The Religion & Culture Web Forum
Christian Responses to Vietnam: The Organization of Dissent
Professor of American Religious History
Brite Divinity School
In the current issue of the Web Forum, Mark Toulouse traces the variation and development of Christian attitudes towards the Vietnam War during the period when support for the war soured, as recorded by the major religious journals:
In the midst of numerous points that addressed the reasons why American action in Vietnam flew in the face of a realistic assessment of the situation, the editors also illustrated their awareness of the gap that existed between expressed American values and actual American behavior. Televised images of the war, like those dealing with the Civil Rights movement, began making their way into American living rooms…Americans burned villages, killed and maimed…while claiming to be helping the South Vietnamese people. Ironically, the editors pointed out, America has become the symbol of “neo-colonialism,” in the eyes of the world community, while at the same time it has professed its belief in the principles of democratic self-determination…From 1966 on, this kind of argument emphasizing the disjuncture between values and behavior became predominant in the journals opposing the war.