This is a topic I am sure most people have never heard of before. Conscientious (Con-she-en-shus) Objection is when a person’s beliefs and morals will not allow their participation in war.
I am a Conscientious Objector. I am opposed to war. A book that I highly recommend reading is linked to on the home page of this website called, “War is a Racket”. It is written by Major General Smedley Butler USMC.
Many Marines view this as a cowardly stance to have and it is often viewed in a negative light. To understand it is an entirely different mindset. You have to break free of the indoctrination this current generation is dealt on a daily basis.
I am like every other man, I love action movies. I love seeing the explosions, guns, and violence, but I have learned a significant fact. It is a fictional portrayal where no actual human being, no brother or sister in Christ, no soul is killed. You may say, “Well no duh, that’s common sense!”
But, I ask you, is it really? Do you take into consideration why you are fighting whomever you are sent to fight? Do you consider the irreparable damage you would do or have to do to those people mentally, emotionally, physically? I mean to real people, like you, me, your brother, sister, mom, and dad.
Let’s take a moment to turn the tables and use our imagination. Imagine if Russia set up camp in Washington State. They are tired of the US and its imperialistic behavior and come to suppress the military activity closest to its land. So now they are kicking in doors, patrolling, and placing checkpoints everywhere. They take firearms, arrest people everywhere, then torture and kidnap people they claim are terrorists who are fighting back.
How would these American fighters be viewed from America’s perspectives? They would be patriots. They would be heroes. They would be the rallying cry of everyone tired of the Russian’s oppression on American land!
What is really different between that situation and the Middle East?
Now mind you, this is a mindset to bring you away from the “idea” of glory and warfare. You have to bring yourself away from the mindset that glory and doing the right thing are one and the same. I have my own delusions of grandeur all the time (being a war hero), but then I remember all the slaughter would not be helping anyone or have any positive cause.
Conscientious Objection is being an objector to war. Objection to the pointless slaughter for whatever reason, religion or politics is not the key point here. Smedley Butler said it best and helps us to understand why war is morally wrong; it is essentially trading blood for money.
I am often confronted with the statement that there will always be men who want to hurt others, and that is entirely true! But why does no one stop them? If I were the vice president and the president wanted to start a war because he was upset with another nation, I would do everything to stop the madness of sending men to kill and be killed who had nothing to do with the politics involved!
An example I can use would be Germany, what if Hitler’s generals told him no? What if they refused and removed him based on moral grounds from slaughtering all the Jews? What if they refused to ignite a war across the Continent? WWII would have never happened. This same idea can be used with every atrocity in history. What if those below said no?
One Conscientious Objector said during WWII that he would gladly kill Hitler but he was not going to slaughter people to do so!
When going through the process of becoming classified as a Conscientious Objector it is not about what you believe about wars past and hypothetical future wars, it is about war as you know it. War as we all know it in this current generation has unfolded before us for the last decade. I am not specifically saying that because I am against the invasion of the Middle East I am an Objector, I am saying because of how war is waged I am a Conscientious Objector.
Take a second to understand my statement.
Where I was my ROEs were as open ended as they could be. Here is an explanation: If anyone, woman, child, man, made the motion to jump into the compound we were to shoot them, visibly armed or not. There would be no attempt to detain in the event either. This clicked in me showing the true value of life, that these were other humans with souls and they didn’t matter to these warmongers who led us.
This was during the building of the new embassy in Tripoli after the mission in Benghazi was assaulted. The White House was still lying about the event having happened because of some protest that got out of hand. We were under the impression that a riot could happen any day.
There are numerous examples of how little life means in the war culture! It’s not just the USMC, it’s not just the US DoD, it is all militaries that are cruel and merciless. You have the sheep getting its skull beat in by a soldier with a baseball bat, the honorable marine gleefully throwing a puppy off a cliff, the prisoners excessively abused, humiliated, and tortured.
Don’t forget Collateral Murder where the Apache pilots had a free for all gunning down a crowd of men, two children and cameramen.
Prior to this event I got to see places and things that most Christians never get to see. The unit I was with travelled and went places all over the Mediterranean Sea even making a brief stop in Israel. These places changed me and this was where my beliefs grew, I became a growing Christian again after having delved head first into the evil of being a worldly warmonger in my younger years.
Jesus said to turn the other cheek, God commanded “Thou Shalt not Kill”, and Proverbs 3:30-32 “Strive not with a man without cause, if he hath done thee no harm. Envy not thou the oppressor, and choose none of his ways…” These are a few of the references I understand now, that I could not comprehend years ago.
