NZ Selected News Reports

The following transcripts provide a deeper insight into the fellowship's views about the nature of the organisation, its name, individual/organisational beliefs and recent history since founding. A summary of some findings is available at New Zealand History

19070518 NZ Truth p8 A New Religion

A New Religion


Operating in Australia


Missionaries in Melbourne


The “Go-Preachers” or “Dippers” – The “No-Sect Sect” –

A Campaign of Cadging – Homes Broken Up—

Australians Beware!

Of the making of new religious sects there is no end. And as if Australia had not already an ample variety of religiosity, a new one has come here. Officially, they bear no name, but, for reasons hereafter explained, they are variously known as “The Go-Preachers,” “The Cooneyites,” “The Irvineites,” “The No-Sect Sect,” and sometimes as “The Dippers.” Ostensibly they have no responsible organisation, no headquarters, no offices; but, behind it all, there are, as usual, clever hands and cunning brains. Four representatives of the sect are already operating in Melbourne, while two are said to be at work in Sydney. It would appear that the sect was started in Great Britain in 1898. Six years previously one William Irvine a colliery manager at Kilsyth,Scotland attended a mission service held by the “Rev.” John McNeil, an Evangelist. Eight months later he resigned his position and went to the Bible Training Institute at Glasgow, and until 1898 he was attached to the “Faith Mission,” which sent out preachers all over the United Kingdom. But while working in the South of Ireland Irvine came to the conclusion that his position was “inconsistent with the example of Christ,” and he left the mission to preach alone. “Had I chosen the ordinary path that leads to the ministry, with its churches, chapels, congregations, and stipends, all would have been well,” says Irvine. So he inaugurated the “Go-Preachers” who sometimes vary the name by calling themselves the


Their “Charter” as they call it, is the 10th chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, and they are told to follow the Apostolic injunction: “And as ye go, preach, saying the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand, “ and “Provide neither gold, nor silver, not brass in your purses; nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats…for the workman is worthy of his hire.” Upon this foundation the Irvineites have built up an extensive system of fraud, imposition, cadging and credulity. In 1891, Irvine was joined by, amongst others, Edward Cooney, the son of an Enniskillen draper, who became a member of the sect with Annie Smith, one of his father’s assistants. Later on Irvine and Cooney were joined by one Wilson McClung, and hence in certain parts of England the “preachers” are known as “McClungites.”

Now what are the tenets of this sect? In the first place they cadge and loaf upon other people. Irvine himself says: “In exchange for bread and butter we give those who are in fellowship with us bread from Heaven – a real hearty exchange…Whenever I have visited the home of a brother I have always found hospitality in exchange for that which, as a preacher of the truth, I bring into it… As for those phases of the work which cannot be carried on without money, all I know is that the money has always been available.” But at the back of all this bunkum there is the undeniable fact that Irvine’s “converts” and “disciples” have supplied him with any amount of money. It has been ascertained that the income of Irvine and Cooney totals at least £2,000 a year, apart from the cost of sending “preachers” to the colonies and other expenses, such as bicycles, clothes, railway and boat fares, to say nothing of the cost, where it must be incurred, of accommodation. But, primarily, the “Go-Preachers” or “The Dippers” are loafers.

Secondly, the “Go-Preachers” (according to the English papers which have investigated their proceedings) are breakers of homes, breeders of


Up to the commencement of the present year Irvine had dispatched 114 “preachers” to Canada and the United States, some score to South Africa, and half a dozen or so to Australia and New Zealand. These “preachers” are mostly girls, and it is evident, from published correspondence, that their movements are directed by Irvine and Cooney. Irvine says: “The preachers always go about in pairs—two men and two women. A sister always has her companion to whom she can appeal. If she thinks it advisable she may go to one of the brothers, who are always at hand, prepared to exercise nothing more than a brotherly control, which is the only kind of control we have. We don’t recognize that sisters do more than help. They couldn’t baptize.” Scores of young men and women have turned their backs upon home and relatives and gone into the world as converts of the new religion. In many cases (inquired into by English journalists) four sisters named Wilson, the daughters of a farmer near Ipswich, were each entitled to £500 under their grandfather’s will, and all this money went to Irvine. Numerous instances have been published of girls leaving home, and, under the influence of the new religion, going to America, Africa or Australia, and an authenticated case (in Lancashire) is given to prove that a young woman lost her reason through


and had to be placed in confinement. “God provides,” said the “preachers,” but the £2,000 of the Wilson children should be borne in mind. A typical illustration of the practices of the “Go-Preachers” is that one of them who “lived” on a poor woman in Falkirk, Scotland, until she was compelled to put him “out”. Their “preachers” in Australia are carrying on the same game.

As to their assertion that they have neither organization nor method it is conclusively shown that, as a body, they are controlled by individuals; that there exists a perfectly understood system encouraging likely “preachers”; that, so far from their movements depending upon Divine guidance, they are mainly pre-arranged; that they are maintained and housed by an elaborate system liable to abuse; and that the strength of the preaching is modified to suit the occasion. If they can, they loaf; but sometimes “payment is necessary where there is no saints or no accommodation.” All requests to Irvine or Cooney from fathers or mothers for information as to the


and the conditions under which they are living are refused. At the annual convention held in Belfast brothers and sisters (according to Irvine) “volunteer for the work in the colonies,” but there is ample evidence that they are “sent,” and have no choice but to go.

Regarding “Go-Preachers” who are already operating in Australia, “Truth” has been able to ascertain that four are in Melbourne. Two of this quartette are Willie and Aggie Hughes (apparently brother and sister), who came here on the Oswestry Grange. Subsequently Aggie wrote: “We got into a Baptist hall, but only got staying a week. Were put out at the end of it, although we did try to go softly” (i.e., in preaching). The names of the others are at present unascertainable; and it is significant that the Melbourne Baptists, with which denomination the “Dippers” are stated to be allied, deny all knowledge of the sect. “Truth’s” representative who inquired into the matter, however, has reason to believe that the “Baptist hall” mentioned in the letter was


But the fact that there are representatives of the “Go-Preachers” in Melbourne and Sydney is fully established, and also that they are at work endeavoring to proselytize and “convert” and also to loaf and cadge, according to their creed, upon those who have provided themselves with a modicum of the good things of this world. It is worthy of note that the “Irvineites” are divided into two sections—the “preachers” and the “saints”. The “preachers” are those who abandon the things of the world in order to devote their lives to preaching. The “saints” are those who remain at home “in fellowship” under the supervision of the “bishops,” among the latter being Irvine and Cooney. And it is an understood thing that the “preachers” in the colonies are expected to remit to the “saints” at home any monetary collections they may make.

– Melbourne “Truth”

19170104 The Press p8 Robert Patton and Ernest Holtham - Testimony of Jesus


Robert Clayton Patton, contractor, Mt Somers, appealed on the ground of religious objections.

When asked what religious sect he belonged to he said “The Testimony of Jesus.” The chairman asked if this was a recognised religious body, but could get no definite reply. “We put Christ ahead of everything,” was one of the appellant’s replies. Under further examination he said they had no clergy, no governing body. “We leave it all to Christ,” he said.

“Pretty vague,” commented the chairman. “Cannot you give us a better answer than that?”

“I have a friend here who can,” said appellant.

