Conscientious Objectors Songs of Praise


Conscientious Objectors

Pam Rhodes is in York, discovering how the Rowntree family supported wartime Quakers facing imprisonment as conscientious objectors.


Similar Content

Browse content similar to Conscientious Objectors. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!

Transcript


LineFromTo

A century ago, the nation was two years into the First World War

0:00:020:00:06

but not everyone followed the call to fight.

0:00:060:00:10

This week, I'll be hearing from those compelled by their faith

0:00:100:00:13

to risk reputation and face ridicule as conscientious objectors.

0:00:130:00:18

Also, daring to be different - the college chaplain spreading

0:00:180:00:21

the word with Christian tattoos.

0:00:210:00:24

A good by-product of being tattooed is that it creates a conversation.

0:00:240:00:29

And I'm turning detective, discovering words from

0:00:290:00:31

the King James Bible found in famous reggae songs.

0:00:310:00:35

I'm in the city of York,

0:00:440:00:45

not at the Minster but at the former Rowntree chocolate factory

0:00:450:00:50

which, for generations, had faith right at its heart because of

0:00:500:00:54

the Quaker beliefs of its founder.

0:00:540:00:57

And right at the heart of the Christian faith is Christ himself,

0:00:570:01:01

and that's the focus of our first song today.

0:01:010:01:03

In two world wars,

0:03:510:03:52

Quakers faced an ethical dilemma - whether to follow the call to fight,

0:03:520:03:57

knowing that that might mean that they would kill for their country,

0:03:570:04:00

or to make the controversial decision

0:04:000:04:02

to be conscientious objectors.

0:04:020:04:04

That decision was passionately supported here at

0:04:050:04:08

the Rowntree factory in York,

0:04:080:04:10

famous for its chocolate but driven by Quaker beliefs.

0:04:100:04:14

Local MP Arnold Rowntree fought for changes to the Military Service Act,

0:04:150:04:20

giving Quakers the chance to serve their country without fighting.

0:04:200:04:25

Significant parts of the factory were given over to help

0:04:260:04:29

the war effort.

0:04:290:04:31

In fact, this building, that used to be the Rowntree staff canteen,

0:04:310:04:35

was turned into a hospital to treat the wounded.

0:04:350:04:38

Chris Lawson's grandfather worked for Arnold Rowntree,

0:04:400:04:43

and Chris is also a Quaker and a pacifist.

0:04:430:04:47

A good many Quakers would take the attitude that,

0:04:470:04:49

if they were going to be followers of Christ, you cannot resort

0:04:490:04:54

to the use of force and, particularly, fighting wars.

0:04:540:04:58

And that is a witness that Quakers have held from the middle of

0:04:580:05:01

the 17th century.

0:05:010:05:03

But that would have led to accusations of cowardice and

0:05:030:05:07

-much more, I imagine.

-Yes.

0:05:070:05:09

There was immense social disapproval but,

0:05:090:05:13

at the beginning of the war, Arnold Rowntree was one of those who helped

0:05:130:05:17

to set up a service unit for young Quakers called

0:05:170:05:21

the Friends' Ambulance Unit and, in time, my father,

0:05:210:05:25

my uncle and I myself all became members of the FAU.

0:05:250:05:29

It, early on, sent out a team to France and they found

0:05:310:05:34

the first need was to help with soldiers being evacuated from

0:05:340:05:39

the front who were just lying in sheds.

0:05:390:05:41

And there were FAU people who were helping on ambulance trains.

0:05:410:05:46

My father was one of those.

0:05:460:05:47

-You are still a Quaker.

-Yes.

0:05:490:05:51

If war was declared tomorrow and you were called up,

0:05:510:05:53

what would be your reaction?

0:05:530:05:55

I shall want to be a conscientious objector again.

0:05:550:05:59

Christ's form of service was a non-violent approach to

0:05:590:06:03

other people.

0:06:030:06:04

The University of York is home to some rare Rowntree archives,

0:06:050:06:10

and Chris has come to see it for the very first time.

0:06:100:06:13

-Hello, Alex.

