Conscientious Objector

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Conscientious Objector

A person who, because of principles of religious training and moral belief, is opposed to all war regardless of its cause.

A conscientious objector may be released from the obligation to serve in the armed forces or to participate in selective service registration. A conscientious objector must oppose war in any form, and not just a particular war, in order to avoid military service. He does not have to be a member of a religious congregation that forbids participation in war. Under the Military Selective Service Act (50 App. U.S.C.A. § 451 et seq. [1967]), a registrant needs only a conscientious scruple against war in all forms to obtain conscientious objector status. A conscientious scruple against war is an objection to war based on moral beliefs. A conviction that war is wrong, arrived at solely on intellectual and rational grounds, does not entitle one to exemption as a conscientious objector.

Under prior draft laws, conscientious objectors were divided into two classes. One class was composed of those who were opposed to all military service, regardless of whether it was combatant or noncombatant. This class was required to serve in civilian work that contributed to the national welfare, such as the Red Cross, but was exempt from military service. The other class was opposed to only combatant military service. These conscientious objectors were drafted into the Armed Services for noncombatant duty, such as in the medical corps.

Today there is no draft law; however, males are required to register for the Selective Service at the age of eighteen. Registrants can obtain a discharge, or a release, from the armed services on the ground of conscientious objection. A person who seeks a discharge on this basis must satisfy certain tests established by the federal courts. He must oppose all forms of war and object to any type of service in the armed forces. Total Pacifism, however, is not required. Willingness to use force in Self-Defense to protect oneself and family does not defeat a claim of opposition to all war. Enlistment in the military service is also not inconsistent with a claim of conscientious objection.

The objection must be founded on deeply held moral, ethical, and religious convictions about right or wrong. Although this limits discharges to those persons who object to war for essentially religious reasons, which are individually held beliefs, it does not restrict discharges to only those who participate in organized religion. The test of a religious belief is not measured by traditional religious concepts but is based upon whether the belief is sincere and has an effect on the life of the nonconforming believer that is comparable with or parallel to traditional religious beliefs held by persons who believe in God. The objective or actual truth of the beliefs is not the standard used to measure the sincerity of the individual in his beliefs; the test is completely subjective, determined by what the individual actually believes. A military board's skepticism as to the sincerity of an objector's belief is not enough to deny a discharge; some objective evidence is required.

Conscientious objectors can be ordered to report for civilian duty in lieu of military service.


Selective Service System.

conscientious objector

n. a person who refuses to serve in the military due to religious or strong philosophical views against war or killing. Refusing to answer a draft call is a federal felony, but when a person's religious beliefs are long-standing and consistent (as with the Quakers) then the objection to service is excused. Conscientious objectors may be required to perform some non-violent work like driving an ambulance. During the Vietnam War some conscientious objectors fled to Canada to avoid any service. However, heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali refused induction during the Vietnam War (1967) on the basis of his Black Muslim religious beliefs against war and other philosophical reasons, but was charged with draft evasion anyway. Ali was convicted and sentenced to five years in prison. On June 28, 1971, the Supreme Court overturned Ali's conviction. Those who do not agree with these objectors sometimes call them "draft dodgers."

References in periodicals archive ?
Speaking at First Minister's Questions, the First Minister said: "The ruling yesterday confirms that midwives' right to conscientious objection from taking part in abortions is protected.
Without disputing earnest objections, conscientious objection in this situation becomes highly questionable and demands closer examination of this constitutional right.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde have attempted to argue that the women must support and supervise colleagues taking part in abortion, and that this is not an infringement of their right to conscientious objection," said Niall Gooch, a spokesman for the prolife organization LIFE.
Abuse of conscientious objection in Poland: short summary of Doctor Chazan case.
Typically, the term conscientious objection is used to describe an individual's objection to being conscripted into the military (Cohen, 1968; Harries-Jenkins, 1993; Schinkel, 2007), but the term has also been used in different ways.
Israel's armed forces have threatened "sharp and clear" disciplinary action to silence the 43 members of Israel's top intelligence team, Unit 8200, who signed an open letter of conscientious objection.
Some post pictures of themselves holding signs with slogans such as "forced conscription is slavery" accompanied by the group's logo or "I support the right to conscientious objection to military service".
GREAT WAR Dr Craigmile (chairman) asked him to state the grounds for his so-called conscientious objection.
Druze youth likely headed to prison for conscientious objection Omar Sa'ad reported to Israeli army induction base and announced his refusal to enlist.
The Bill will also introduce access zones to prevent protesting, filming, intimidating or threatening patients within 150 metres of a clinic and a requirement for medical practitioners who have a conscientious objection to provide patients with a list of other providers who have no such objection.
At its annual meeting in Calgary, the members of the Canadian Medical Association overwhelmingly passed a motion calling on the organization to "support the right of any physician to exercise conscientious objection when faced with a request for medical aid in dying.
That access can be compromised by conscientious objection, which, in women's sexual and reproductive health services, is most commonly invoked in relation to abortion and contraception.