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Decision No. 25

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May 03 1944
In Re: Conscientious Objectors

Digest of Case

Paragraph 1716, Discipline 1940, under heading "Statement on Peace and War," and Paragraph 1712 under the heading "Our Social Creed," contained identical provisions as to claims for exemption from Military service by conscientious objectors who may be members of The Methodist Church, and although the Statement on Peace and War adopted by the 1944 General Conference is somewhat at variance with the "Statement on Peace and War," Paragraph 1716, yet it did not repeal Paragraph 1712; and accordingly conscientious objectors who are members of The Methodist Church still have the same protection as heretofore.

Statement of Facts

At a session of the General Conference held May 4, 1944, after a lengthy debate on certain Resolutions on "War and Peace," the so-called Minority report was adopted which in effect modified certain portions of the "Statement on Peace and War," adopted by the 1940 General Conference, and appearing as Paragraph 1716 of the 1940 Discipline, particularly that portion of the Statement on page 777 et seq. The question was raised therefore whether the adoption of this revised statement (see 1944 Discipline, Paragraph 2016) took away the protection of the Church from conscientious objectors claiming exemption on this ground. Accordingly the matter was referred to the Judicial Council for a Declaratory Decision, and the following Resolution was adopted: "That there be immediately referred to the Judicial Council the question of whether members of our Church who are conscientious objectors are entitled to assert their claim to exemption under the Selective Service Act in spite of the adoption of the statement on 'The Church and War' today adopted."

Decision

Paragraph 1716 of the 1940 Discipline, under the heading "Statement on Peace and War," and Paragraph 1712 of the 1940 Discipline under the heading "Our Social Creed," seemed to be of equal standing, each being under the division of the 1940 Discipline known as "Resolutions, etc." The pertinent language in these Paragraphs in protection of the rights of conscientious objectors is identical. Note the following quotations from these respective Paragraphs: Paragraph 1716 (page 778 of the 1940 Discipline) : "We ask and claimexemption from all forms of military preparation or service for all conscientious objectors who may be members of The Methodist Church." Paragraph 1712 (part of sub-section 16, page 769, 1940 Discipline) : "We askand claim exemption from all forms of military preparation or service for all conscientious objectors who may be members of The Methodist Church." We have not been advised of any action of the General Conference altering, changing or deleting Paragraph 1712. Assuming that Paragraph 1712 has not been repealed or altered, it would appear obvious that conscientious objectors still have the same protection under the Discipline that they had prior to the action of the General Conference today on the report on "The Church in Time of War." Any action regarding Paragraph 1716 under the heading "Statement on Peace and War," could not be interpreted as affecting in anywise Paragraph 1712 under the subject "Our Social Creed."

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