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Price Says Doves Have No Reason Not to Serve

By Robert J. Samuelson

The Rev. Charles P. Price '41, the University Preacher, delivered his first full-length sermon on the Vietnamese War yesterday and said that opposition to American involvement was not sufficient reason to refuse military service.

"I have a lot of sympathy with nen whose consciences will not allow them to go. But to be quite honest, I can't raise my conscience to that pitch of sensitivity. I believe that the state has a right to ask military service of its citizens," he said at the weekly Memorial Church service.

He devoted half his sermon to a general discussion -- and condemnation -- of the Administration's exercise of power at home and abroad. On Vietnam, he concluded: "The bombing of the north [is] fruitless [and] the continued escalation of the war disastrous."

Owe Allegiance

But he argued simultaneously that now men, except pacifists, still owe allegiance to the decisions of their government. "There have been times before and I venture to think there will be times again when a Christian in good conscience cannot be a good citizen, and must withdraw from the state. I simply cannot bring myself to think that this is our situation today."

Price conceded from the outset that his two major points -- moral opposition to the war, and obligation to serve -- "are not easily reconcilable."

"I ask myself about this inconsistency a good deal," he said. "The best comment I can come up with has to do with the good in human life which the state represents.

"It is the source of what justice and order there is; it is the source of the organization which makes economic life and the division of labor possible; it promises a kind of freedom in community which has unlocked much human creativity in the past, and I pray will do so in the future."

Price discussed and rejected the idea of extending conscientious objection to individual wars. "If you believe that some wars are necessary and justified -- wars to stop aggression, for example -- but that this particular war is a mistake of such an order that you cannot in good conscience fight in it, your decision is not a question of principle but of interpretation.

"Once the state has made by some orderly process a contrary decision to fight, then the integrity of the democratic process depends on our rallying behind that process even if we don't like it."

Price found it "utterly inconsistent on the one hand to expect southern whites to obey anti-segregation laws despite strong feelings supported by Biblical texts, and to expect on the other hand exemption from the law for the sake of our conscience in this war."

"Of course, if your conscience won't let you go to war, you must obey it," he said. "You must refuse the draft, and take your chances on court -- where we may expect the judgment to be an understanding one."

"But I cannot for the life of me see how a government can pursue this war as if it were justified and at the same time let some persons escape the burden of military service because they believe it is not justified -- not on the principle, but because of an alternative interpretation of the same set of facts on which the government has had to come to its decision.

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