Bridgewater College to present symposium on non-violence

bridgewater collegeA symposium exploring “Anabaptist Non-Resistance in the Age of Terror” will be held at Bridgewater College March 16-17. The symposium, which is co-sponsored by the Forum for Brethren Studies and the Kline-Bowman Institute for Creative Peacebuilding, is free and open to the public.

The symposium will explore the role of non-violence­—as viewed by Anabaptists and other faith traditions—in the evolving global society of the 21st century.

“Traditionally, Anabaptists have condemned military action as sin and refused to participate in military activity, including non-combatant roles,” said Dr. Stephen Longenecker, the Edwin L. Turner Distinguished Professor History and organizer of the event. “The symposium will ask whether the changing global landscape has created a situation in which old definitions need to be rewritten.”

A critical question, said Longenecker, is the line between police and military action­—­the former being generally acceptable to Anabaptists and the latter not.

“Is a special forces raid on a group plotting terror a police or military action?” he said. “Similarly, do people of faith endorse armed force to provide security at refugee camps, prevent terrorists from flying airplanes into skyscrapers, subdue pirates, or rescue school girls kidnapped by terrorists, and do they fight shooters in their classroom or workplace?”

These and other complications will be explored in the symposium.

The event will begin in Cole Hall on Thursday at 7:30 p.m., featuring Dr. Andrew Loomis, senior foreign affairs adviser for the Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations at the U.S. Department of State. Loomis is a specialist in violence prevention.

On Friday beginning at 8:30 a.m., speakers include Elizabeth Ferris (refugee security, Georgetown University), Robert Johansen (policing instead of military force; Kroc Center emeritus, Notre Dame), Donald Kraybill (Nickle Mines shooting and non-resistance on the personal level; Young Center emeritus, Elizabethtown College), Musa Mambula, (Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria and Bethany Theological Seminary) and Andy Murray (Baker Institute emeritus, Juniata College).

For information contact Robert Andersen ( and Steve Longenecker (

Bridgewater College is a private, four-year liberal arts college located in the Central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Founded in 1880, it was the state’s first private, coeducational college. Today, Bridgewater College is home to nearly 1,900 undergraduate students.

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