Ernest John Holtham said he was a preacher in the sect. He had known of the existence of the religion for about seven years, having first come into contact with it in Victoria. Before that he was a Methodist. He met some preachers who belonged to this denomination and afterwards he began to preach the faith himself, having preached for five years and during that time he had made many converts in different parts of the country. The sect was known as “The Testimony of Jesus.” In the old Country it was recognised by the War Office and its preachers exempted from military service. The sect had no written teachings, but relied upon the New Testament, which they claimed was opposed to war.

The chairman: What do you suggest is going to happen if all but the Germans obeyed your teachings?

Witness: It is a case of everyone to his own conscience.

The chairman: But if you had no one else to protect you?

Witness: We understand the British nation is fighting for its existence : we are ready to help in certain respects.

The chairman: You are not prepared to go and fight?

Witness: No

The Chairman: Nor assist in any way?

Witness: We are prepared to assist the military authorities but in a civil capacity.

The chairman pointed out that all who assisted with voluntary contributions were thereby assisting in the war, except that they were keeping out of the danger zone.

Witness said something about there being a greater danger in a man’s own conscience.

The chairman: If you saw a woman outraged would you stand by?

Witness replied that he would do his best to help her, but he would not sanction the killing of the assailant.

The chairman; Well your views are not what I understand according to the bible.

In reply to the chairman, Patton said he would not submit himself to the military authorities. He refused to sign an undertaking to perform non-combatant service after being warned by the chairman that this was his only way of escape, and accordingly his appeal was dismissed.

19170201 The Dominion p6 Fred Plews and Wilson McClung





An appeal was made before the Third Wellington Military Service Board on behalf of Frederick Peter Clews, described as an evangelist, the grounds being religious and public interest.

Wilson McClung, head evangelist of a body know as The Testimony of Jesus Christ, gave an outline of the history of the body. He said it was a voluntary organisation, existing in every English-speaking country, and there was nothing governing its doctrines and tenets except their own interpretation of the Gospel. For the last four years, the appellant, who was a carpenter by trade, had devoted himself to the work of the organisation, which had about 750 adherents throughout New Zealand. There were 14 evangelists, who were supported by voluntary gifts from those who received spiritual comfort from them. They were opposed to war, and considered their present work more important than Red Cross or Army Service work.

Captain Baldwin : But would you object to perform that work if the board thought you should go? – It is all part of the same machine.

But I want a straight answer. – Yes.

You would object? We would; it is opposed to the teachings of Jesus and his disciples.

Mr Considine : If all of us were of your belief, what would become of us? The Germans would get us all.

Mr. McClung : We started our work before the Germans.

It was then ascertained that Clews was making a personal appeal before the First Board, and further consideration was therefore adjourned.

[Note: The newspaper report incorrectly refers to Fred Plews as Fred Clews]

19170726 The Dominion p9 Testimony of Jesus – Appeals for 18

Military Service Board

Conscientious Objectors

A Sect with No Written Constitution


The Third Wellington Military Service Board sat in Wellington yesterday. Mr. H. J. Beswick presided, and with him were Mr. M. J. Mack and Mr. A. O. L. Considine. Captain P. Baldwin appeared for the military authorities.

The board heard appeals affecting about eighteen conscientious objectors (now in camp), who belong to the sect known as the Testimony of Jesus. Sir John Findlay, K.C., appeared for the appellants. The regulations had been changed since the appeals had been dismissed, and the Minister of Defence had agreed to an application being made to the board for rehearing. All the appellants were willing to sign an undertaking to perform non-combatant work.

Sir John Findlay said that he would first draw attention to Section 18 of the Act, which provided that any man called up for service should have a right of appeal on the grounds that he was, on August 4, 1914, and had been since, a member of a religious body, the tenets and doctrines of which declared that the bearing of arms and the performance of combatant service was contrary to Divine revelation, and also that according to his own conscientious religious belief the bearing of arms was unlawful, being contrary to Divine revelation. Counsel said he must, therefore, show that the Testimony of Jesus was a religious body in accordance with the section, and also that the person claiming to be a member of it did conscientiously believe that the bearing of arms was contrary to Divine revelation. In New Zealand there were between 700 and 800 members, with 24 ministers or evangelists. In Australia there were 74 evangelists, and 2500 members, while in England there were 70 ministers and 5000 members. The sect had been in existence for upwards of twenty years. They had no written constitution, but adopted the New Testament teachings. The qualification for membership was merely the profession of a belief in the teachings of Christ, and an undertaking to observe such teachings in everyday life. The evangelists were preachers selected at the annual conventions, and received no regular remuneration, but were dependent upon voluntary contributions from co-religionists in their districts. Every person desirous of becoming a preacher must first sell all his worldly goods and distribute them among the poor. They interpreted certain teachings of Jesus Christ as expressly prohibitous against the bearing of arms. The body had no central control or official literature, but the view was universally held that the bearing of arms was forbidden by Christ. It was one of the cardinal doctrines of the faith.

Wilson McClung, called as a witness, said that he was the “overseer” or principal representative of the body in New Zealand. He had been connected with it for about twenty years, having first come into touch with it in Ireland.

The chairman: Who is the head of the whole thing? – Witness: “It has no head, sir. I am the overseer in New Zealand.”

Have you no charter, no rules, no written matter at all? – “Only the New Testament.”

The chairman: That is most extraordinary, because even a football club has something written.

In reply to further questions, witness said that the body, as it existed in other countries, was there also without any written constitution.

The chairman: Then the difficulty is to see how you are going to establish the fact that the teachings of this Church are so-and-so. What would happen if anybody kicked over the traces here? You are quite unique if you can so far agree as to what they should and should not do.

Captain Baldwin: The question is, Are there any traces to kick over?

Witness, proceeding, said that it had always been a belief of the Testimony of Jesus that it was wrong to bear arms.

The chairman said that in the absence of written evidence it was simply a question of getting further witnesses to corroborate what the present witness was saying.

The chairman: When did the question of the bearing of arms first crop up, so far as you were concerned?

Witness: Last year.

Was that at a convention? – “At different conventions in New Zealand.”

Can you say that the question of bearing arms was ever discussed or taught upon prior to the war? – “I can’t say it ever became a question, but at the same time we held and believed that the teaching of Christ was entirely opposed to it.”

You held it yourself? – “No, the body.”

But how can you say the body held it when the question was never discussed? – “It was discussed, but not at meetings.

After the examination of the witness had proceeded further, the chairman remarked: Apparently they discussed the question only last year, and then came to the conclusion that the bearing of arms was unlawful.

Sir John Findlay: I must say I was led distinctly to understand by this gentleman and by other gentlemen whom I shall call that while the question of whether the Conscription Act compelled these men to serve was raised as an immediate and practical question, yet since the start one of the cardinal tenets of the body was that the bearing of arms was against the Divine revelation. I must, in justice to another evangelist, call him and see what he says.

The next witness was John Ernest Holtham, who said that for five years he had been an evangelist for the Testimony of Jesus. His first connection with the body had been through the attending of evangelistic meetings. In attending those meetings, he had got clear ideas of what the beliefs were, and amongst other things he got to see very plainly that the preacher did not believe in taking up arms in any way. This was actually stated. At a conference held at Waikanae, the members of the Testimony of Jesus had decided that the attitude they had all along taken up was the correct attitude, and that they should persist in it. He admitted that no definite resolution to that effect was passed, but maintained that all present were in agreement upon the matter.

