We Go On Record
The Catholic Peace Fellowship encourages those who are opposed to war and personal participation in war to write a statement of conscience describing your beliefs.
What is a statement of conscience?
A statement of conscience is any statement you make that indicates the nature of your objection to war. It can be as long or as short as you want, but a thorough statement will address four main areas:
- The nature of your beliefs
- How your beliefs developed and when exactly you realized you were opposed to participation in war
- How your daily life has changed because of your beliefs
- Whether you think there are any circumstances which could justify the use of force.
Note: If you are in the military and applying for CO status, there are other, more particular questions you will need to answer. Please contact a counselor to make sure your application is completed correctly.
Why should I write a statement of conscience?
Depending on your circumstances, there could be numerous reasons why you would choose to write a statement of conscience:
- It’s required. If you are currently in the military and wish to apply for a CO discharge, or to be re-assigned to non-combatant duties, the statement of conscience is the centerpiece of your required CO application.
- It could be the difference between boot camp and peace camp. If you believe the return of a draft is at all possible, having a statement of conscience already on file will go a long way toward convincing any draft board that your beliefs are sincere and long lasting. Having a statement of conscience already written can be the difference between classification as a CO and forced induction into the military.
- It will clarify your beliefs. Even if you don’t think a draft is likely, writing a statement of conscience is an excellent way to clarify your own beliefs and come to a deeper understanding of and commitment to peace.
- It’s a way to say “No!” to militarism in this country and throughout the world.
- It will put you in touch. By writing and publishing your statement of conscience here at We Go On Record, you’ll become part of a growing nationwide community of people taking a thoughtful, personal, and strong stance for peace and against war.
Note: If you are opposed participation in particular aspects of war (such as “unjust” wars, the use of nuclear weapons, etc.), then you would be classified as a selective conscientious objector (SCO). Currently, there is no legal recourse for an SCO. SCOs in the military cannot be discharged as conscientious objectors. If an SCO refused to fight or refuse an order based on his/her conscience, s/he would likely face severe punishment. If there were a draft, one could not be reclassified as an SCO.
However, we believe that it is still important to document your beliefs as an SCO. We believe that if more SCOs were willing to stand up for their conscience, even if it were to result in punishment such as jail time, that this would have a profound impact on military operations.