I have learned the value of life, that each person and animal deserves the chance to live. No person is born racist or willful to indiscriminately harm others. “The idea that some lives are worth less is the root of all that is wrong in the world.”
Being a Conscientious Objector is not pacifism nor cowardly. It is being able to understand reality and have a true moral compass away from the indoctrination of glorified slaughter. You can look to the non-aggression principle for help in understanding oppression and slaughter are wrong.
Conscientious Objection does not mean you will stand by and be killed willingly; you do not have to deny yourself the right to defend yourself, loved ones, or any victim. To kill to protect the lives of innocents who are being oppressed, assaulted, or harmed around you is far different than armies or organizations fighting over greed and resources.
“Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.” Luke 22:36
Conscientious Objection is an advocacy of peace and diplomatic action in place of violence. To defend one’s self against aggression is well within being a Conscientious Objector and a Christian.
I am a Conscientious Objector, I never want to have to kill anyone, I believe war is unnecessary, and I know war is unnecessary. I will be one of the few who take the step to tell the world that I will not participate in their wars.
Below I will outline the process.
1. Before doing anything, contact a Counselor at the Center on Conscience and War.
- They will help you to understand your beliefs and mindset by asking you different questions.
- If you are 100% sure you are and they can see that, they will be more than willing to help. If you are still on the fence they will help you to figure out where you stand. Obviously they are a peace advocating organization so don’t expect them to appeal to your warmongering side.
- Per Marine Corps Order 1306.16F you have to answer a select set of questions in a paper for your Conscientious Objector Application. (Summary of changes since June 2013)
- They will recommend you complete these questions and help you to understand what the questions are asking before telling your command.
- A good point to remember is that it is not politically based; it is based on your beliefs and/or morals. No political arguments, nothing about media, no blasting the Marine Corps for anything they did to piss you off.
- You will also determine what classification you want; they are 1-0 and 1-A-0.
- 1-0 is separation because you cannot participate in anything war related. 1-A-0 is to be moved to another job that is not combat oriented. (These are basic descriptions; pages 8 and 9 of MCO 1306.16F have the full descriptions.)
(I worked on my paper for a month with 1 total revision before I had my beliefs organized in a sensible way.)
2. Once your paper is complete you will have to inform your chain of command you are a Conscientious Objector.
- Be aware that you cannot claim this then go talking about war like it’s cool, participating in training concerning killing and training to kill in scenarios. Continued participation will lead them to believe you are a liar and add an even more negative stigma to those like me. DO NOT give in to peer-pressure! Stand your ground!
- This is often abused as an easy way out for reservists who are scared to deploy and that keeps a continued negative stigma going against those of us who believe this way.
3. Next they will set you up with an interview with a Chaplain so he can give an opinion of how sincere and deeply held your beliefs/morals appear.
- Your counselor can prepare you with commonly asked questions.
- The Chaplain is used because they tend to be one of the few guys who have a moral compass and can try to understand what you have to say.
- This can happen fairly quickly, I had my interview a week after the initial claim of Conscientious Objector status.
4. You will be appointed an investigating officer (IO) to interview guys from your unit, your chain of command, and any other co-workers.
- He will ask them about you, your attitude, any observable evidence etc.
5. The next step in the process is a Psych Evaluation.
- This can be a relatively short interview. He asks about how you feel, how your personal life is, and a range of other questions to determine if you’re ok mentally.
- He is primarily looking for PTSD or something that would have a sudden trigger to cause you to want to be a Conscientious Objector.
6. Next you will be interviewed by your investigating officer. He should be extremely thorough with the order so this process only needs to be completed once, it can be quite confusing and lengthy.
- You will meet with him and he will ask you pointed questions.
- You will need to remember that you don’t need to answer any political, hypothetical, or historical based questions. You are to prove what you believe about war as YOU know it.
- You will be allowed to bring in witnesses in person or even by phone and letters of support. Also, your counselor can listen by phone or be present.
- My meeting was very informal. It was the officer, my counselor on speaker phone, and we wore utilities.
7. After the interview he will type up his findings and submit it up the chain of command, Company CO, Battalion CO, Regimental CO, Division CO, G1, then HQUSMC will receive it, have a board for it, then decide what they think is best given what classification you have requested.
- They cannot refuse 1-0 and give you 1-A-0 instead and vice versa.
- The Commandant no longer has the authorization to deny you conscientious objector status, if he thinks you should be denied it is sent to the Secretary of the Navy for final review and determination.
- As your package passes each CO they may choose to leave a letter of endorsement to say they agree or even disagree with you and what discharge they recommend for you. It is also up to them to leave comments; if the endorsement letters are negative you should get the chance to write a rebuttal.