-Hello. Hello.

-What have we got here?

0:06:130:06:16

Well, here we have some wonderful records relating to the work

0:06:160:06:19

of Arnold Rowntree.

0:06:190:06:21

Ah, this is so interesting to see Arnold Rowntree's name there and

0:06:210:06:24

the names of various other Quakers, some of whom I've actually met.

0:06:240:06:27

So here, we can see the Friends' Service Committee in 1915.

0:06:270:06:31

They say, "We see the sacrifices men around us have made,

0:06:310:06:35

"and are daily making, and we are conscious that many of us,

0:06:350:06:38

"for whom loyalty to Christ forbids military service,

0:06:380:06:41

"are giving far less to our country than those who have enlisted."

0:06:410:06:44

So they do want to serve but they don't want to bear arms.

0:06:440:06:48

And some of them feel that they really can do good and they're willing to die for their country,

0:06:480:06:52

they're just not willing to kill others.

0:06:520:06:54

That's very much the central feeling of the Quakers - loyalty to

0:06:540:06:58

Christ forbids military service. It's a religious conviction.

0:06:580:07:02

It's not a political one or a pragmatic one.

0:07:020:07:04

It's based on a deep spiritual conviction.

0:07:040:07:06

That hymn is a prayer for fresh inspiration to follow the call

0:09:130:09:18

of God and, later,

0:09:180:09:19

we'll be hearing from a 92-year-old Quaker who's done just that.

0:09:190:09:25

For some, a Christian calling means doing things differently,

0:09:250:09:28

and what could be more different than a chaplain covered in tattoos?

0:09:280:09:32

32-year-old Rob Popejoy has been the chaplain for four years and

0:09:330:09:38

enjoys challenging the stereotypes of what a Christian can be.

0:09:380:09:42

At first glance,

0:09:430:09:44

you wouldn't think Rob's faith influences the way

0:09:440:09:46

he looks at all but he uses his appearance, through the medium

0:09:460:09:50

of tattoos, to express his beliefs and tell the story of his faith.

0:09:500:09:55

My faith, and also my wife and child,

0:09:570:10:01

is the most important thing to me.

0:10:010:10:03

It's the meaning of most of my tattoos.

0:10:050:10:07

It's the biggest part of my life.

0:10:070:10:10

I've been getting tattooed for ten years and it's become

0:10:100:10:13

the story of my life, really.

0:10:130:10:14

It's kind of how I document the stuff that's gone on,

0:10:140:10:18

the questions I've asked of myself, the various life events.

0:10:180:10:22

Like a diary or a journal, I'm just going to put it on my skin.

0:10:220:10:26

I've got two Bible verses tattooed on my body.

0:10:280:10:32

The first one is EZ 37 on my fingers, and that means

0:10:320:10:37

the Book of Ezekiel, chapter 37.

0:10:370:10:40

And that is a story from the Bible where the prophet sees

0:10:400:10:45

a valley of dry bones.

0:10:450:10:46

God says, "I'll breathe life into those dry bones,"

0:10:470:10:51

and then the prophet sees them waken.

0:10:510:10:54

And that's really poignant for me.

0:10:540:10:57

And that's because, between the ages of 15 and 18, Rob lost his faith.

0:10:570:11:02

And so, I found myself becoming more and more inward, more angry,

0:11:020:11:07

more aggressive, and that sorrow grew and grew and grew to

0:11:070:11:12

the point where I was questioning, is life worth it?

0:11:120:11:15

It was a really dark period of my life.

0:11:150:11:19

Rob turned his life around and rediscovered his faith,

0:11:190:11:22

which inspired his vocation - guiding students at Bath College.

0:11:220:11:27

My name's Rob Popejoy. I'm the chaplain here at the college.

0:11:270:11:31

Do you guys know what a chaplain is?

0:11:310:11:33

I am trying to make Christianity cool and I'm quite happy to say that.

0:11:330:11:36

I'm cool with controversy, obviously.

0:11:360:11:38

By being approachable, hopefully, people can see that there is

0:11:380:11:43

something slightly different, perhaps.

