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Military Conscription, Training, and Service

  1. Conscription. We affirm our historic opposition to compulsory military training and service. We urge that military conscription laws be repealed; we also warn that elements of compulsion in any national service program will jeopardize seriously the service motive and introduce new forms of coercion into national life. We advocate and will continue to work for the inclusion of the abolition of military conscription in disarmament agreements.

  2. Conscientious objection. Each person must face conscientiously the dilemmas of conscription, military training, and service and decide his or her own responsible course of action. We affirm the historic statement: "What the Christian citizen may not do is to obey persons rather than God, or overlook the degree of compromise in even our best acts, or gloss over the sinfulness of war. The church must hold within its fellowship persons who sincerely differ at this point of critical decision, call all to repentance, mediate to all God's mercy, minister to all in Christ's name" ("The United Methodist Church and Peace," 1968 General Conference).

    Christian teaching supports conscientious objection to all war as an ethically valid position. It also asserts that ethical decisions on political matters must be made in the context of the competing claims of biblical revelation, church doctrine, civil law, and one's own understanding of what God calls him or her to do.

    We therefore support all those who conscientiously object to preparation for or participation in any specific war or all wars, to cooperation with military conscription, or to the payment of taxes for military purposes, and we ask that they be granted legal recognition.

    Since 1936, The United Methodist Church or one of its predecessors has provided to those of its members who claim to be conscientious objectors the opportunity to register. Certified copies of such registration are supplied for use with the draft authorities. It is the responsibility of the church at all levels to inform its members of the fact that conscientious objection, as well as conscientious participation, is a valid option for Christians and is recognized in many countries as a legal alternative for persons liable to military conscription.

    The local church's support of an individual participating in this process does not express agreement or disagreement with the convictions of the applicant member. Rather, the church's task is to record which of its members are opposed to participation in military service on grounds of conscience and to assist them in securing proper counsel. When a member has registered as a conscientious objector and his or her registration has been certified by the proper authorities, that action should be recorded with the annual conference and the General Board of Church and Society.

    The United Methodist Church also supports those persons who refuse to register for the draft and deplores discrimination against those persons by any institution.

  3. Amnesty and reconciliation. We urge understanding of and full amnesty or pardon for persons in all countries whose refusal to participate in war has placed them in legal jeopardy. We urge governments to grant political asylum to persons whose countries fail to recognize their conscientious objection to war.

ADOPTED 2008

See Social Principles, ¶ 164I.

From The Book of Resolutions of The United Methodist Church - 2008. Copyright © 2008 by The United Methodist Publishing House. Used by permission.

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