Firm for God’s Rulership
“JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES GO HOME”—this is one of a number of similar headlines that hit the front pages of the main daily newspapers in the Netherlands on July 31, 1974. What took place to prompt these news reports?
The newspapers that day reported the climax of a series of actions that the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Justice in the Netherlands took with regard to Jehovah’s Christian witnesses who are of military age. The problem was that clean-cut, well-behaved young men, whose only “crime” was refusal to be trained to kill others, were put into prison alongside hardened criminals, sometimes for terms longer than those criminals received. Those young witnesses of Jehovah took this stand because they acknowledged God’s rulership as having prior claim on their lives.
Some years ago the first step in this series of actions was taken by the Ministry of Justice. This resulted in permission being granted for Christian witnesses of Jehovah to have Bible literature in prison. Later the Witnesses were moved to another part of the prison grounds, where they lived under less rigid circumstances. They were even permitted to have their own assemblies, and representatives of the Watch Tower Society’s branch office in Amsterdam were allowed to visit them and give talks. Still later, these young Witnesses were permitted to leave prison to attend national and international conventions of Jehovah’s witnesses. They were even allowed to go home certain weeks.
Pursuing the matter further, officials of the Ministry of Defense had several discussions with representatives of the Watch Tower Society. On July 11, 1974, the Ministry of Defense announced to these representatives of the Society that no baptized Witnesses would have to report for military service anymore.
The Ministry of Justice then came into the picture again. It was decided that since the Ministry of Defense is working on definite legislation in this matter, it was no longer necessary for the Witnesses already in prison to stay there any longer. So all these Witnesses were released.
Said the newspaper Nieuwsblad van het Noorden of July 31, 1974: “There is a law in the making to grant every baptized Witness of Jehovah exemption from military service. Pending the discussion of this proposed law by the representation of the people all action against Jehovah’s [witnesses] has been stopped.”
Thus for the time being young baptized Witnesses in the Netherlands are not subject to the military draft. They appreciate the action that Dutch officials have taken on their behalf. No doubt the government officials recognized the sincerity of these young men who determined to be firm for God’s rulership because of their dedication to Jehovah, the One they recognize as having prior claim on their lives.