James Manning and R. J. Tarr, other members of the sect, were called.

The board reserved its decision, the chairman remarking that it was a very difficult question to decide upon.

19180507 The Colonist p2 Fred Plews – Testimony of Jesus

Frederick Plews, evangelist, Waikanae, for whom Mr. D. R. Hoggard appeared, made an application to the Second Wellington Military Service Board for exemption on the ground that he was a minister of the body known as the Testimony of Jesus Christ. Mr. Hoggard said this body was recognised as a religious organisation in Great Britain and Canada, and he asked that the reservist should be treated in a similar manner to other ministers of religion. The Chairman (Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M.) pointed out that the members of the faith in question had no written creed, and he would have to advise the board that the reservist was not in the same position as the ministers of other recognised religious bodies. The board decided to dismiss the appeal, the reservist to be given non-combatant service.

19190207 Pukekohe and Waiuku Times p2 re George and William Adamson Pukekohe East Cadet Exemption

Religion & Drilling


Conscientious Objector’s Views


Sect Without a Name


Features of quite an exceptional character surrounded an application made to Mr. F.K. Hunt, S.M. at the Pukekohe Magistrate’s Court yesterday by Mr. W. Adamson, farmer, of Pukekohe East, for the exemption of his two sons, George Eric, and William, aged 17 and 16 years respectively, from military service as Senior Cadets.

The applicant informed the Magistrate that it was against his and his sons’ religious principles for them to bear arms.

Lieut. Hatt, representing the Defence Department, interjected with the remark that hitherto the lads had attended parades and he did not know why objection was now raised.

Questioned by the Magistrate, Mr. Adamson stated that he belonged to no specified religious organisation. He was a follower of Christ. Their church had no name and the services were held in their own house.

The boys were then called forward and, whilst the elder maintained that according to his belief he could not take up arms, the younger remarked that he used to obey the law of the land by attending drills but he had since made his choice and saw differently.

The Magistrate: Drill in this instance is only a sort of glorified physical drill and from what I can see of the boys drilling would do them good. Although they may shoulder rifles they are not going to use them except at targets. It would be different if they were going to war.

Mr. Adamson: The drilling is only the forerunner of preparing for war.

Replying to the Magistrate, Mr. Adamson said his sect had two churches in the district or rather, they met at his and another person’s houses, and their membership totalled 15 or 16. Mr. Adamson went on to state that he saw nothing in the teaching of Christ bearing on taking up arms.

His Worship: but you do not see anything either in the teaching as to physical drill. If you had a revolver and a burglar entered your house, would you use it if necessary?

Mr. Adamson: I don’t think I would. There would be other ways of stopping him.

Mr. John Lowe, of Buckland, then entered the witness box in support of the application. He deposed that he was an elder of the Church, which, as Mr. Adamson had stated, was not an organised religious body and had no name. The elder boy, he added, joined the fellowship about two years ago and the younger about a year past. Their Church simply followed the teaching and doctrine of Christ and accordingly they did not approve of bearing arms.

The Magistrate: But the doctrine does not say that boys should not drill and exercise their muscles. Suppose they drilled without rifles, would you object?

Lieut. Hatt (interposing): If this application succeeds we shall be bombarded with similar applications by people forming churches.

The Magistrate: That is what I am leading up to. The examinations for recruits for the war showed that there were a great many young men suffering from defects which, if taken in time would have been overcome. The law only recognises established churches and named denominations as entitled to exemption. The country is run according to Act of Parliament, and not according to the Scriptures. I intend to act in accordance with the decisions of the Military Courts, and I must refuse the application. At the same time, I recognise the honesty of Mr. Adamson’s principles.

Mr. Adamson (sorrowfully): We are not law-breakers, and do not intend to be. There is a drill coming off soon, and the boys will attend. We mean well. I will appeal to a higher court. Christ was never popular, and I am afraid his followers also never will be.

The parties then left the Court.

19200522 Otago Daily times p15 Nameless sect Walter Scott and Wilson McClung

Objection to Military Training


Lad Granted Exemption


Some time was occupied in the Police Court yesterday morning in the endeavour to determine the beliefs and organisation of a peculiarly vague sect, one of whose members made application for exemption from attendance at parades on the ground that any form of military service was contrary to his religious beliefs. It appears that members of this body have previously been exempted during war time but the fact that it has no name, no special creed or principles, and no acknowledged head made the position a somewhat difficult one to deal with. Mr. Bartholomew, S.M., presided on the bench, and Major Fraser appeared for the Defence Department. The applicant, Walter Ernest Scott, 18 years of age, was represented by Mr. Aspinall.

Mr. Aspinall said his client belonged to a religious body that had already obtained exemption. They met at Purakanui and also at Otokia. One of their beliefs was that taking up arms was contrary to the teaching of Christ.

The applicant, in evidence, said he had known this body since last Labour Day, and had become a member of it just before Christmas. He was baptized at a convention at Otokia just after Christmas. He attended their regular Wednesday and Sunday meetings at Mr. Balone’s house in Littlebourne. His mother belonged to this body and had been baptized at the same time. They believed that the bearing of arms was contrary to the teaching of Christ, because they never found that He did anything of the kind. He attended parades and drilled with the Senior Cadets before joining this body.

To Major Fraser: He would object to joining the Ambulance. He wanted complete exemption. He did not want to do anything military.

Major Fraser: You say Christ did not join the army. He did not ride in railway trains or use the telephone. You don’t use these either? – Yes, I do.

Major Fraser: In lieu of military training, would you do other work of benefit to the State? – It all depends what the work was.

When the position had been further explained to him, Scott said he would be quite willing to do the work required so long as it was not anything to do with the military.

To the Magistrate he stated that his father, who was a Presbyterian, did not care much for him getting exemption. He let him go to the meetings though he did not like the idea at first. Before joining this body he had gone to a Presbyterian Sunday school, and had attended the Central Mission frequently.

Major Fraser: Who is going to give the necessary assurance that you remain a member of the body? – It rests with myself to give you that assurance.

Replying again to his Worship, Scott said he did not think they had any written constitution. As for beliefs and principles, they looked in the Bible to see how it was done there.

Mr. Bartholomew: but you can find almost anything you want in the Bible. – We follow Christ and try to do as He did.

Mr. Bartholomew remarked that you could not have a body without distinctive tenets or principles to which the members subscribed. That was the essence of a body.

John Wilson McLung (sic), an evangelist of this body for some 20 years, said they took no sectarian name, and were just followers of Christ. Their teachings were those that Jesus Christ laid down and practised. Witness was the overseer of their evangelists in New Zealand. They were in every English-speaking country in the world and outside that too. They met annually for conferences in different countries. The evangelists were supported by the voluntary contributions of those who received their spiritual teaching. He was quite satisfied the applicant was genuine and not merely seeking to avoid military service. As a body they objected to militarism. For constitution they had nothing but the teachings of the New Testament.

Mr. Bartholomew: but all churches hold to them. – There is a difference between practice and profession.

Mr. Bartholomew: I see. You practice and the others only profess!

Witness went on to say that Christ and His apostles were the true interpreters of Scripture. They could never think of Jesus Christ or Peter taking up arms. The membership of the sect was about 1200 in New Zealand. Before the war it would be about 700 or 800. This increase was a normal one, he would say. They had 28 evangelists at the present time.

