Preachers Present Arms is the result of many years of research in libraries, religious periodicals (including many obscure ones), newspaper clippings, innumerable pamphlets, sermons, and addresses of the war periods. Pertinent books on the subject run into the hundreds of volumes. Many of the startling facts in Preachers Present Arms are the result of personal interviews and correspondence both at home and abroad.
Over the span of nearly two thousand years, the institution of the Christian church has been eager to convert the whole world to its own interpretation of the will of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ. In so doing it has been confronted with one crisis after another. Most of the time, as the pages of history will testify, it has floundered in utmost confusion. From one point of view, its gravest and most tragic years have been those in which this church identified itself and participated gladly in some of the bloodiest wars of all times, all to carry out the will of the Almighty. The Crusades and Holy Wars of the past are stark reminders. Yet, even in our own time these holy wars continue.
This book is the startling and terrifying story of the part played in this country by the churches and the clergy during the first World War-the consciences of ministers conscripted, innocent men railroaded to prison, churches turned into recruiting stations.
In Preachers Present Arms a skilled analyst of social forces examines the merciless regimentation of ideas and conduct inherent in modern warfare. His sobering account of the surrender of the ministers to war hysteria in that dark period of the world's history-from 1914 to 1918-is in no sense an attack upon the clergy. Rather, in demonstrating how preachers were caught in the vortex of war madness, the book transcends the immediate field of its inquiry and demonstrates the influence of war psychology on the leaders and molders of public opinion.
Included in this thought-provoking volume is a brief description of the churches and the clergy in World War II, and an analysis of the situation with respect to organized religion and our participation in the war in Vietnam.