‘A National Nuisance’: The Banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia in 1941

‘A National Nuisance’: The Banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia in 1941

In 1941, during the Second World War, the Menzies government banned Jehovah’s
Witnesses, giving them the distinction of being the only Christian religious body to be
banned in Australia during the twentieth century.

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One thought on “‘A National Nuisance’: The Banning of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Australia in 1941

  1. John Bartram (@History_Hunters) December 22, 2013 at 8:04 pm Reply

    Conscientious Objectors: I need to make this point as regards the UK: the law has not discriminated against Conscientious Objectors since the Militia Ballot Act of 1757 allowed Quakers to be excluded from military service:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector#United_Kingdom
    In World War II, following the National Service (Armed Forces) Act of 1939, there were nearly 60,000 registered Conscientious Objectors. Testing by Conscientious Objection Tribunals resumed, this time chaired by a judge, but was much less harsh; if you were not a member of the Quakers or some similar pacifist church, it was generally enough to say that you objected to “warfare as a means of settling international disputes,” a phrase from the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928. The tribunals could grant full exemption, exemption conditional on alternative service, exemption only from combatant duties, or dismiss the application. Of the 61,000 only 3,000 were given complete exemption and 18,000 were dismissed as false claimants. Of those directed to non-combatant military service almost 7,000 were allocated to the Non-Combatant Corps, set up in mid-1940; its companies worked in clothing and food stores, in transport, or any military project not requiring the handling of “material of an aggressive nature”. In November 1940 it was decided to allow troops in the NCC to volunteer for work in bomb disposal.[71] In total over 350 volunteered.[71] Other non-combatants worked in the Royal Army Medical Corps. Other acceptable occupations were farm work, mining, firefighting, Ambulance Service. About 5,500 objectors were imprisoned, charged with offences relating to their unrecognised objection. A further 1,000 were court-martialled by the armed forces and sent to military detention barracks or civil prisons. Nevertheless, the social stigma attached to ‘conchies’ (as they were called) was considerable: regardless of the genuineness of their motives, cowardice was often imputed.
    Britain retained conscription, with rights of conscientious objection, as National Service until 1960.

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