Photo: Production still from “Hacksaw Ridge” currently filming in Australia
“I felt it an honor to serve my country, God and country, same as the rest of them. The only thing, I just didn’t want to take life. I wanted to save life instead of taking life…”
Desmond Doss (March 20, 1987) – Read interview.
In September, production began in New South Wales, Australia on “Hacksaw Ridge,” Mel Gibson’s first production since Apocalypto (2006). Starring an A-list cast including Andrew Garfield and Vince Vaughn, the film tells the story of an American soldier, Desmond Doss, a drafted medic who refused to carry a weapon into combat, but was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor after he saved the lives of over 70 soldiers under heavy fire during a battle in the South Pacific during World War II.
Since the American Civil War, when the General Conference passed a resolution in 1865 for members “to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed,” Seventh-day Adventists, like Desmond Doss, have been known for asserting their religious liberty rights to serve as non-combatants and medics during times of war. However since the draft ended after the Vietnam War, the church has grown much quieter on the issue as many members and their families have joined voluntarily expecting to carry arms. Today, there are more Adventists voluntarily joining the military than at any point in denominational history. Where are the lines between love of country, responsibility to the world, and following the peaceful inclinations of faith?
In 2011, Barry Bussey, an attorney who served as the Seventh-day Adventist advocate at the United Nations, explored the issues of conscientious objection in a book entitled, Should I Fight? (Guardian Books 2011), a collection of essays and writings on the subject. The book calls on Christians to take a stand for consistency with the Biblical mandate to “love our enemies.”
While the issue has received less attention in the years since the mandatory service draft ended, Mel Gibson’s $55,000,000 film will have Adventists re-exploring this part of their history and considering the future of conscientious objection.