conscientious objector

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conscientious objector

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 Friends (Quakers), the Dukhobors, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or on personal religious or humanitarian convictions. Political opposition to the particular aim of conscription, such as that maintained by the Copperheads 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.


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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
Similarly, the DOD policy on conscientious objection is that "a request for classification as a conscientious objector and relief from or restriction of military duties in consequence thereof will be approved to the extent practicable and equitable ...." DODI 1300.06, supra note 52, para.
Finally, the students who interviewed World War 11 conscientious objectors discovered alternative narratives of patriotism and forms of citizenship that will shape their interactions with local, regional, and national communities.
Instead of military service during times of conscription, Hutterite young men have been drafted into alternative service as conscientious objectors to do work in the national health and safety of others in the United States.
If approved it will enable conscientious objectors to do alternative civilian service in the army or a public institution.
Reportedly, the conscientious objector told the officers that he would welcome them into his home where he was awaiting them.
The first acquittal of a religious conscientious objector came in 2004 and 17 had been found not guilty by 2016.
He spent six months in Wormwood Scrubs, London, and was classed as a category B conscientious objector, opposing the war on political grounds rather than religious.
HATE mail and a cartoon depicting a person as "lazy" for refusing to fight are among documents and images released to mark International Conscientious Objectors Day.
Other US soldiers are inspired by the conscientious objector's being able to rescue a staggering total of 75 injured soldiers, and then pull them out of harm's way by rappelling them down on the steep escarpment.
The best evidence for this view can be seen in the interesting debate between the conscientious objector Haim Weiss and his commander Arbel Aloni.