Conscientious Objection

What is Conscientious Objection?
Generally, conscientious objection is a sincere conviction, motivated by conscience, which forbids someone from taking part in organized killing. This objection may apply to all forms or to particular aspects of war.

Is there a draft on the horizon?

We certainly all hope a draft is never again called for. No matter what our beliefs on the morality of war, it's certain that a military draft is a last option-those opposed to war in general or to a specific war do not relish the idea of being forced to participate in war, and those in agreement generally do not desire to have people involved who are not 100 percent committed to the cause.

There has always been speculation about the likelihood of a military draft being reinstated. No matter what happens, it is always a good time to really think and ponder what you believe Jesus to be calling you to do regarding violence and war. How does Christ call you to love your enemies? Would Christ ever command you to kill another human being? If your prayer and thinking leads you to conscientious objection from war and violence, please make use of the resources available on this site, fill out a Christian Peacemaker Registration form and put it on file with your church.

Types of Conscientious Objectors Recognized by the Military:

  1. Conscientious Objectors: These are persons who, by reason of religious, ethical, or moral belief, are “conscientiously opposed to participation in war in any form.” If called up, these people may perform alternate service as civilians.
  2. Noncombatant Conscientious Objectors: These are people who, by reason of religious, ethical, or moral belief, are conscientiously opposed to killing in war in any form but who do not object to performing noncombatant duties (such as being a medic) in the armed forces. In the event of a draft, these people are trained without weapons and assigned to noncombatant service.

Other Types of CO’s not Recognized by Federal Law:

  1. War Tax Objectors
  2. Selective Objectors (Object to wars considered “unjust”)
  3. Nuclear Pacifists
  4. Non-Cooperators with the Draft

What about Women?
While women are currently not required to register for the draft, if the draft were reinstated, it is possible women would be included in the draft. Therefore, it is important for women, as well as men, to consider what they believe about war.

On Registering as a CO:
Registering as a CO when you turn 18 DOES NOT MEAN THAT SELECTIVE SERVICE WILL TAKE NOTE OF YOUR BELIEFS NOW. Selective Service destroys the original registration cards after they are microfilmed, and conscientious objectors who have placed any such notice on the registration card will still have to request the CO classification if they receive induction notices. The initial claim is made on Form 9, and the claim is documented on Form 22.

Nonetheless, registering as a CO and documenting one’s position as a CO at the time of registration is crucial. In the event of a draft, if one claims to be a CO but has not documented their position as a CO, they may not be taken seriously.

On Choosing Non-Registration:
Hundreds of thousands of men have refused to register, despite the threat of possible prosecution. Twenty, a very small percentage, have been prosecuted. (There have been no prosecutions since 1985). Still, non-registrants should be prepared to be prosecuted, and if indicted should quickly find an attorney specializing in draft law. Even without prosecution, non-registrants will automatically forego certain government student aid, training and employment possibilities. Several states bar non-registrants from attending state colleges and universities.

Other Conscientious Objection Resources: