Seeking Truth about War

A professor and student are preparing to delve into the complex, often murky, ethical issues associated with war: What constitutes a "just war?" What is a soldier's duty as a human being? In what situations is killing right?

Kelly Denton-Borhaug, associate professor of religion, and James Lavoy '10, a political science and social theory major, will participate in the first Truth Commission on Conscience in War in New York City on March 21-22. After hearing testimony from recent veterans, religious leaders, ethicists, and legal experts, the Commission will compile a report that will be delivered on Veterans' Day this November.

"The purpose of the Commission is to make more visible the ethical quandaries faced by members of the military and to raise public awareness about the dangerous, painful, and destructive situations they often face," explained Professor Denton-Borhaug. 

The list of distinguished Commissioners includes many of the country's leading theologians, ethicists, and veterans' advocates. Dr. Denton-Borhaug's participation follows her longstanding research on U.S. war culture and sacrifice, which she explores in her forthcoming book, U.S. War-culture, Sacrifice and Salvation, to be published later this year through Equinox Publishing House. 

"I'm incredibly excited to be doing hard work alongside the theologians and thinkers who have been my role models for some time," said Jim Lavoy '10.

Although still a Moravian undergraduate, Jim Lavoy is enrolled in a long-distance, graduate-level class that is helping to organize the event and will serve as the primary writers of the report. Jim, who will attend Moravian Theological Seminary this fall, hopes to be a Moravian minister. "I'm incredibly excited to be doing hard work alongside these theologians and thinkers who have been my role models for some time," he said. "I hope that I can learn what motivates them, and how to do what they do."

The public is invited to attend the March 21 hearing, when the documentary Soldiers of Conscience will be shown and experts will provide background information. Commissioners and testifiers will meet in a private session on March 22 to discuss the public hearing testimony and identify strategies for pursuing the goals of the Commission. Later this spring, Soldiers of Conscience will be shown on the Moravian campus, and an open forum will follow.

The Moravian College United Student Government contributed funds to support Moravian's involvement with the Commission; the Moravian Theological Seminary student government also has been invited to participate. The Commission is organized by Faith Voices for the Common Good, Luna Productions, The Mission and Social Justice Commission of The Riverside Church, Starr King School for the Ministry, and Union Theological Seminary.