A Statement of the Lutheran Church in America, 1966
Adopted by the Third Biennial Convention, Kansas City.
Missouri, June 21-29, 1966.
The deepening crisis in Vietnam is a cause of grave concern
among all men of good will who seek the establishment of peace with
justice and freedom. Especially troubling are the following aspects
of the situation:
- The rapidly mounting number of dead and wounded on both sides
of the conflict;
- The steady escalation of military commitments in Vietnam and,
with it, the increased danger of a full-scale war in Asia;
- The difficulty in achieving conditions which would make
feasible the termination of military action in Vietnam in the near
- The vast destruction of natural and developed resources;
- The tragic diversion of attention and economic support from
the assault upon domestic and world poverty to the growing war
effort in Southeast Asia;
- The turmoil and frustration among the people of South Vietnam
in seeking to establish representative self-government.
Christians cannot be content to remain silent in the crisis of
conscience that confronts them. They must be true to the conviction
which is uniquely their own: that all men, regardless of
nationality, politics, or ideology, are equally the object of God's
judgment and loving kindness in Jesus Christ.
In facing the present situation in Vietnam, Christians must take
cognizance of the fact that simplistic solutions are unrealistic.
Attempts to bring easy answers to so complex a set of problems may
only complicate them. Neither extended war nor immediate unilateral
withdrawal by the United States seems to answer the problem.
Continuance of the present limited war seems to be no solution.
Consequently, it is important that every effort be made to bring
all parties to the conflict toward a stance of openness and
flexibility with a readiness to respond to whatever beginnings of
solutions may emerge.
In view of the church's universal concern and its awareness that
the situation in Vietnam defies simplistic solutions, the Lutheran
Church in America calls upon its congregations and their
- To engage in intensive study and free discussion of the
Vietnam question, bringing to bear Christian insight upon all
aspects of this crisis.
- To pursue such study and discussion while exercising due
caution against conclusions which:
a. Assume that ends justify means.
b. Overlook the dangers of the United States acting unilaterally
rather than in cooperation with other countries through the
effective utilization of international agencies such as the United
c. Absolutize international conflicts so that one's own position it
Is seen as totally good, and the enemy's as totally evil.
d. Disregard America's traditional commitments to freedom of
expression, and the right of dissent.
e. Ignore or underestimate international Communism's declared
purposes of aggression, conquest and destruction of freedom.
- To seek to foster within their communities a climate of
political opinion characterized by such openness to new approaches
as to foster a corresponding openness on the part of those holding
national political office.
- To stand in compassion and understanding beside those to whom
the conduct of national policy is entrusted, to pray for them and
to support them, though not uncritically, in their efforts to solve
the dilemmas they face.
- To be especially mindful of the spiritual and moral problems
of men called to military service, including those who on grounds
of conscience feel that they cannot participate in war.
Finally, the Lutheran Church in America commits itself to:
- Continued works of mercy, relief, and rehabilitation in
Vietnam through Lutheran World Relief; and
- Joint efforts through the Lutheran World Federation, the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U. S. A., the
World Council of Churches, and particularly .with the churches in
Asia, in the quest for fuller understanding and possible solutions
of the international issues related to Vietnam.