Hacksaw Ridge shows triumph of conscience

By Brian Koonce

I have never been in the military. In fact, the most I can say is that I am a veteran of many a war movie. But Hacksaw Ridge, just like the Pacific campaign in World War II, is a whole ‘nother (movie) theater of war.

What makes it different is that its real-life hero, Desmond Doss, is a conscientious objector (“I like to think of myself as more of a conscientious cooperator,” he tells his commanding officer) and feels bound by God never to touch a weapon. Doss is a patriot who takes the bombing of Pearl Harbor personally, yet as a devout Seventh Day Adventist, he seeks to honor his commitment to the Lord and his interpretation of “thou shalt not kill.” This places him in a unique position: caught between his role as an American who loves his country and believer who would rather be court martialed and sent to Leavenworth than act contrary to God’s will for his life. The movie version of Doss (Andrew Garfield), just like the actual man, was beaten, ridiculed, punished and called a coward because of his beliefs. You may not fully agree with his theology, but Doss is far from a coward.

It’s not a stretch to see a parallel between modern American Christians’ and Doss’s situations. Thanks to laws and a Constitution that protect religious expression and exercise, military officials reluctantly determined that freedom of conscience can trump a direct order to pick up a rifle and fire. Likewise, the First Amendment and other religious liberty statutes should be seen as absolute protection for Christians’ beliefs and religious exercise, even as we gladly live out American ideals in commerce and the public square without even a hint of compromise…


Movie Review ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ shows triumph of conscience