The Common Good
February 2011

Resources on Selective Conscientious Objection

by Claire Lorentzen | February 2011

Current regulations (Instruction 1300.6 for the Department of Defense) are clear that conscientious ...

Current regulations (Instruction 1300.6 for the Department of Defense) are clear that conscientious objector status (or “CO status”) is to be granted only to those individuals who object to “participation in war in any form.” Therefore, conscientious objection, as it is currently acknowledged by the Department of Defense, is reserved to those who identify as strict pacifists. An important caveat is that one’s reason may be based on moral or ethical reasoning as well as religious training or belief. Selective objection, wherein a service member objects not to the idea of warfare as a whole but to particular wars, is not yet recognized.

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Here is a comprehensive list of websites, books, films, and church statements which provide information and resources about conscientious objection, military counseling, the Truth Commission on Conscience in War, alternatives to the military, and more.

WEBSITES:

Center on Conscience & War (NISBCO) is a nonprofit service agency sponsored by a broad association of religious bodies who join to protect, defend, and extend the rights of conscientious objectors.

The GI Rights Hotline is a service of the GI Rights Network. This is a nongovernmental network providing free, confidential, counseling to members of the armed forces. Phone: 1-877-447-4487.

American Friends Service Committee Youth and Militarism Program provides resources about the military and its impact on young people. The program supports local organizing campaigns to counter militarism in schools.

Central Committee for Conscientious Objectors (CCCO) supports conscientious objectors and promotes individual and collective resistance to war and preparations for war.

Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Support Network provides many resources and ideas for studying peace, including stories, worship materials, faith statements, curricula, and more.

Conscientious Objection - PAX Christi USA gives information and resources prepared especially for Catholics by PAX Christi USA.

Iraq Veterans Against the War hopes, through its numerous chapters of participants throughout the U.S., to "mobilize the military community" to call for the end of war in Iraq.

Courage to Resist is a community of veterans, military families and other individuals whose activities include reaching out to troops, individuals, building support networks, promoting "People Power" anti-war strategies and public protests in support of conscientious objection to war.

Truth Commission on Conscience in War gathered in Washington, D.C. in November and is a coalition of 60 army veterans and anti-war groups who are working towards persuading Congress to enact legislation that would provide the legal right to selective conscientious objection

CBS Report on Veteran Suicides: A five month investigation which found that vets "were more than twice as likely to take their own lives than Americans who never served. "

Ferus Theology Blog is Logan Laituri's personal blog which provides a bibliography of resources used for his Sojourners' article, information on the Truth Commission for Conscience in War, as well as many other articles and resources in support of selective conscientious objection.

BOOKS:

Will to Resist: Soldiers who refuse to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan by Dahr Jamail (Haymarket Books, 2011).

Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent by Marjorie Cohn (Polipoint Press, 2009).

Army of None: Strategies to Counter Military Recruitment, End War, and Build a Better World by David Solnit and Aimee Allison (Seven Stories Press, 2007).

Dissent: Voices of Conscience, Government Insiders Speak Out Against the War in Iraq :by Ann Wright and Susan Dixon (Kora Books, 2008).

Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Staff Sergeant Mejia: An Iraq War Memoir by Camilo Mejia with a foreword by Chris Hedges (Haymarket Books, 2008)

Breaking Ranks: Iraq Veterans Speak Out Against the War by Matthew Guttmann and Catherine Lutz (University of California, 2010).

Winter Soldier: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupations by Aaron Glantz with forward by Anthony Swofford (Haymarket Books, 2008).

FILMS:

Soldiers of Conscience (2008) gives us "a dramatic window on the dilemma of individual U.S. soldiers in the current Iraq War – when their finger is on the trigger and another human being is in their gun-sight. Made with cooperation from the U.S. Army and narrated by Peter Coyote, the film profiles eight American soldiers, including four who decide not to kill, and become conscientious objectors; and four who believe in their duty to kill if necessary."

Sir! No Sir!: The Suppressed Story of the GI movement to End the War in Vietnam (2006) "vividly demonstrates that GIs were the heart and soul of the anti-war movement. Poignantly narrated by a diverse cast of veteran GI resisters who recall the ferocious days of peace marches and stiff jail sentences."

Deserter (2010) is "set in 1944 Belarus during World War II. This is the story of a German soldier who deserts the army in the hope of going home before being completely dehumanized by war. Forming an unlikely friendship with an orphaned Russian boy soldier he refuses to execute, he goes on the run and an act of self-sacrifice leads to his ultimate redemption."

Arlington West (2006) "An ocean of over 4,000 crosses swells across the sand beside the Santa Monica Pier every Sunday, erected faithfully by Veterans For Peace. Conversations recorded here display the entire spectrum of viewpoints about how our own military is currently feeling before and after being in the combat zone, and how our military families are handling the greatest loss, a child killed in war. It is a tribute to our fallen U.S. soldiers."

GOD'S POLITICS BLOGS BY LOGAN LAITURI:

The Truth and Conscience in War God's Politics Blog Series focuses on topics and issues that pertain to selective conscientious objection. Blog titles include:

  1. "Preaching on Truth and Conscience"
  2. "Veterans’ Suicides and Selective Conscientious Objection"
  3. "Moral Agency and Selective Conscientious Objection"
  4. "The Right to Act in Conscience"
  5. "Securing Soldiers’ Rights to Selective Conscientious Objection"

More than 20 other God's Politics Blogs have been written by Logan Laituri, which include:

  1. "Wikileaks, Truth Tellers, and a Crisis of Conscience"
  2. "Why Christianity and July 4th May Be Compatible"
  3. "Video of Civilian Deaths in Iraq and America’s Culture of Violence"
  4. "Reinvigorating the Discourse on Just War and Pacifism"
  5. "The Sad State of Dialogue on Civil Unions"

CHURCH STATEMENTS:

Below is a list of church statements and websites in support of conscientious objection:

PAX Christi USA: The National Catholic Peace Movement

Catholic Peace Fellowship

Community of Christ

Methodist Peace Fellowship

Presbyterian Peace Fellowship

Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America

Lutheran Peace Fellowship


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