29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 14


Sta,—I was very interested in Mr. Thomson's letter in your issue of November r5th, in which he deplored the apparent ban that has been placed on pacifist preachers by the B.B.C. And I wondered if your readers would be interested in the views of an ordinary fighter pilot.

Don't please say: "You take care of the business of winning the war, young man, and don't bother your head about the why and wherefore." That is such an annoying thing to say. And people do say it so many times. It seems to me that if I am interested in pacifist preachers it is precisely because of, and not at all in spite of, the fact that I have an active, if humble, part in the fighting. Surely I may be allowed to ask what are the things that the fighting is all about.

This business of pacifist preachers is obviously one of them. One admits, of course, that in the middle of a life-and-death struggle you can't allow people to get up on soap-boxes and announce that the whole idea of a life-and-death struggle is a mistake. It's so plausible, for one thing. Must less can you allow them to do it with the authority of a Canon and the dignity and importance of the B.B.C. But, after all, there is a difference between being a Christian and being a pacifist. Look at the Archbishop of Canter- bury. And in view of this difference, where is our right, because a man insists that war is wrong, to stop him saying that Christianity is right? Persecuting the preacher is one stage worse than persecuting his sermon.

Of course, it may well be that Canon Raven cannot preach an honest sermon without bringing pacifism into it somewhere. This is so often the trouble with pacifists (and with non-pacifists, for that matter). But I should like to hear that somebody has tried to persuade him. In default of such an attempt, the large numbers of people who like to listen to him have a definite grievance.

In a small way I can number myself among his disciples. But I would have written this letter anyway. It's the principle of the thing. What are we fighting for, anyhow?—I am, Sir, your obedient servant, AIR FORCE OFFICER.