Historical Documents

At various points in the Seventh-day Adventist church's history, its elected officials have issued statements and resolutions concerning questions of war and peace, human rights and social justice.  Earlier generations of Adventists also engaged with pressing dilemmas of peace and justice in the form of articles, letters, editorials, speeches, and sermons.  These documents—even when forgotten, abandoned, marginalized, and ignored—highlight the church's historic and still official position of conscientious objection in times of war, as well as the radical commitments of many Adventist pioneers. We welcome recommendations of documents to add to this list, which can be sent to us by email.

Statements on Nonviolence and War

  • 2010 – A Statement on Ending Violence Against Women and Girls: “We, the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, speak up and join with others to bring an end to violence against women and girls.”

  • 2008 – On War in Congo: “Seventh-day Adventists join the calls on all those engaged in the conflict in Congo to cease military activities and resort to peaceful methods of resolving any issues that might be causing the hostilities.”

  • 2003 – A Statement on War in Iraq: “The outbreak of war in Iraq is yet another opportunity for people of faith to stand for hope in the face of despair.”

  • 2002 – A Seventh-day Adventist Call for Peace: “Pastors are being asked to use their pulpits to proclaim the gospel of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation which dissolves barriers created by race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, and religion, and promotes peaceful human relations between individuals, groups, and nations.”

  • 1999 – Kosovo: “The Church rejects the use of violence as a method for conflict resolution, be it ethnic cleansing or bombing.”

  • 1996 – Spiritual Renewal Impacts Social Change: “The ministry of Christ was a ministry of comfort, of empowerment, of liberation, and of reconciliation.”

  • 1996 – Family Violence: “For church members to remain indifferent and unresponsive is to condone, perpetuate, and possibly extend family violence.”

  • 1995 – A Statement on Abuse and Family Violence: “Seventh-day Adventists affirm the dignity and worth of each human being and decry all forms of physical, sexual and emotional abuse and family violence.”

  • 1990 – Ban on Sales of Assault Weapons to Civilians: “Automatic or semi-automatic military-style weapons are made to kill people. They have no legitimate recreational use. While it is true that violence and criminal inclinations lead to guns, it is also true that availability of guns leads to violence.”

  • 1987 – Peace and Peacemakers: Neal Wilson Addresses Delegates at the International Forum for a Non-Nuclear World and the Survival of Humanity in Moscow: “We do not participate in that ‘unreality’ that dismisses mankind’s woes and needs as objectives to be met only in some future paradise. We seek to fulfill, as best we can, Christ’s selfless service to the poor and the oppressed.”

  • 1985 – Statement on Peace: “The arms race is a colossal waste of funds and human resources and one of the most obvious obscenities of our day.”

  • 1980 – A Peace Message to All People of Good Will: “We call on all Seventh-day Adventists and other people of good will, inasmuch as in them lies, to help create atmospheres of cooperation and brotherhood, leading to exchanges between different cultures and ideological systems and better understanding between men of all races, faiths, and political persuasions.”

  • 1972 – General Conference Resolution: Similar to 1954 statement, with the following addition: “This statement is not a rigid position binding church members but gives guidance leaving the individual member free to assess the situation for himself.”

  • 1972 – North American Division Declaration: “1. For members in the United States, the counsel of the church is that the above action is best reflected at present by the I-A-O classification (military service as a noncombatant) under Selective Service System regulations….” [Additional guidance provided for I-O (alternative service) and I-A (combatant) options.]

  • 1954 – General Conference Resolution: Compare with GC statements from the 1860s below: “This partnership with God through Jesus Christ, who came into this world not to destroy men’s lives but to save them, causes Seventh-day Adventists to take a noncombatant position, following their Divine Master in not taking human life, but rendering all possible service to save it.”

  • 1935 – Obey God Rather Than Man: An Editorial by I. H. Evans: “The state generally believes in war, and often in conquest; the Christian believes in obedience to the state for the good of humanity but he does not believe that he can be a Christian and take human life.”

  • 1921 – Letter to President Harding: Adventists “strongly favor” arms reductions based on “our belief in Him who is the Prince of Peace.”

  • 1917 - A Pronouncement by the Seventh-day Adventists of the United States Concerning Bearing Arm: “We deplore that our nation has been drawn into the horrors of war. We have been noncombatants throughout our history.”