Mr. Bartholomew said that under the Defence Act the defendant was entitled to exemption if the magistrate was satisfied that military service was contrary to his beliefs. All he had to decide was whether the applicant’s objection was in good faith. Scott was old enough to have developed a religious conscience of his own, and appeared to be quite honest in his beliefs. The Legislature was very tender, and made provision for such cases; but provision was also made for other work to be done in lieu of military training, and the Act said that if those obtaining exemption failed to do this work the exemption would be cancelled. The exemption applied for in this case would be granted.

19200615 McClung letter to Prime Minister Massey

8 Littlebourne Rd



15: 6 : 20

The Rt Hon W. F. Massey

Prime Minister

Dear Sir.

I beg to bring before your notice that a number of applications from young men, and parents of boys belonging to our particular body, known to Military as “Testimony of Jesus” for exemption from Military training under the Act have been made and exemptions granted by the different Magistrates, but in the case of two young fellows, George and Reginald Adamson of Pukekohe East, and a boy, Matthew Rogers, of Auckland, the Magistrates at Pukekohe and Auckland have absolutely refused to grant exceptions, although any evidence they required to prove applications were bona fide was forthcoming. As the overseer of this body I beg to refer these cases to you so that we may get the benefit of the Act your Honorable Government has passed in the cases named. I am sorry to trespass on your valuable time but we consider that the Act should be administered alike in each part of the Dominion and I shall be glad if you will kindly have the matter looked into.

I am


Your obedient Servant

W McClung

19210818 Auckland Star p8 Balfour Wilson – Testimony of Jesus


Embryo Evangelist


Objects to Khaki


Sect with Strange Name


Case for Theological Experts


A delicate looking youth named K. Balfour M Wilson, aged 18, who described himself as a cabinetmaker’s apprentice asked at the Magistrate’s Court for exemption from military training under Section 65 of the Act of 1912, which refers to exemption on the ground of religious belief.

Mr. Norman Hanna who appeared for the lad, said his client belonged to the sect known under the name of “In the Testimony of Jesus,” of whom there were about 1200 or 1300 in the Dominion and about 150 in Auckland and suburbs. They met in each others’ houses, and had no churches in the ordinary acceptance of the word. The lad was quite sincere in his belief and when he reached the age of 21 intended to dispossess himself of all his worldly goods and become a preacher.

The first witness was Edwin John Maddren, described as an elder of the sect. He said they called themselves Christians among themselves, but were known outside under the name mentioned by counsel. They believed that they should try and live as Christ lived while on earth. They believed that the Scriptures throughout were against military training. He quoted St. Paul’s well-known remarks as to whom people should wrestle with in his Epistle to the Ephesians and also the saying of Christ about those who take the sword shall perish by the sword.

To the Court He did not know who founded the sect, nor when it was started. He had been a member for 11 years. He knew very little about its history but knew it had existed for a very long while.

Mr. Hanna pointed out that the sect were secessionists from all orthodox churches and did not care about names. At the same time the sect was worldwide.

Witness said their preachers were evangelists who gave everything they had to the poor and went about preaching. Witness was satisfied as to the bona fides of young Wilson, who was a full member of the sect.

To Captain Redmond, who represented the Defence Department: The claims of the sect for exemption during the war were not recognised.

Captain Redmond pointed out that Wilson was not a Territorial, but a Cadet, and had already attended over 13 drills. He asked witness if he were aware that the Cadet’s training aimed at fitting a lad to be a good citizen and making him upright, and whether he knew that when the time came that he might be called on to fight for his country he still had power under the Act to apply for exemption?

Witness contended the training was all military in effect.

Captain Redmond: If the country were invaded to-morrow and the enemy started to carry off your womenkind, would you stand by and let them do it?

Witness: We ought to obey God rather than man. We ought to be prepared to leave all in the hands of God.

Captain Redmond: Do you want this young man to grow up like you?

Witness: Yes.

Capt. Redmond: Do you think it is right that he should enjoy the privileges of this country and the sacrifices of other people, and then not fight for the country if it were invaded by an enemy?

Witness: We believe we should follow the teachings of his Master.

To Mr. Hanna: During the war the members of the sect were conscripted, and about 60 of them went to prison rather than serve.

Wilson, the applicant, went into the box in support of his application, and contended that the whole life and teachings of Christ were against all kinds of fighting.

The Magistrate (Mr. Bundle): In your opinion, that is.

Wilson went on to explain that when he was 21 he intended to take up preaching. He intended to dispossess himself of all he had.

Mr. Bundle: What have you now in the way of property?

Wilson said he understood that there was about £200 which would come to him when he became of age. It was his intention to give everything away when he came of age.

Mr. Hanna: To whom?

Wilson: Anyone that is in more need of it than I am. If I saw a stranger in need I would give him something.

In answer to Captain Redmond, Wilson said that if it were the will of God that an enemy – a Chinaman or a Japanese – should invade the country and carry off his sister, for instance, he would not presume to interfere. He would not limit the will of God.

Capt. Redmond: I think the Territorials would be better without you, if that is the way you think.

The Magistrate, looking at the applicant: It seems a pity that a youth of his appearance should not take some form of exercise, or have an opportunity of doing so.

Wilson protested that he did take exercise, and among other games played football.

The Magistrate: You don’t look like it.

Mr. Bundle reserved judgment, and in delivering it this morning said it was not a matter in which he could allow his personal feelings as to the desirability or otherwise of granting the application to influence him. In such an application he had to be satisfied that the applicant objected to undergo training in good faith on the ground that such training was contrary to his religious belief. The applicant in the present case had so satisfied the Court, and exemption would be granted for twelve months. His Worship suggested that as the Court, and possibly the Defence representatives, experienced a difficulty in cross-examining such an applicant on his religious beliefs, any similar cases should in future be referred to the Army chaplain for the purpose of getting that officer’s advice.

In answer to Mr. Hanna the magistrate said the exemption would operate until the end of the military year. At the end of that time the applicant could make a further application. He was still only a boy, and possibly he was passing through a phase, and his opinions might not be permanent. The applicant was not entitled to exemption for all time.

19240319 Auckland Star p5 Testimony of Jesus – founder willing to shed blood

Exemption Sought.


In Name of Religion.


Cleaning of Dirty Rifles


The obligations of a young Christadelphian under the Defence Act were the subject of some lively talk in the Police Court to-day. A youth – backed up by his father – sought exemption on the grounds that military training was contrary to the canons of his faith. Mr. Glaister appeared in support of the application.

Staff Sergeant Major Innes informed Mr. J. W. Poynton, S.M., that when the Court ordered conscientious objectors to serve in the Medical Corps they were placed in squads to do physical drill till such time as they were old enough to be transferred to the Territorial Force when they would be posted to a noncombatant branch.

The father stated that the son objected to being under military discipline. He did not wish to evade equivalent service, and was willing to work in public gardens or render any other public service.

The magistrate remarked that the case appeared genuine enough, but sometimes applicants merely wished to evade training. A case had come under his Worship’s notice which should be given publicity in order to show how insincere these people sometimes were. His Worship had heard applications for exemption by young men who represented themselves as being members of a sect known as the Testimony of Jesus. Some little time afterwards his Worship received a letter from the founder of the faith. This letter showed how insincere the applicants had been. It stated that the founder was a true Briton, and was willing to shed his last drop of blood for his country, and that he was very annoyed to think that any of his followers should make their faith an excuse for trying to evade service.

