conscientious objector

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conscientious objector,

person who, on the grounds of conscience, resists the authority of the state to compel military service. Such resistance, emerging in time of war, may be based on membership in a pacifistic religious sect, such as the Society of FriendsFriends, Religious Society of,
religious body originating in England in the middle of the 17th cent. under George Fox. The members are commonly called Quakers, originally a term of derision.
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 (Quakers), the DukhoborsDukhobors
or Doukhobors
[Russ.,=spirit wrestlers], religious group, prominent in Russia from the 18th to the 19th cent. The name was coined by the Orthodox opponents of the Dukhobors, who had originally called themselves Christians of the Universal Brotherhood.
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, or Jehovah's WitnessesJehovah's Witnesses,
Christian group originating in the United States at the end of the 19th cent., organized by Charles Taze Russell, whose doctrine centers on the Second Coming of Christ.
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, or on personal religious or humanitarian convictions. Political opposition to the particular aim of conscription, such as that maintained by the CopperheadsCopperheads,
in the American Civil War, a reproachful term for those Northerners sympathetic to the South, mostly Democrats outspoken in their opposition to the Lincoln administration. They were especially strong in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, where Clement L.
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 during the Civil War, by radical groups during World War I and, to a more limited extent, during World War II, and by large numbers during the Vietnam War, is usually considered in a separate category. The problem of conscientious objectors, although present in different forms since the beginning of the Christian era, became acute in World Wars I and II because of the urgent demands for manpower of the warring governments. The United States and Great Britain allowed members of recognized pacifistic religious groups to substitute for combat service: (1) noncombatant military service, (2) nonmilitary activity related to the war effort, or (3) activity considered socially valuable. Pacifists without recognized claim to exemption were liable to harsher treatment, and about 5,000 conscientious objectors were imprisoned in the United States between 1940 and 1945. The postwar Selective Service Act, passed in 1948 and amended in 1951, required that conscientious objection be based on religious belief and training that included belief in a Supreme Being. In 1970 the Supreme Court removed the religious requirement and allowed objection based on a deeply held and coherent ethical system with no reference to a Supreme Being. In 1971 the Supreme Court refused to allow objection to a particular war, a decision affecting thousands of objectors to the Vietnam War. Some 50,000–100,000 men are estimated to have left the United States to avoid being drafted to serve in that war.

Bibliography

See G. C. Field, Pacifism and Conscientious Objection (1945); M. Q. Sibley and P. E. Jacob, Conscription of Conscience (1952, repr. 1965); L. Schlissel, ed., Conscience in America (1968); G. C. Zahn, War, Conscience, and Dissent (1967); M. Ferber and S. Lynd, The Resistance (1971).

References in classic literature ?
She started out with the determination to render the facts of life with minute and conscientious accuracy, an accuracy more complete than that of Mrs.
In the wilderness have ever dwelt the conscientious, the free spirits, as lords of the wilderness; but in the cities dwell the well-foddered, famous wise ones--the draught-beasts.
Besides, Jack, you are such a conscientious master, and require so much, that I believe you make her afraid of you.
I understood what she meant by conscientious mothers; she would have said conscientious whores, but she was not willing to disoblige me, for really in this case I was not a whore, because legally married, the force of former marriage excepted.
Which Mrs Milvey confirmed; and really the kind, conscientious couple spoke, as if they kept some profitable orphan warehouse and were personally patronized.
This exaltation of the young gentleman moved the conscientious Mrs Boffin to repentance for having done him an injustice in her mind, and consequently to saying that she and Mr Boffin would at any time be glad to see him; an attention which he handsomely acknowledged by replying, with his stopper unremoved, 'Much obliged to you, but I'm always engaged, day and night.
The appeal, however, was rejected, because, in the military committee's opinion, it was based on political convictions rather than a sincere conscientious belief.
The conscientious objection exemption to involuntary military service is an important tradition in the United States, but the governing military regulations have resulted in judicial interpretation that has expanded it far beyond its original scope.
The above sections have outlined the argument for why conscientious objector status can be extended to homeschooling.
Descendants of 50 First World War conscientious objectors to take part in International Conscientious Objectors Day commemoration.
A National Institute of Mental Health study found that conscientious men earn higher salaries.
The defendant urged that he was a conscientious objector.