  • c. 1915 - Should Christians Bear Arms?: By R. C. Porter: “Soldiers know that war is anti-Christian. Christ’s teaching stands in marked contrast to the spirit of militarism of our time.”

  • 1899 - War: The True and the False Estimate: By A. T. Jones: “War is the loss of all human sense; under its influence men become animals entirely. It is the reversal of Christianity. And yet today in the United States the great majority of professed ministers of the gospel hold war to be perfectly compatible with Christianity. Is it not time there were a revival of the preaching of the gospel of peace?”

  • 1868 - General Conference Resolution: “We cannot believe it to be right for the servants of Christ to take up arms to destroy the lives of their fellow-men.”

  • 1867 - General Conference Resolution: “Engaging in war is a direct violation of the teachings of our Saviour.”

  • 1865 - General Conference Resolution: We are “compelled to decline all participation in acts of war and bloodshed as being inconsistent with the duties enjoined upon us by our divine Master toward our enemies and toward all mankind.”

  • 1865 - Why Seventh-day Adventists Cannot Engage in War: By George W. Amadon: “‘If my kingdom were of this world then would my servants fight.’ This is most indisputable evidence that Christians have nothing to do with carnal instruments of war.”

  • 1864 - Seventh-day Adventists Recognized as Noncombatants By J. N. Andrews: “We are a noncombatant people. It may be proper to introduce [to government officials] the testimony of the drafted man’s neighbors, showing that his life has been consistent with this declaration of faith.”

Statements on Economic Justice

  • 2010 – Statement on Global Poverty: Adventists advocate “for public policy that offers justice and fairness to the poor, for their empowerment and human rights.”

  • 1990 – Statement on Homelessness and Poverty: Adventists call for “public policies that relieve suffering.”

  • 1995 – Literacy: “The inability to read impacts every aspect of a person's life--earning power, career opportunities, access to health care information, and even the ability to raise a child properly. Without the skill of reading, few doors of opportunity can ever be opened.”

Statements on the Environment

  • 1996 – Statement on Stewardship of the Environment: We accept “the accumulated evidence that the increasing emission of destructive gasses” is contributing to “climate change” and the destruction of the eco-system.

  • 1995 – The Dangers of Climate Change:The world membership of the Seventh-day Adventist Church requests that the governments concerned take steps necessary to avert the danger.”

  • 1995 – A Statement on the Environment: The ecological crisis has been caused by “the egocentric pursuit of getting more and more through ever-increasing production, unlimited consumption and depletion of nonrenewable resources.”

  • 1992 – Caring for the Environment: “Our goal is a sustainable development of resources while meeting human needs.”

Statements on Human Rights

  • 1999 – Religious Minorities and Religious Freedom: “The Seventh-day Adventist Church stands for religious freedom for everyone, as well as for the separation of church and state.”

  • 1998 – Statement on the 50th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The Seventh-day Adventist Church urges the United Nations, government authorities, religious leaders and believers, and non-government organizations to consistently work for the implementation of this Declaration.”

  • 1997 – How Seventh-day Adventists View Roman Catholicism: “We gladly acknowledge that sincere Christians may be found in other denominations, including Roman Catholicism, and we work in concert with all agencies and bodies that seek to relieve human suffering and to uplift Christ before the world.”

  • 1995 – Human Relations: “Seventh-day Adventists deplore and seek to combat all forms of discrimination based on race, tribe, nationality, color, or gender.”

  • 1995 – Tolerance: “Intolerance is abounding on all continents - bigoted religious extremism, racism, tribalism, ethnic cleansing, linguistic enmity, and other forms of terrorism and violence. Christians carry their share of the blame for prejudice and inhumanity toward humans.”

  • 1995 – Women's Issues: “Seventh-day Adventists believe that all people, male and female, are created equal, in the image of a loving God.”

  • 1995 – Religious Freedom: “We recognize the need to champion freedom of conscience and religion as a fundamental human right, in harmony with the instruments of the United Nations.”

  • 1985 – Racism and Apartheid: “The Seventh-day Adventist Church deplores all forms of racism, including the political policy of apartheid with its enforced segregation and legalized discrimination.”