The question arose as to whether the applicant in the case under review would have to carry a rifle. Sergeant-Major Innes replied that the lad would have to perform physical exercises. “We’ll give him some dirty rifles to clean while the other boys are drilling” he said.

Strong exception was taken to this remark by Mr. Glaister, who deplored “the lack of intelligence” shown by officers of the Defence Department when they said that a boy ordered to perform physical exercises was to be made to clean some old rifles. Such a statement was an insult to the intelligence of the Court. A boy’s time would be much better served if he were sent to attend ambulance classes, so that he could get a certificate at the end of the year. To say that he had to clean dirty rifles was making a farce of the whole thing. Classes of boys with views like those of the applicant could be organised for instruction in ambulance work.

The sergeant major stated that there was no regulation to this effect otherwise it could be done.

The magistrate decided that the boy could not be exempted. He would serve in the physical training squad. The father should take some action in the matter of ambulance classes.

The father We will Sir. We will bring it under the notice of the Minister.

19401212 Evening Post p15 Christian Assemblies of Australia and NZ


Exemption Sought


Military Training


Evangelist’s Claim


Question of Status


Exemption from Territorial training on the ground that he was a minister of the Gospel was claimed before the Wellington Manpower Committee today by a member of the Christian Assemblies of Australia and New Zealand, who described himself in his application as an evangelist. Decision was reserved.

A letter signed by Mr. W. McClung, overseer of the organisation, and certifying that the appellant was an ordained minister of the Gospel “laboring in fellowship with the body of Christians assuming this name only,” was produced in evidence.

The depty-chairman (sic) (Mr. E. P. Hay) said that if the appellant were a clergyman in some recognised religious organisation, he would automatically be entitled to an adjournment sine die, but the committee had no knowledge of the Christian Assemblies of Australia and New Zealand and would like to know exactly what the standing of the organisation was. One of the tests of the committee applied to determine whether a particular appellant was a clergyman or not was whether he was an officiating minister under the Marriage Act. “You don’t appear to be one,” said Mr. Hay to the appellant. “Have you applied for that?”

The appellant said that he had not made such application.

Mr. Hay: Does not your denomination aim at solemnising marriages?

“It is purely a civil matter, I believe, and is performed by the civil authorities,” replied the appellant. He said he understood that Christian ministers did not perform marriages until the sixteenth century.


In reply to further questions, the appellant said that he devoted the whole of his time to the activities of the organisation. He had been a preacher for two years. The organisation had no buildings of its own. No salaries were paid and the workers relied on donations from people who were interested in what they preached. Halls were engaged for Gospel meetings.

Asked where Mr. McClung derived his authority, the appellant said: “The only authority I can say is that he is one of the oldest members and one of the most capable in the country.”

There were about 40 preachers in the organisation in New Zealand, said the appellant.

Mr. Hay: Who appointed you to this office?

The appellant: I wanted to go preaching, and I asked Mr. McClung, and he appointed me.

You have no organised body of people at all? Have you any roll of members, or anything of that sort? – No.

In reply to Mr. E. E. Canham, a member of the committee, the appellant said that anyone could preach the Gospel.

Mr. Canham: In other words, any one of the appellants before this committee could go to Mr. McClung and ask to be appointed a preacher. You can see what that would do. They could all claim to be ministers of religion. It would be like a Portuguese army – all generals and no privates.

The appellant said that the organisation had been in existence as long as he could remember. It had missionaries in other countries who were supported in the same way as the preachers he had mentioned.

Mr. Hay: Strictly speaking, there is no real organisation. Would you put yourself forward in the ordinary way as a minister of religion?

The appellant: Yes. My full time is devoted to it.


Have you a statement of creed drawn up and published? – We publish no literature at all.

There are no tenets laid down for the organisation? – The Bible is our only creed and Christ is our only foundation.

Mr. Hay said the committee’s difficulty was that it had a general direction from the authorities that a minister of religion, in the usual sense of the term, was entitled to exemption from military service. From what the appellant had said it must be apparent that the committee could not at present be satisfied that he was a minister of religion. “It is not for us to define what a minister is, except to be guided by what is generally accepted as the meaning of the term,” Mr. Hay added.

The appellant: But is a minister not a minister unless he performs the marriage ceremony?

Mr. Hay: I would not say that, but are you in a different position from any individual who, because of his beliefs, likes to give up his ordinary calling and go around preaching the Gospel?

The appellant: I take it that I am a minister in the ordinary way preaching the Gospel. We are recognised as ministers of the Gospel in England and are exempt from military service. We also have exemption as ministers of the Gospel from paying the levy here.

A copy of a letter advising of the exemption given in England was in the possession of a brother worker in Masterton, the appellant added.

Decision was reserved and the appellant was asked to send a copy of the letter to the secretary of the committee.

19410206 Auckland Star p9 Doug McConnell John Gunson









Differences of opinion between a reservist who appealed on religious grounds and members of the No 1 Armed Forces Appeal Board livened up the first public sitting of the Board which opened at Pukekohe this morning.

The Board consists of Mr C R Orr Walker S.M. Chairman, Mr A M Samuel, Mr F J Cox, and Mr T P McCready. Mr Mortimer is secretary to the board and Mr Cox is representing the Crown.

The second case on the list was that of Douglas Hill McConnell who took the affirmation instead of the usual oath.

Before his evidence was heard Mr Cox said it was only reasonable that the appellant should have given the Board some prior idea of the grounds of appeal. He had been written to by the Manpower Committee but had not replied.

“He is not bound to do so, but it would have helped,” said Mr Orr Walker. He has the opportunity to do so now however.

To the chairman, appellant said his religious views were the only basis of appeal. There was no question of hardship. He was 26 years of age, single and a farm hand.

“I feel that was is entirely contrary to the spirit of the teachings of Christ,” he went on. “I cannot take part in it in any way, at any time, in any circumstances.”

The Chairman: How long have you held these views?

Witness: Seven and a half years. I belong to the Christian Assembly of Australia and New Zealand and I have a testimonial to say so.

The Chairman: How many are there in your district? – Four. We meet at each other’s place for prayer and the study of Christian teachings.

Testimonial Not Evidence

The chairman, after reading the testimonial, said it was not evidence, as the writer was not present to be placed on oath and cross-examined.

“How long has this been in existence?” he asked.

“From the beginning of time,” said appellant, who went on to state that the attitude taken up was that of the founder of Christianity. He said organised body to which he was attached was well established.

Mr Orr Walker said it appeared that a number of so called testimonials had been cyclostyled and the necessary names inserted later. It must be the intention to appeal for all those who held similar views.

“I am willing to do any work under civil control but will not do any work under military control, said appellant. “I am a farm hand or course and I don’t know if I am suitable for other work in civil life but I am quite willing to do my best.

Mr Orr Walker: Your duty is to convince this board that your convictions are sincerely held. Would you defend your country?

Appellant: No it would be wrong.

The Chairman: Can you justify this attitude?

“I can’t find anything in the Bible that would justify force, said appellant.

Mr Orr Walker: You know that there are many people who can. That does not mean in an aggressive way but in the interests of the lives and liberties of those dear to you.

Appellant: Jesus never took that attitude.

