July 2011 was the seventh consecutive year that the Chicago Chapter of the Fellowship of Reconciliation exhibited in the main merchandise tents at the Cornerstone Music Festival.
At times, this message of peace and nonviolence was not received well. Accusations from festival-goers to I Will NOTKill advocate Sam Smith that his advocacy of nonviolence made him a terrorist, equal to or surpassing of the 9/11 terrorists — together with one festival-goer’s statement that organizations such as the Fellowship of Reconciliation are tremendously naive because “Some people just need killing!” — were hard to hear.
At other times, teenagers ran breathlessly into the exhibit tent, coming to the I Will NOT Kill display and stating that they agreed with the I Will NOT KillStatement….. and had never realized before that a Christian could actually be a pacifist and still be in line with the teachings of the Bible.
FOR Chicago Chapter chairperson, Rev. Sam Smith, began this work of love back at Cornerstone 2005. Up until then, representatives of “Peace Theology” were far and few in between at the gigantic, predominately evangelical Christian GODSTOCK which began in 1984. Rev. Smith, a long time attender at Cornerstone, was disturbed for years by the prominent display of “Dominion Theology” as exemplified by Christian music bands who seemed to glorify themes of “Christian” violence through their band names, t-shirt graphics, and song lyrics. Rev. Smith felt called to represent the under-heard voice of Christian Pacifism through FOR’s I Will NOT Kill campaign.
The link to the I Will NOT Kill video, which is a Different Drummers Production shot and aired at CBS Channel 2 Chicago, can be found here: http://vimeo.com/35254239. In the video, Rev. Sam Smith and his daughter, Lia Smith, now a junior at Wheaton College, share their experiences of offering Cornerstone Christian Music Festival-Goers a chance to sign the pledge NOT To Kill.
In July of 2012, FOR Chicago will be at it again: Spreading the GOOD NEWS OF ACTIVENONVIOLENCE. This will be YEAR EIGHT.
For the most part, these I Will NOT Kill efforts have been funded and/or staffed by the FOR Chicago Chapter, the West Suburban Faith-based PEACE Coalition (Western Suburbs of Chicago), Chicago AFSC, the Lombard Mennonite Peace Center, and the Upper Xtreme Fellowship. (FYI…for many years Rev. Smith has funded the majority of this project out of his own pocket….. and being that he has been either underemployed or unemployed for most of this time, anyone wishing to donate to this ongoing projectshould contact Rev. Sam Smith at FORchicago@Comcast.Net.)
We’ve averaged 75 young people every year signing the I WILL NOT KILL Statement. (WHICH Is The FIRST STEP In Documenting Conscientious Objection…)
I WILL NOT KILL
I Will Not Go To War.
I Will Not Support War Against Other Nations.
I Will Resist Recruitment Into The Military.
I Will Encourage Others To Do The Same.