0:11:430:11:45

He's quite a cool person, isn't he? He's, like, full of surprises.

0:11:450:11:49

HE LAUGHS

0:11:490:11:50

I think he's kind of a breath of fresh air.

0:11:500:11:52

He's young and kind of knows what the young people think.

0:11:520:11:58

Obviously, he's different from what you consider a normal chaplain.

0:11:580:12:02

I'm a Star Wars fan, in case you hadn't worked out.

0:12:020:12:04

-Anyone a Star Wars fan in the room?

-Yeah.

0:12:040:12:07

He's quite unique cos, from my perspective,

0:12:070:12:10

you never really see a Christian just covered in tattoos.

0:12:100:12:13

It's not what you see.

0:12:130:12:15

Whilst tattoos can alienate people, the positives I've found,

0:12:150:12:19

you know, a good by-product of having them is people want to

0:12:190:12:22

talk to you, people want to find out the meanings.

0:12:220:12:25

You attract people as a result of having them.

0:12:250:12:27

It creates a conversation.

0:12:270:12:29

What are those on your fingers? What do they mean?

0:12:290:12:32

Personally, for me, I mean, I don't believe in any religion but

0:12:320:12:36

when he speaks about it and then he really gets into detail of

0:12:360:12:39

what's gone on, and then you start to think, well,

0:12:390:12:42

that is quite interesting, actually.

0:12:420:12:44

I don't have any grades or anything like that or, you know,

0:12:440:12:48

qualifications so, literally,

0:12:480:12:50

all I have is who I am and what I've done and my experiences.

0:12:500:12:54

And if that can be used for good, then great.

0:12:540:12:56

Next, David is in Wrexham for a discovery of biblical proportions.

0:16:060:16:11

I'm here at St Giles' Church to meet a man who found some extraordinary treasure.

0:16:130:16:17

Ah! Great to meet you.

0:16:170:16:19

-Really good to see you, David.

-Tell me about this Bible.

-Come with me.

0:16:190:16:23

-So, here we are.

-Wow!

0:16:240:16:27

Stored away for centuries, forgotten amongst a pile of old books,

0:16:270:16:31

unbeknown to everyone, lay something very special.

0:16:310:16:34

'When Jason found it during a routine inventory check,

0:16:360:16:39

-'it piqued his curiosity.'

-So, this is it.

-How heavy is that?

0:16:390:16:42

-It looks huge.

-Yeah, it's quite a weight.

0:16:420:16:45

-You have to be a bodybuilder to carry this!

-Well, you know...

0:16:450:16:49

-Goodness gracious!

-It's quite a size, isn't it?

0:16:520:16:55

-First edition King James Bible.

-Wow!

0:16:550:16:58

How did you feel when you discovered this?

0:16:580:17:01

Really excited, really excited.

0:17:010:17:04

As far as we know, it was bought by the churchwardens brand-new

0:17:040:17:07

in 1611, when it first came out.

0:17:070:17:10

And it's just been here for the whole of this time.

0:17:100:17:14

It's part of the stonework of the place.

0:17:140:17:17

This is the first one I've ever seen and it's amazing.

0:17:170:17:20

It is rather beautiful, isn't it?

0:17:200:17:22

For me, growing up in a Jamaican family, the King James version was

0:17:230:17:27

THE Bible, and its words became part of our everyday language and music.

0:17:270:17:33

I'm going to need a bit of equipment to help me explain more.

0:17:340:17:37

It's here...

0:17:370:17:38

..an authentic Jamaican sound system!

0:17:400:17:44

# Oh, yeah... #

0:17:440:17:45

The King James Bible's importance in the Caribbean goes back to

0:17:450:17:48

the time of slavery.

0:17:480:17:50

Slave owners and missionaries taught the Scriptures and,

0:17:500:17:53

by the time slavery was abolished, most of the Caribbean was Christian.

0:17:530:17:57

Every home had a King James Bible and they read it and understood it.

0:18:000:18:05

And it was that knowledge and understanding of the Bible

0:18:050:18:08

that influenced much of the culture, like this.