- Discharge is based upon character of service, any NJPs, page 11s, etc. These packages tend to be Honorable or General under Honorable. In my case I have zero negative marks against myself and I would assume that guys who think like me have higher moral standards and stay out of trouble. I received an Honorable classification.
- When it comes to benefits the VA does not judge based on why you were discharged, they look at the type of discharge you receive. (Be prepared to be degraded by peers, many people who are ignorant and do not want to understand will be very against you getting an honorable – because you didn’t finish the contract, not because of who you are in your heart, soul, and character.)
8. You must be persistent; you must constantly check in and find out where it is and its location. Do not be annoying though, it can take two to three weeks at each level of command and you do not want to spotlight yourself for every working party and all menial tasks.
- Get a copy of everything! I have a few copies of the package all from different stages from corrections. Anything that has to do with this application, GET A COPY!
- DO NOT tell your command unless you are completely confident you have your ducks in a row and are ready to be interviewed.
- One Conscientious Objector told his command before he had the questions answered and his thoughts sorted out and they had him to the Chaplain within the week unprepared.
- Be ready for hiccups, something will be done wrong and it will have to have portions redone, it happened multiple times for me.
- Be ready to be interrogated by higher-ups that see this. Everyone in the battalion knew me and a few different sergeants and staff sergeants wanted to blindside me with a debate and try to catch me and twist my words (much like Jesus and Pharisees with their money and Caesar)
- Be ready to be ridiculed by your peers. You will be outcast and alone unless you have level headed guys that can understand some people believe differently than them. Also be aware your chain of command may change the terminology they use when preparing for training by really indoctrinating that shooting back would be “self-defense” even though you would be the aggressor.
- I have found that even combat vets agree with me to a certain extent and multiple combat vets blatantly told me they believe this decade of war in particular was pointless. One vet even shook my hand and told me to keep at it.
- While I am not a combat vet I learned from vets like the Iraq Vets against the War. I take pride knowing that I can learn the lessons others had to learn through them – in other words, I never had to kill anyone to realize how wrong it is.
- A question to ask is if your package is just for classification as a Conscientious Objector or if it includes the package for separation/job change or if your EAS date is just going to be changed once classification for 1-0 is determined.
- This process has an average time from submittal to separation under 1-0 of 6 to 9 months
On a personal note what you can expect from your family depends on their character and love for you.
- As a reawakened Christian actually following the teachings of Jesus Christ my mother is extremely proud of whom I have become, a complete 180 from the childish, selfish, immature, worldly warmonger I once was when I signed on.
- Be prepared for negative opinions of any motivators/”government is god” types in your family and friends. Many will not understand or even want to understand.
- A common misconception for Christians is that in Romans it talks about governments are set in place by God. This verse is often explained that all Christians should have unwavering loyalty. The governments set in place by God are an enemy to evil and advocates for good. I do not see a government following those standards in place over the United States or any other country.
This portion forward is more centered on my personal outlook.
If you are ok with war and want to go be some war hero but just hate the Marine Corps or military, do not abuse this and fake your way out, you will just be adding to the problem rather than fixing it. When you are inevitably found out to be lying, your life will be that much worse off and you will help to ruin this for men like me. If you have found a moral compass that tells you war is wrong and/or you found a religion you truly believe that advocates peace, then by all means go for it. It’s a long rough path, but be strong.
For anyone who wants to still try to fake it through this consider other options first like the VEERP, early out for education, or just saving up a bunch of leave for terminal. I don’t know how many types of separations there are because the manual for separations is apparently, from what I’ve heard, well hidden from the eyes of marines. (If you desperately need to see it talk to an IPAC/admin friend.)
This is a documentary on Conscientious Objectors in WW1 in Britain:
These are other Conscientious Objectors, American and Israeli:
A page on facebook that has many horrifying pictures of what war is:
(For any Christians)
When dealing with dark times remember the Valley of the Shadow of Death and fearing no evil and how God led the Israelites out of Egypt, all the obstacles and hard times. If He sees you believe this in your heart, He will guide you on the path that will make you better. Also go to the Book of Daniel and read up on Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego or on Daniel trying to eat the different meal since the king’s food was corrupt. (The Book of Daniel was what really showed me how I felt.)
You may agree; you may disagree; that is your right. The Holy Ghost worked me into the decent and better man I am now and I am proud of who I have become. This is information for anyone who feels they may be a Conscientious Objector and for anyone trying to figure out what Conscientious Objection even is. It is also a good reference to anyone in a chain of command who may not have any idea what to do.
“To Hell with War”
-Major General Smedley Butler
Submitted by “Hooyut”