Conscientious Objection

You are currently browsing the archive for the Conscientious Objection category.

Between 1954 and 1973, 522 conscientious objectors volunteered as human test subjects in the US Army’s biological weapons defense program. Conscientious objectors are people whose religious beliefs forbid them from participating in war.  In the United States, most of them our Christians, but they can be of any religion, or of no religion at all.  These men believed so firmly that killing people was wrong, that they decided to risk their lives as medical experiments rather than be drafted as a soldier.

Read the rest of this entry »

Bruce Phillips believed that killing people in war was wrong.  After fighting in Korea, he became a conscientious objector.  But he was certainly no coward: he volunteered as a smokejumper.  Smokejumpers parachute into forest fires to extinguish them while the fire is still remote, before it becomes a direct threat to the public.  Conscientious objectors during WWII pioneered the practice, and by the end of the war, 240 were deployed smokejumping across the country.  Due to the success of the program, the US Forest Service continues it to this day.

I cried when I first read this poem.  It testifies to the conscientious objectors’ courage, and nonviolent convictions.  They were real men.

Read the rest of this entry »

This is a collection of government files I have collected concerning the conscientious objector (CO) process in the United States.  Many of these files are outdated; whatever analysis they provide is probably no longer relevant.  They are probably not of interest to you, unless you are doing some serious historical work.

Government Accountability Office (GAO) Reports

  • GAO-07-1196 (2007) “Number of Formally Reported Applications for Conscientious Objectors is Small Relative to the Total Size of the Armed Forces”
  • GAO/NSIAD-94-35 (1993) “Conscientious Objectors – Number of Applications Remained Small During the Persian Gulf War”
  • GAO/NSIAD-98-199 (1998) -”Gender Issues – Changes Would be Needed to Expand Selective Service Registration to Women”

Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) Publications

Department of Defense Regulations

Publications by Military Law Journals (Army Lawyer and Military Law Review)

These are full journals, not just the relevant article.  Do a search for “conscientious objector” to find the relevant section.

One common myth about conscientious objectors in the US is that they are reservists who took the government’s money to pay for college but then refused to fulfill their end of the bargain.  This graph, however, shows that most conscientious objectors are in fact full-time, active duty personnel:

active duty and reservist conscientious objectorsThe data was obtained from two Government Accountability Office (GAO) reports on conscientious objection.  Report GAO/NSIAD-94-35 covers conscientious objection during the First Persian Gulf War, and report GAO-07-1196 covers conscientious objection during Operation Iraqi Freedom.