The Chairman. Do you believe the prophesies of the Bible to be correct? That is, that there will be wars and a final war when Christ will return and scatter His enemies? Would that not presume force of some kind?

Force Not Justified

Appellant said nothing could justify force or war in any circumstances. He understood it was a spiritual warfare that was meant in the Bible.

“Suppose that you were on a farm and that you saw the enemy coming to kill your mother and sister and burn your place down, said Mr McCready. “Would you defend your family?”

Appellant: No it would be against the will of God.

He went on to say that he would serve in an ambulance corps as long as it was not under military control.

Mr McCready: But we are all under some sort of control now.

Mr Samuel: Suppose everyone took up that attitude, how would the Empire get on?

Appellant: I don’t think there is any danger of everybody taking up that attitude.

“That’s not the point” said Mr Samuel. “It would let the enemy into the country if they did.

Appellant: Don’t you think that people in other countries would also have the same ideas in that case?

Mr Samuel: Suppose you were struck on one cheek. Would you turn the other cheek? – Yes

What would you do then? The same as Christ did.

Mr Cox: (For the Crown) If you wouldn’t serve in the Army Service Corps or the Ambulance Medical Corps would you serve as an auxiliary fireman?

Appellant: Yes, if I was not under military control.

Mr Cox: If you saw people being wounded by the enemy would you succour them? Yes, as an individual, or with a body not under military control.

Mr Cox: Would you be prepared to serve, for instance, at the Auckland hospital as a porter?

Appellant said he would, and in reply to further questions, said he would attend to soldiers and take orders from military officers as long as he himself was a free agent and a civilian.

Sect Defined

John Henry Gunson, a famer of Waiuku, who was called by appellant said he believed McConnell to be a sincere and conscientious believer of the sect to which witness also belonged. There were thousands of people in this organisation all over New Zealand and conventions were held in both islands. The preachers went out two by two, took no salary and had no homes. “There is not, I believe, such a body of preachers in the whole world,” said witness.

After the hearing of further evidence the board reserved its decision.

19450627 Auckland Star p6 Donaldson McConnell Monteith Hughes







The release of a military defaulter could not be ordered, except upon parole and subject to a defaulter entering into the undertakings prescribed by regulations, Mr. A. H. Johnston, K.C., emphasised to-day, when he began the review of military defaulters’ cases, sitting as the Revision Authority in St. Andrew’s Hall. The hearings are in public, with the Press in attendance.

Mr. Johnstone, at the opening of the sitting, stated in detail the functions and powers of the Revision Authority. “At the present time,” he said, “about 650 military defaulters are held in various detention camps throughout New Zealand. These defaulters are in detention because all of them have in some respect failed to comply with the provisions of the National Service Emergency Regulation, 1940, and the amendments from time to time made thereto.

“By Order-in-Council, dated June 6 last, a further amendment, the seventeenth in number, was made to these regulations and now forms part of the law of the land. By regulation 44C (1) of this amendment, it is provided that any defaulter may, from time to time, apply to the Director of National Service for release on parole from defaulter’s detention. By the same amendment provision is made for the appointment of Revision Authorities, each of whom, within the scope of his jurisdiction, is deemed to be a Commission of Inquiry under the Commissioners of Inquiry Act, 1908, and it is the duty of the director to transmit to a Revision Authority every application for release received by him, except where a defaulter is serving a sentence of imprisonment, or is absent without leave, or has escaped from camp.

“The revision Authority must then consider each application and after consideration may order: -

“(a) That the defaulter be released on parole either indefinitely or for a period to be specified in the order;

“(b) That the defaulter be released on parole as aforesaid subject to special supervision by the Controlling Officer of Detention;

“(c) That the application be deferred; or

“(d) That the application be refused.

“But the Revision Authority may not order the release of any defaulter unless he is satisfied that the defaulter holds a conscientious belief that would prevent his participation in war. He may, however, take into consideration the behaviour of the defaulter during the period of his detention.

In the Nature of an Appeal

“The proceedings before the Revision Authority in each case are plainly in the nature of an appeal from earlier orders on the ground of conscientious objection,” continued Mr. Johnstone. “They are judicial proceedings, in which the defaulter, and also a representative of the Crown, are entitled to be heard. Moreover, a defaulter may have the assistance of a barrister or solicitor or, with the leave of the Revision Authority, of any other person. The proceedings will be open to the public and the Press.

“It will be noticed that the Revision Authority has no jurisdiction to order the release of a defaulter except upon parole and subject to a defaulter entering into the undertakings prescribed by the Regulations. Forms of application have been supplied to every defaulter and a number of applications have been transmitted to me in my capacity of Revision Authority for consideration. I am no ready to hear them.”








Proceedings at the first sitting of the Revision Authority, Mr. A. H. Johnstone, K.C., to consider applications of conscientious objectors, now held in detention camps, for release on parole, took the form this morning of a searching inquiry into the religious and pacifist beliefs of the applicants.

There was evidence of a deep interest in proceedings in the attendance, as spectators, of over 100 members of the public.

Though there was some of the atmosphere of a Court in the arrangement of tables for those taking part, and the roping off of part of the room, proceedings generally were fairly informal, and in one case a member of the public, making a request from the body of the hall, was permitted to come forward and give evidence concerning a church attitude to pacifism. The only policeman present was stationed at the outside door of the hall, other officials from the detention camps being in civilian clothes. The representative of the Crown was Mr. Greenberg, director of the detention camps.

Only one of four applicants whose cases were heard to-day was represented by counsel, the others presenting written or verbal statements of their beliefs, and calling evidence as to their background and sincerity.

The cases heard were those of Baldwin E. Adams (Mr. Bond), Arthur Roy Donaldson, Reginald Charles Greaves and Douglas H. McConnell. Adams stated himself to be a member of the Church of Christ, and Greaves a member of the “Reformed” Seventh Day Adventist Church, while Donaldson and McConnell both claimed the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies as their spiritual guide.

Questions, Not Traps

Each of the applicants was informed at the outset to be at his ease during the hearing, that the object of the Authority’s inquiry was to find the truth, and that the questions to be asked were not set as traps to catch them. Then followed questions as to the length of church membership, the attitude of their Church to the question, the relation of their own attitude to that of their Church, their attitude to noncombatant service, particularly in the succour of wounded servicemen, and their willingness to take part in other aspects of the war effort, including the payment of the National Security Tax.

Adams, the first to be heard, said his Church left the question to individual conscience. He was strong still in his opposition to war and could see no reason to change his view.

Dealing with the cases of Donaldson and McConnell, Mr. Greenberg delved into the views of the Church of Christian Assemblies, from which he said, most of the detainees came. Each said that there was no definite attitude on the part of their organisation towards the question; it was left to individual conscience. They did not believe in war and thought that if all men took the same attitude there would be no war or violence. In a bombed-out city they would give succour to the injured, but not as members of a military organisation.

Mr. Thomas Monteith and Mr. William John Hughes, ministers of the “Fellowship,” admitted that 95 per cent of their “young men” had refused military service, but held that there was no special guidance on the question offered by the organisation.

