individual who refuses to do something on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion
(Redirected from Conscientious objection)
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- An order issued March 6, 1918, directed that a psychological examination should be made of all conscientious objectors. This examination, as usually conducted, covered a wide range, and was intended to reach into the utmost recesses of the objector’s mind. The objector was given a rating psychologically, and any inconsistencies in his testimony were noted, and submitted to the Board upon its visitation.
- Walter Guest Kellogg, "The Conscientious Objector" p.30 (1919).
- A soldier of the civil authority must be taught not to kill men and to refuse to do so if he is commanded. ... If he is unwilling to comply, he must be rejected. A military commander ... must resign or be rejected. If a catechumen or a believer seeks to become a soldier, they must be rejected, for they have despised God.
- The Conference affirms that war as a method of settling international disputes is incompatible with the teaching and example of our Lord Jesus Christ.
- "Lambeth Conference of 1930", Resolution 25.
- They would choose to die rather than kill someone. Consequently, I am sure if only Jehovah’s Witnesses lived on the earth then wars would not break out anywhere.
- Ring magazine (Hungary), (1992) November 4
- The denomination of Christians calling themselves Seventh-day Adventists, taking the Bible as their rule of faith and practice, are unanimous in their views that its teaching are contrary to the spirit and practice of war; hence, they have ever been conscientiously opposed to bearing arms.
- F.M. Wilcox, Seventh-day Adventists in Time of War, p. 58.
- Do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven.
- Gospel of Thomas, verse 6
- “Religious Training and/or belief: Belief in an external power or ‘being’ or deeply held moral or ethical belief, to which all else is subordinate or upon which all else is ultimately dependent, and which has the power or force to affect moral well-being. The external power or ‘being’ need not be one that has found expression in either religious or societal traditions. However, it should sincerely occupy a place of equal or greater value in the life of its possessor. Deeply held moral or ethical beliefs should be valued with the strength and devotion of traditional religious conviction. The term ‘religious training and/or belief’ may include solely moral or ethical beliefs even though the applicant may not characterize these beliefs as ‘religious’ in the traditional sense, or may expressly characterize them as not religious. The term ‘religious training and/or belief’ does not include a belief that rests solely upon considerations of policy, pragmatism, expediency, or political views.”
- U.S. DEP’T OF DEF., INSTRUCTION NO. 1300.06 (May 5, 2007) at 2
- I assure you very explicitly, that in my opinion the conscientious scruples of all men should be treated with great delicacy . . . it is my wish and desire, that the laws may always be extensively accommodated to them, as a due regard to the protection and essential interests of the nation may justify and permit.
- Letter from George Washington to the Religious Society Called Quakers (Oct. 1789), in GEORGE WASHINGTON ON RELIGIOUS LIBERTY AND MUTUAL UNDERSTANDING 11, 11 (Edward Frank Humphrey ed., 1932).
- The courts properly decided that if government says that one religious tradition—Amish, Quaker, or Mennonites—is a valid religious basis for being a conscientious objector, but that some other religion is not a valid religion for being a conscientious objector, that decision constitutes backhandedly an establishment of religion, which the U. S. Constitution prohibits.
- John Howard Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution, p. 343
- Lutherans and Catholics began to say that they have a right to equal protection before the law for their ethical teachings. They argued: "If a Quaker says, 'I cannot go to any war,' he is doing what his church tells him to do. If a Catholic says, 'I could go to a good war but not a bad one,' he is doing what his Church tells him to do. Why does the government make provision for the Mennonite who follows his church's teaching but not for the Catholic who does?” Logically, that is a valid argument, but it is not valid in American law.
- John Howard Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution, p. 343
“The Constitutional Right Not to Kill” (2012) edit
Mark L. Rienzi, [https://scholarlycommons.law.emory.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1244&context=elj “The Constitutional Right Not to Kill”, Emory Law Journal, Volume 62, Issue 1, 2012
- [T]he nation’s history of military draft laws shows an ongoing effort to find ways to accommodate at least some individuals who object to being forced to kill. That protection has never been complete or absolute. But the overall arc of this history shows a longstanding effort to protect conscientious objectors to military service, with steadily broader protections being introduced over time.
- Many early American state constitutions and conscription statutes contained conscience-protection clauses for at least some religious objectors. These protections varied: many were limited to members of particular religious denominations, and many required objectors to pay a fee considered “equivalent” to personal service in the military.
New York, for example, exempted Quakers from having to bear arms based on “[s]cruples of con[s]cience” so long as they gave “the State [s]uch [s]um[s] of money, in lieu of their per[s]onal [s]ervice, as the [s]ame may, in the judgment of the legi[s]lature, be worth.”
Pennsylvania likewise required conscientious objectors to pay a tax or fine to support the military effort, which was often called an “equivalent” to military service.
Pennsylvania’s protection for objectors was very broad in some respects. For example, Pennsylvania went so far as to even exempt government employees from compiling lists of persons eligible for military service if the employee’s refusal to do so “proceed[ed] from conscientious motives.” Rhode Island provided perhaps the broadest protection for any conscientious objector:
Noe person nor persons [within this colony], that is or hereafter shall be persuaded in his, their conscience, or consciences [and by him or them declared], that he nor they cannot nor ought not to trayne, to learned to fight, nor to war, nor kill any person or persons . . . nor shall suffer any punishment, fine, distraint, penalty nor imprisonment.
