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Truth Commission on Conscience in War

What are the religious and moral justifications for war? Once engaged in war, what constitutes just conduct of war, and who oversees such actions? What are the limits of Conscientious Objection and how do soldiers navigate the religious and moral implications of their actions? Responding to these questions and in light of the reality of our nation’s continued involvement in two drawn-out and unpopular wars, The Truth Commission on Conscience in War is calling together a national gathering of community and religious leaders, advocacy groups, and artists from March 21-22 in New York City.

Dr. Alice Hunt, President, explains CTS’ involvement with The Truth Commission, "we consider it important that CTS co-sponsor this event calling attention to the reconciliation work remaining before us all.”

Hunt will attend The Truth Commission along with Zachary Moon, M.Div. candidate ’10, as Commissioners. Over the two-day event at The Riverside Church UCC, the Commissioners will hear testimony from veterans and briefings from expert witnesses, before meeting for discussion and deliberation. “It is important to think about how we will take the stories shared at The Truth Commission and continue to share them whether it be in churches across the country or at our seminary,” notes Moon, “so that The Truth Commission is not an isolated event but is continued across the country.”

Zachary Moon
Zachary Moon, M.Div. 2010

Moon, in his third year of the M.Div. program, brings a strong background to the work of The Truth Commission. A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Moon helped organize a group of students to take part in an independent study of pastoral care for veterans under the guidance of Dr. Lee Butler, Professor of Theology and Psychology, before completing his first unit of CPE at a Veterans Administration hospital in Palo Alto, CA. Shortly after graduation in May, Moon will move to Atlanta, GA where he is scheduled to begin a yearlong CPE residency at another Veterans Administration hospital. With this experience, Moon hopes to do chaplaincy work with soldiers and their families.

In 2002, Moon spent six months in South Africa studying the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, formed after the abolition of apartheid so that those who suffered and participated in the oppression could give witness and testimony. Later, Moon spent time in North Carolina studying the Greensboro Truth & Reconciliation Commission, which was formed 25 years after the K.K.K. attacked community activists, killing five and injuring many. Moon sees the Truth & Reconciliation process as a social, historical, and political technology deployable at many scales, whether it incorporates an entire nation or a local community.

Reflecting on the upcoming meeting in New York, Moon shares that while The Truth Commission will look at the larger issue of Conscientious Objection, what is really interesting is their focus on the stories of service members who “have had experiences that have challenged their integrity, and bring those stories to the forefront of the conversation instead of the sidelines.”

The Truth Commission will publish the Truth Commission Report, containing strategies for national interfaith conversation about just war, international law, and freedom of conscience for service members, scheduled for public release on Veterans’ Day (Nov. 11, 2010).

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