Greaves, supported as witnesses by his brother, mother and a Bible teacher of the “Reformed” Seventh Day Adventist Church, blamed the “apostasy” of the “majority church” for the fact that originally he had been “misled” into accepting noncombatant service. When he learned that the Seventh Day Adventist Church “had departed from its original beliefs” he had refused further service. Eighteen months ago he had joined the “Reform Movement” which had about 200 members in Australia and New Zealand. The teachings of this church were against any military service. They would pay taxes under Scriptural injunction to “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s,” and took no responsibility for the use to which taxes were put.

In each case decision was reserved.

19450705 Evening Post p6 Willie Hughes Christian assemblies

Conscience and War

Ninety-seven percent of the men of military age associated with the religious organisation known as Christian Assemblies are against participation in the Armed Forces even in a non-combatant capacity, William John Hughes, senior minister in New Zealand for the Assemblies, told Mr. W. H. Woodward, S.M., No. 2 Revision Authority, yesterday, states “The Post’s” Palmerston North correspondent. “Yet,” added Mr. Hughes, “when the appeals of our men were originally heard, while only 5.8 per cent were allowed in one district, in another 55.5 percent were allowed. And I know of no difference in the sincerity or Christian character of all the appellants. It is an injustice.” Mr. Hughes said there was almost another grievance in that whereas the Quakers’ attitude towards war was accepted without question, the members of the Christian Assemblies had been put through a gruelling questioning to prove their point, when really there was no difference between the attitude of the two bodies, except that the Quakers adopted an anti-war attitude as a tenet of their faith whereas the Assemblies left it to the individual conscience which added up to 97 percent of the eligible male membership.

19450709 Auckland Star p6 Laurie Stockdale Willie Hughes Joe Hogan Godfrey Curran

Incident in Camp

An incident with which he had been connected while in detention was referred to during the hearing of an application by Edmund Laurence Stockdale. Mr. Greenberg mentioned the matter without revealing the nature of it, and later Mr. Johnstone asked applicant if he thought it was the conduct of a conscionable man.

Applicant: I admit I made a foolish mistake, but I meant no harm.

Applicant had previously said that as a member of the Christian Assemblies he did not go to pictures or dances, he did not drink, and had given up all worldly pleasures, as they would “crowd out” Christ if he indulged in them.

One of the three witnesses who he called was the Rev. William John Hughes, of the Christian Assemblies. Mr. Johnstone asked witness if members of the Fellowship would be exempt from weaknesses of the human flesh, to which witness replied: “No, we are all human.”

Mr. Greenberg said that apart from this incident Stockdale’s conduct had been good, as had that of most of the Christian Assemblies members.

Another witness, Joseph Stanley Hogan, builder, also a member of the Assemblies, said that the Fellowship did not interfere with young men’s consciences, and members were free to go to war or not, as they wished.

Christ and the Court

“It was a Court such as this which charged Christ and sentenced him to be crucified,” said another applicant, Godfrey Maurice John Curran, carpenter, of Tauranga, in answer to a question by Mr. Greenberg.

Mr. Greenberg: I wouldn’t say that.

Applicant: I would. I am being brought before the authorities of the country, as Christ was, to give reasons for my taking action that is contrary to the accepted law of the land and different from the ways of other men.

In answer to another question by Mr. Greenberg, as to whether applicant recognised that New Zealand had been menaced by a terrible foe in the past four or five years, applicant replied, “I cannot recognise that. I wouldn’t call them a foe. If it be God’s will that one country should be conquered by another, there is nothing we can do to save ourselves.”

Applicant, who conducted his own case, said he had belonged to the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies for between 10 and 14 years. He had given up a promising boxing career, also football, to serve Christ. His convictions were so strong he would be prepared to face a firing squad for them. He had come to hold his beliefs as a result of his upbringing in meagre circumstances, a home-life which was not congenial and a succession of “bitter circumstances” which had made him feel that the life he was living was not all it could be to him.


19450710 Auckland Star p6 Willie Hughes Christian Assemblies James Boyers Tom Monteith Ian Browne







A complaint against the difference in treatment accorded the Quaker and Christadelphian faiths as against that accorded the Fellowship of Christian Assemblies, was made by the Rev. William John Hughes, when giving witness before the No. 1 Revision Authority, Mr. A. H. Johnstone, K.C., this morning, during the hearing of an application for release from detention by James Crawford Boyers.

“As a body, the Christian Assemblies Fellowship has been referred to quite a lot this morning,” he said. “As I have pointed out before, the Quakers and Christadelphians who appeared before Appeal Boards had only to prove genuine membership of those bodies to be exempted from war. I feel our Fellowship has not been treated fairly by the Appeal Boards. I can’t understand why an individual professing conscientious beliefs should be treated differently from a member of a body which has adopted those beliefs as a tenet of its faith.

“Our Fellowship does not preach against war, and we are anxious to do all we can to help. If an emergency had arisen in New Zealand, we should have taken part in fire-fighting and other duties.”

Mr. Johnstone: Whatever your teaching, it has resulted in 97 per cent of your young men refusing to go to war.

Witness: the teaching of the Quakers and Christadelphians has resulted in almost 100 per cent of their members being exempted from war. That is where we differ. We believe in the freedom of the individual conscience, and feel that a man is much more likely to be genuine in his beliefs if they have not been created by a religious organisation. I would like to remove the reflection that has been case on our body.

Mr. Johnstone: I can’t answer your complaint. My duty is to examine the depth of the conscientious beliefs of applicants, no matter to what body they may or may not belong.

During the course of the hearing Mr. Greenberg said he had suggested last year to members of the Christian Assemblies in detention that they should offer themselves to the Government to go into the jungles of the Pacific and look after the natives, or help our men in any way, under civilian control. They had all refused.

In stating his case, Boyers, a dairy farmer, of Ruatangata, Whangarei said his conscientious objection to war had grown out of his concern over his spiritual welfare some years ago and his subsequent renouncing of worldly pleasures to follow Christ. He had at one state offered himself as a medical orderly for one of the leper colonies, but had afterwards come to believe that God was more interested in the healing of the soul than of the body.

Test Of Sincerity

Mr. Greenberg asked one of his witnesses, the Rev. Thomas Joseph Monteith, a minister in the Christian Assemblies, what would be the test of the sincerity of a member of the Fellowship. “Would it merely be attendance at Fellowship conventions, gatherings and all those goody-goody things?”

Witness: I’d expect to see the fruits of the Christian spirit manifest in the man’s life.

Mr. Greenberg: But wouldn’t such a man choose hardship, suffering, an opportunity to show love and mercy towards his fellow-men? Here are people who have refused to do all that in this war; people who are sheltering.

Witness: No, they are not sheltering. They would be willing to do any essential work.

Two further applications for release were heard yesterday afternoon, the defaulters being Ian Douglas Browne, aged 27, a chiropractor, and a member of the Christian Assemblies, and Albert Felix Benson, a master carrier, of Christchurch, who belonged to the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Both based their convictions on religious grounds.

Decisions were reserved in all cases.

19450717 Auckland Star p4 Colin Osbaldiston Will Finnemore







A statement that all men in defaulters’ camps and those transferred to prison were willing to assist in wartime, despite public statements to the contrary, was made by Raymond Firmston, formerly of New Plymouth, in appealing for his release from detention camp before the No. 1 Revision Authority, Mr. A. H. Johnstone, K.C., this morning. He suggested that conscientious objectors should be registered. If this were done, he said, objectors would be able to show their integrity, instead of being segregated from society.