With this language, Rhode Island extended the exemption beyond members of particular religious groups and eliminated even the common requirement of having to pay for an equivalent.
- While many colonial and state governments protected a right of conscientious objection to military service, efforts to expressly include such a provision in the Federal Constitution failed. Early drafts of the Second Amendment stated that “no person religiously scrupulous shall be compelled to bear arms.” While this proposed amendment was approved by the required two-thirds supermajority in the House, the Senate rejected this language, and our current Second Amendment is silent on the issue.
- The development of federal conscientious objector laws began with the Civil War. As the Supreme Court explained in United States v. Seeger, the Federal Militia Act of 1862 left control of conscription primarily to the states. However, pursuant to General Order No. 99, later enacted as the Federal Conscription Act of 1863, the federal government struck “from the conscription list those who were exempted by the States.” The federal system also “established a commutation or substitution system fashioned from earlier state enactments.”
This reliance on state conscientious objector laws ended with the Federal Conscription Act of 1863. At that point “the Federal Government occupied the field entirely.” In the 1864 Draft Act, the federal government directly “extended exemptions to those conscientious objectors who were members of religious denominations opposed to the bearing of arms and who were prohibited from doing so by the articles of faith of their denominations.” Additionally, an exemption from combat may not have been an exemption from aiding the war effort entirely. The Draft Act instead provided that bona fide conscientious objectors would “be assigned by the Secretary of War to duty in the hospitals, or to the care of freedman.” An objector could obtain relief from military service altogether only if he agreed to pay the government a fee that would assist wounded soldiers.
- When the federal government instituted a draft again in World War I, the provisions governing conscientious objectors largely tracked the 1864 Draft Act. Yet the law encountered criticism for not accommodating “individual objectors,” that is, those without ties to an organized religion. President Woodrow Wilson accordingly issued an Executive Order that guided the Act’s implementation to apply equally to “other conscientious scruples” along with religious objectors.
- The Selective Service Act allowed an individual to base a conscientious objection on “religious training and belief,” which the Act defined as “an individual’s belief in a relation to a Supreme Being involving duties superior to those arising from any human relation, but does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views or a merely personal moral code.” The Act required that the objector be “conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.”
Over time, the Court interpreted the Selective Service Act of 1940 to broaden the definition of “religious training and belief.” For example, in United States v. Seeger, the Court considered Congress’s choice to “deliberately broaden” the scope of objections by allowing individuals to reference a “Supreme Being” rather than “God” as their source of objection in the Selective Service Act. After reviewing the statutory developments under the Act, the Court stated a broad test for conscientious objection, which includes not only religious objections but also moral and ethical objections:
A sincere and meaningful belief which occupies in the life of its possessor a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption comes within the statutory definition. This construction avoids imputing to Congress an intent to classify different religious beliefs, exempting some and excluding others, and is in accord with the well-established congressional policy of equal treatment for those whose opposition to service is grounded in their religious tenets.
The Seeger Court recognized that the exemption provision needed to “deal with the beliefs of different individuals who will articulate them in a multitude of ways,” and focused its test simply on the sincerity of the individual’s conscientious objection.
Even this broadened approach to conscientious objection remains focused on individuals who are opposed to participating in any war, as opposed to those who are opposed to participating in a particular war. This leaves certain people who have moral objections to participation in particular wars—for example, someone who subscribes to “just war theory,” which condemns some, but not other, wars—without protection.
- Under current Department of Defense guidelines, a conscientious objector is someone who has “[a] firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, by reason of religious training and/or belief.” The guidelines define “religious training and/or belief” as including not only traditional religious views, but also “solely moral or ethical beliefs even though the applicant may not characterize these beliefs as ‘religious’ in the traditional sense.”
The guidelines also allow for two different types of objectors: those for whom non-combatant participation in the military effort is morally permissible and those who have conscience-based objections to any type of support for the military. Objectors “whose convictions are such as to permit military service in a non-combatant status” may be assigned to such service; those who “sincerely object to participation in military service of any kind” are eligible for discharge.
- Despite the breadth of the modern conscientious objector regulations, they continue to limit the availability of the exemption to those who selectively object to participation in particular wars. According to the Department of Defense, “An individual who desires to choose the war in which he or she will participate is not a Conscientious Objector under the law. The individual’s objection must be to all wars rather than a specific war.” To date, the Supreme Court has always treated conscientious objector provisions in the military context as matters of legislative grace rather than constitutional entitlement.
- See, e.g., Hamilton v. Regents of the Univ. of Cal., 293 U.S. 245, 264 (1934) (“The conscientious objector is relieved from the obligation to bear arms in obedience to no constitutional provision, express or implied; but because, and only because, it has accorded with the policy of Congress thus to relieve him.”); United States v. Macintosh, 283 U.S. 605, 624 (1931) (rejecting claim of constitutional right to refrain from military service based on the “well-nigh limitless extent of the war powers”), abrogated in part by Girouard v. United States, 328 U.S. 61 (1946). Lower courts have largely, though not completely, followed this trend. See United States v. Burns, 450 F.2d 44, 46 (10th Cir. 1971); United States v. Boardman, 419 F.2d 110, 112 (1st Cir. 1969); United States v. Crouch, 415 F.2d 425, 430 (5th Cir. 1969); Korte v. United States, 260 F.2d 633, 635 (9th Cir. 1958) (“It is well settled that exemption from military service is a matter of legislative grace and not a matter of right.”
- Footnote 61, p.136