.
Be aware of personal experiences participants may have revealed during the opening activity. If any participants were subject to the draft or fought in the war, or their parents, siblings, or other family members were directly involved, they may voice very strong opinions. Others, perhaps those who are too young to have first-hand knowledge of the Vietnam era, may hesitate to speak up. Be intentional about inviting all to join the conversation. Also, be sure to respect the boundaries of any participants who may have first-hand experience they do not wish to share.
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Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.
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