The applicant said that many years before the present war he had reached the point of view that wars were wrong, futile and destructive alike of the victor and vanquished. He belonged to no religious body. He was a humanitarian and to do good was his religion. He was prepared to assist in distressed areas in times of floods and earthquakes.

In reply to Mr. Greenberg, Crown representative, the appellant said that he did not appear before an appeal Board when called up in 1940, as he considered that no board had a right to judge a man’s conscience. He now realized that he should have sent in a statement that he would not appear, but was willing to assist in a civilian capacity. His thoughts on war were aroused in 1928 when he saw the “horror films” at meetings convened by Mr. Semple. He denied that he suffered from a fear complex, and said that, if he believed it right to take up arms he would be at the front to-morrow. Decision was reserved.

“Gave Up Pleasures”

“I decided to give up the pleasures of the world and follow in the footsteps of the Master,” said Colin Kelso Osbaldiston, sharemilker, formerly of Riverhead, in describing his religious experiences in support of his application for release from detention camp.

On behalf of appellant, Mr. Wallace said that in 1939, when 25 years of age, Osbaldiston, a motor truck driver in the Riverhead district, met his wife and through her became interested in the Christian Assembly. As a result of his membership of the assembly and his objection to war, he lost his employment as a truck driver and later became a sharemilker. When war broke out he felt that he could not bring himself to undergo military service. He was sent to a detention camp and on one occasion he walked out of it in order to see his wife and was absent for four hours.

In a statement of his beliefs, Osbaldiston said that he was prepared to continue in the stand he had taken. He regretted very much his action in breaking out of camp.

Cross-examined by Mr. Greenberg, Crown representative, as to why he had taken the stand he did, appellant said that if he had not he would not be able to inherit the Eternal Kingdom which he was seeking.

Mr. Greenberg: What do you mean by Eternal Kingdom?

Applicant: By our life here we get into the Kingdom. That’s what I am trying to do.

Mr. Greenberg: Having made up your mind you mean to continue adamant? – The natural inclination would be to go to war.

Don’t you follow your natural inclinations? – They do get the better of me sometimes.

With others you broke out of camp. Would I be strictly correct in saying that you would be following human instricts? (sic) – That is so.

You broke through barbed wire, got past the guard and walked through fog. You must have had a pretty strong urge of human instinct on that occasion. Did it ever occur to you that in going to war you were responding to human instinct? – No.

“Human instinct in you doesn’t work in that direction,” commented Mr. Greenberg.

Further questioned, appellant denied that he had endeavored to build a strong fortress around himself in order to escape the war. In reply to the Authority he said that he based his opinions upon the injunctions of the Bible, not to kill and to love one’s enemies.

The Authority: Do you love your enemies? – I certainly don’t hate them.

That is not what I asked you. – I love everybody I can. I don’t wish them any harm.

Can you say honestly that you have any real love for the Japanese at the present time? -- I can’t answer that in the abstract without seeing the people.

After hearing corroborative evidence regarding the sincerity of applicant’s religious beliefs, the Authority reserved his decision.

“No Selfish Motive.”

“Why do members of the Christian Assembly all want to get back to their own farms? Is there no call of the Cross challenging them in this crisis?” asked Mr. Greenberg when William John Finnemore, a farmer, formerly of Napier, and a member of the assembly, applied for his release.

Appellant said that he was not desirous of returning to his farm from any selfish motive. He was willing to do anything for the community in a civilian capacity and he thought that he could best serve it by resuming his occupation as a farmer.

“You believe in the New Testament,” said Mr. Greenberg, “have you sold everything you have and given the money to the poor?”

“I have not much to give,” replied appellant. He denied that his philosophy was one of saving his own skin.

A brother of the appellant said that he and two other brothers had served with the Forces. They were not of the appellant’s faith, but they respected the stand he had taken.

Decision was reserved.

19450803 Auckland Star p6 Norm Muldoon Matt Frost et al

Objection Based on Scriptures

Norman Leslie Muldoon, aged 21, formerly a blacksmith’s apprentice, of Christchurch, said his parents belonged to the Christian Assembly and meetings were held at their home. At the age of 14 applicant “made open profession.” His objection to war was based on the Scriptures.

Referring to applicant taking the proceeds of the sale of some rabbits, trapped with the permission of the camp supervisor and sold through a member of the staff, applicant said he did not realize he was breaking the camp rules until such was pointed out to him. Mr. Greenberg said he would be calling a witness on this point and after other evidence had been given the case was adjourned until the Crown witness is available.

“Like Helping Bank Robber”

Non-combatant service was likened to holding a first-aid kit for a bank robber by Matthew Johnson Frost, formerly a farmer, of Waitakere. Applicant, who said he was an active member of the Christian Assembly, made his application on religious grounds.

“Social objection to war” was the basis of the application of Leonard Bowden Suttie, aged 39, formerly a newspaper delivery worker, of Christchurch. Applicant said he was brought up in the Presbyterian Church, but left at the age of about 11 years.

The Authority: Were the sermons a bit long?

Applicant: I was working on Sundays on a milk round.

Evidence was given by applicant as to his pacifist activities. These included assisting at an anti-war meeting, at which one of the speakers was a man who was now a Cabinet member collecting signatures for a petition to the world disarmament conference and distributing pacifist pamphlets at a local meeting held to stimulate interest in defence. He put in an affidavit confirming that he had given liberally of his time and money to pacifist organisations.

The case was adjourned until this afternoon.

Decisions Given

Reserved decisions were given by the No. 1 Revision Authority, Mr. A H. Johnstone, K.C., yesterday as follows: --

Released on parole. – Howard Leith Arnold, Te Puke, French polisher; Ian Douglas Browne, Takapuna, chiropractor; John Stanley Byers, Piha, apiarist; Ivor Lawrence Cullen, of Auckland, farmer; Godfrey Maurice John Curran, Tauranga, carpenter; Frederick Henry Harrison, Avondale, hospital worker; James Horace Langman, New Plymouth, labourer; David Stanley McCarthey, Te Puke, farm hand; Malcolm Knight McKenzie, Matamata, carpenter; Frederick Horace Phillips, Waitara, farmer.

Applications refused. – Leslie George Batten, Onehunga, theatre employee; Mervyn Stanley Bergesen, Ohakune, gardener; Kenneth Sydney Billings, Mount Albert, electrician; Cyril Edgar Chievers, Onehunga, factory hand; Ronald Albert Chievers, Onehunga, factory worker; John Drysdale, Dunedin, painter; Daniel David Erceg, Te Kopuru, farmer; Derrick Corbett Hancock, St. Albans, nurseryman; Hubert Keith Harmish, Mount Albert, tractor driver,; Harold Watts Alfred McCarthy, Auckland, waterside; Mervyn Langstone Needham, Herne Bay, electrician; Roden George William Oakes, Hawera, cheeseman; Colin Kelso Osbaldiston, Riverhead, share milker; Hugh Allen Parker, Taupaki, farmer; Bert Powell, Gisborne, fireman; Eric Clifford Prouse, Devonport, labourer; Robert Allen Quigg, farmer, Waihi; Arthur Colin Rau, Manurewa, canister maker; Alfred Owen Richards, Thames, gardener; Noel Birrell Sly, Papatoetoe, clerk; Ivan Arthur Thomas Ward, Stratford, carpenter; Frederick Yates, Trentham, bricklayer.