0:18:080:18:11

A familiar tune made famous by Boney M but it started out...

0:18:130:18:16

# By the rivers of Babylon... #

0:18:160:18:19

..as a reggae song.

0:18:190:18:20

# Where we sat down... #

0:18:200:18:22

A direct lift from Psalm 137, verses one through to four.

0:18:220:18:27

"By the Rivers of Babylon, there we sat down, yea, we wept,

0:18:270:18:31

"when we remembered Zion."

0:18:310:18:33

# But the wicked Carried us away in captivity... #

0:18:330:18:37

"How the wicked carried us away in captivity, requiring of us a song,

0:18:370:18:42

"but how can we sing the Lord's song in a strange land?"

0:18:420:18:47

And it's easy to understand how,

0:18:470:18:49

to the descendants of Africans who had been captured, transported

0:18:490:18:55

and enslaved, these words were a source of inspiration and comfort.

0:18:550:18:59

# Sing a song of freedom, sister! #

0:18:590:19:03

And we're keeping the reggae theme going with our next performance.

0:19:030:19:07

# Light of the world

0:19:170:19:19

# You stepped down into darkness

0:19:190:19:23

# Opened my eyes, let me see

0:19:230:19:27

# Beauty that made this heart adore you

0:19:290:19:35

# Hope of a life spent with you

0:19:350:19:40

# Here I am to worship

0:19:400:19:43

# Here I am to bow down

0:19:430:19:46

# Here I am to say that you're my God

0:19:460:19:51

# You're altogether lovely

0:19:520:19:55

# Altogether worthy

0:19:550:19:58

# Altogether wonderful to me

0:19:580:20:03

# Oh

0:20:060:20:08

# Yeah

0:20:080:20:09

# King of all days

0:20:090:20:12

# Oh, so highly exalted

0:20:120:20:15

# Glorious in heaven above

0:20:150:20:20

# Humbly you came to the earth you created

0:20:210:20:27

# All for love's sake became poor

0:20:270:20:32

# So here I am to worship

0:20:320:20:35

# Here I am to bow down

0:20:350:20:38

# Here I am to say that you're my God

0:20:380:20:44

# You're altogether lovely

0:20:440:20:47

# Altogether worthy

0:20:470:20:51

# Altogether wonderful to me

0:20:510:20:56

# I'll never know how much it cost

0:20:570:21:04

# To see my sins upon that cross

0:21:040:21:10

# I'll never know how much it cost

0:21:100:21:16

# To see my sins upon that cross

0:21:160:21:23

# So here I am to worship

0:21:240:21:27

# Here I am to bow down

0:21:270:21:30

# Here I am to say that you're my God

0:21:300:21:36

# You're altogether lovely

0:21:360:21:40

# Altogether worthy

0:21:400:21:43

# Altogether wonderful to me

0:21:430:21:49

# So here I am to worship

0:21:490:21:52

# Here I am to bow down

0:21:520:21:55

# Here I am to say that you're my God

0:21:550:22:01

# You're altogether lovely

0:22:010:22:04

# You're altogether worthy

0:22:040:22:07

# You're altogether wonderful to me. #

0:22:070:22:13

Did you notice the hints in that last song

0:22:160:22:19

that the Christmas season is not far away?

0:22:190:22:21

Because that's my cue to tell you about Songs Of Praise's

0:22:210:22:24

very own Christmas cards.

0:22:240:22:26

These are the ten winning designs from our recent competition

0:22:260:22:30

and they are now on sale.

0:22:300:22:32

Proceeds, of course, to BBC Children In Need,

0:22:320:22:34

and you can find out more on our website, which is...

0:22:340:22:37

Now, John Bell of the Iona Community has taken as his theme

0:22:420:22:46

for this next song, Christ's provocative challenge,

0:22:460:22:50

Will You Come And Follow Me?

0:22:500:22:51

ORGAN MUSIC

0:22:510:22:53

I'm a Quaker.

0:25:090:25:10

And Quakers have a history, over 350 years,

0:25:130:25:16

of not wanting to be involved in violence.

