There’s people out there known as conscientious objectors. These are people who, generally on religious grounds, refuse to serve in the military.
I am one of them, though I haven’t any objections on religious grounds, obviously. Being an atheist how could I? I do, however, have objections to military service on moral grounds. This is largely due to the fact that I believe it’s wrong to, you know, kill people.
Needless to say, if you’re religious, it’s far easier for you to get conscientious objector status than it is if you aren’t. Consider the Quakers, for example. They famously refuse to participate in war. Any religious person who came forth to a draft board, for example, and said they couldn’t serve because God didn’t want them to would likely have no problems. But someone like me? Someone who said he didn’t want to be in the military because he believes killing is wrong, but doesn’t have any religious beliefs? Yeah, good luck with that.
In fact, from the Wikipedia article on the subject, I find this interesting questionaire that was sent to people who refused to serve.
1.Describe the nature of your belief which is the basis of your claim.
2.Explain how, when, and from whom or from what source you received the training and acquired the belief which is the basis of your claim.
3.Give the name and present address of the individual upon whom you rely most for religious guidance.
4.Under what circumstances, if any, do you believe in the use of force?
5.Describe the actions and behavior in your life which in your opinion most conspicuously demonstrate the consistency and depth of your religious convictions.
6.Have you ever given public expression, written or oral, to the views herein expressed as the basis for your claim made above? If so, specify when and where.
7.Have you ever been a member of any military organization or establishment? If so, state the name and address of same and give reasons why you became a member.
8.Are you a member of a religious sect or organization?
9.Describe carefully the creed or official statements of said religious sect or organization as it relates to participation in war.
10.Describe your relationships with and activities in all organizations with which you are or have been affiliated other than religious or military.
There’s serveral problems with this questionaire. Notice how there’s a presumption that the only possible objections could be based on religion. Also notice that it asks you to name names; to list the people who have been telling you military service is wrong. I assume that wasn’t for any sinister purpose, but it might’ve been.
Anyhow, for fun, let’s do this questionaire.
1. I believe killing is wrong for any purpose other than to save lives, and even then, it should be avoided if it all possible.
2. No specific training or individual sources, but see the works of Richard Dawkins, among others.
4. Again, only to save lives. No other reason, such as protecting property, is valid. Even killing someone to preserve freedom is somewhat iffy.
5. I haven’t got any. I’ve reached my conclusions despite what it says in works like the Bible.
6. Oh, yes. See: Blogging with Badger.
8. No, and if I were, I shouldn’t have to disclose this because this country believes in religious freedom.
10. Again, no. As a free American citizen, I shouldn’t have to.
This questionaire is intrusive and stupid. The mere fact that someone doesn’t want to go out and be in the military should be enough. Yes, that means you’d have a lot of people who just didn’t want to be in the military cause they didn’t want themselves to get killed. So what? Surely as a basic part of freedom we can accept the notion that people have the right to not fight and die to protect their freedom, yes? The concept of a draft interferes with this notion.
Of course we also can’t ignore the sexist nature of most conscription schemes throughout history. Men had to serve, women did not. Even now, in 2008, with Selective Service, men are forced by law to sign up. Women are not.
Apparently during World War II, the US Government had something set up for those who refused military service, but it sounds like it was little more than a pointless make-work program and a way for the government to say, “You’ll do as you’re told!” I’d refuse anything to do with something like that, too. I might choose to serve in such a way, but I shouldn’t be forced.
So in the unlikely event that there’s ever another draft, and that I’d qualifty and be allowed to serve, what with being 36, out of shape, bisexual and a convicted felon, then you can expect I’d refuse.
My beliefs would not allow me to do anything else, and they’re grounded in atheism.
If you’re religious and your beliefs would allow you to do kill people, what does that say about what your faith teaches?