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N November, 1917, the National Committee on
the Churches and the Moral Aims of the War
was organized for the purpose of keeping before the people of the United States the lofty and disinterested character of the aims of the great struggle, so far as our nation was concerned, and especially to create an overwhelming resolution in the hearts of our people to insist that out of this war must come some new international order that shall make such wars as this in which the world is engaged improbable, if not impossible, forever. It was decided that conferences with groups of clergymen and other Christian workers should be held throughout the country, and that the various programmes of this new world order, now everywhere engaging the minds of statesmen and scholars, with chief emphasis upon a League of Nations, should be laid before these groups. Especially was it agreed upon that the aims of this war as expressed in the messages and addresses of the President of the United States should be laid before the people, for they mark a new departure in the history of the world. They
are not only moral in their character-they are Christian.
This little book contains editorials written and addresses delivered by myself and others in connection with these meetings, with an appendix containing valuable lists of utterances by President Wilson and others on a League of Nations and the moral aims of the war. I think the extracts from President Wilson's addresses and messages cover nearly all he has said on these particular subjects. When brought together as here they reveal a new epoch in history. It is the first time the head of a great nation has ever said such things. The President of the United States is demanding of the nations the same standard of conduct as that which prevails among all Christian gentlemen.
These various chapters are brought together here especially for the sake of the many clergymen and other Christian workers who are becoming interested in establishing the new world order. It seemed better to print the editorials as originally written and this accounts for some repetition.
THE MORAL AIMS OF THE WAR
E have just been re-reading the various addresses of the President of the United
States delivered to Congress and to other audiences since the entrance of the United States into the war. Again we have been impressed with the remarkable fact that in every utterance the moral aims of the war are those which receive chief and almost only emphasis. It is a new thing in history, with one exception, England's declaration of war to uphold the rights of Belgium. There have been innumerable declarations of war and statements of war aims by rulers which dwell upon the vindication of national honour, the preservation of the rights of the nation entering upon the war, the protection of property, the preservation of the lives of citizens, and national defence, but no others which put the service of humanity first, regardless of the gain to the nation itself. To quote from President Wilson's address of November 5, 1916: "Why, my fellow citizens, it is an unprecedented thing in the world that any nation in determining its foreign relations should be unselfish, and my ambition is to see America set the great example."
The United States lost millions of dollars worth of property and hundreds of lives through the ruthless acts of submarines. As the war progressed the country faced endless complications in the future, should Germany triumph. Evil machinations were going on inside our nation itself, and the nation was being used as a tool against the Allies. It would have been perfectly natural for the United States to have gone to war because of all these attacks and of the innumerable violations of her honour. But when at last the President declared war it was not these things he emphasized, and he was meticulously careful to say it was not for gain of territory or for revenge. In every utterance it was moral, ethical, religious aims that were emphasized. This marks a new era in history. It was one of the great steps forward in civilization, when civilization seemed tottering to the ground.
Five aims are mentioned again and again in these addresses. It is well that we should dwell upon these five aims, for they are all moral, religious aims.
1. In almost every address Mr. Wilson says we have entered upon this war to secure democracy for the whole world. "The world must be made safe for democracy." But democracy is a religious thing. It came straight from Jesus Christ. It is born out of the sense of the worth of every human soul as a child of God. It is a corollary of that truth forever on the lips of Jesus, the Fatherhood of God.
Christianity began as a democracy of equal souls in the kingdom of God. And in democracy lies the peace of the world. It is not-it never has beendemocracies that originate wars of aggrandizement or of dominion. Mr. Wilson has seen this: "Great democracies are not belligerent. They do not seek or desire war. Their thought is of individual liberty and of the free labour that supports life and the uncensored thought that quickens it." World democracy means world peace, thinks the President, and therefore he puts it as one of the chief aims of this war. But again, democracy is a moral aim. And the desire to win it for the whole world is an act of service, which is a Christian act.
2. We have entered upon this war, says the President, to secure "the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own government.” Here again we have a moral aim. We are fighting not for territory, not for revenge, but to insure for other peoples than ourselves the right to say what course their nation shall pursue in the common life of the world. The President assumes, and, we believe rightly, that were it left to the people of any nation to determine the nation's policy, they would not vote for aggrandizement, for expansion at the cost of war, or for the despoliation of other peoples.
3. "We shall fight . . . for the rights and liberties of small nations," says Mr. Wilson in his address of April 2, 1917. And he has said it many times. Here again the United States has set before