0:25:160:25:20

Peter Rutter is 92 and is a conscientious objector.

0:25:200:25:25

I attempt to be a Christian

0:25:260:25:29

and follow Jesus. There are the Ten Commandments.

0:25:290:25:33

I mean, one of them is, "Thou shalt not kill."

0:25:330:25:37

It doesn't say, "Thou shalt not kill if you're not in the army,

0:25:370:25:40

"or if you've got somebody you hate,"

0:25:400:25:42

or something like that. Just, "Thou shalt not kill."

0:25:420:25:46

And Jesus didn't believe in violence to the ultimate extent.

0:25:460:25:51

Imagine not resisting when people are driving six-inch nails

0:25:510:25:55

through your hands to tie you to a cross.

0:25:550:25:58

Though Peter refused to fight in the Second World War,

0:26:010:26:04

he still chose to serve his country on the front line

0:26:040:26:07

and travelled across Europe with the Friends' Ambulance Unit.

0:26:070:26:11

We moved people, we took casualties.

0:26:110:26:15

When we got to Hamburg when the war was officially over,

0:26:150:26:18

I got to a position where we had to try and resuscitate

0:26:180:26:24

quite a large bevy of people who'd been in Auschwitz

0:26:240:26:30

in the most deplorable conditions and, I mean, it...

0:26:300:26:33

Well, I can only say it was a privilege

0:26:350:26:38

to be able to do so, but very harrowing.

0:26:380:26:42

Another man called Arthur Hinton and I,

0:26:440:26:46

I don't know who gave the orders,

0:26:460:26:48

but we were really asked to deal on a one-to-one basis

0:26:480:26:52

with a couple of sisters called the Shaleron sisters from Romania.

0:26:520:26:57

The youngest sister, Jutsi,

0:26:570:27:00

well, I've never seen anyone in such a state as she was.

0:27:000:27:03

I remember thinking, "I don't think she'll survive."

0:27:050:27:08

And I must say,

0:27:100:27:12

it was an extraordinary pleasure

0:27:120:27:14

to see them coming back to life

0:27:140:27:16

over a period of nearly six months

0:27:160:27:19

to the point where they could be repatriated to Romania.

0:27:190:27:23

What can you say? It's a real privilege.

0:27:230:27:25

Yeah.

0:27:260:27:28

I believe in searching one's conscience

0:27:300:27:34

and if you conscientiously believe that you've got to fight,

0:27:340:27:37

well, that's what you've got to do.

0:27:370:27:40

I mean, the acts of bravery that one sees left, right and centre

0:27:400:27:44

in the battlefield is staggering

0:27:440:27:47

and I have the utmost respect for them and also, it's a terrible loss

0:27:470:27:51

to lose people like that

0:27:510:27:53

and to feel that you've got to lose people like that.

0:27:530:27:56

What I'm saying is that the world doesn't have to be like that.

0:27:560:28:01

Swimming against the tide isn't easy.

0:28:010:28:04

If people were following Christ,

0:28:040:28:08

these situations wouldn't arise.

0:28:080:28:10

Well, we're almost at the end of this week's programme,

0:30:330:30:36

but next week David Grant will be at The Big Sing

0:30:360:30:38

at the Royal Albert Hall, introducing Michael Ball, Alfie Boe,

0:30:380:30:42

Keith and Kristyn Getty and The Priests, so it's quite a line-up.

0:30:420:30:47

But to end this programme,

0:30:470:30:49

here's a song that focuses on the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

0:30:490:30:53

Pam Rhodes is at the former Rowntree's chocolate factory in York, discovering how the Rowntree family supported wartime Quakers facing imprisonment as conscientious objectors.

Music:

To God Be The Glory from Hackney Empire, London Breathe On Me, Breath Of God from Trinity Church, Gosforth Mighty To Save from The Salvation Army, Sale Here I Am To Worship by Joshua Kessler The Summons from Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, Liverpool Oh God, You Search Me And You Know Me from St. Alban's Church, Bristol.


Download Subtitles

SRT

ASS