Navy CO application from Daniel Baker

“I believe that all wars and any other acts of violence cannot be justified. They should be countered only by turning the other cheek and through non-violent action. I believe in complete forgiveness and in loving my enemy as my brother or sister.”

Note: Certain sections of this application are personal info and have been removed.

13 Aug 06

From: AT3 Daniel E. Baker, USN

To: Navy Personnel Command (PERS-832)

Via: Commanding Officer, Patrol Squadron 9


Ref: (a) MILPERSMAN 1900-020

1. I request discharge on the grounds of conscientious objection. The following required information is provided:


f. I did not make application to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector prior to entry into the Armed Forces.

g. A description of the nature of my belief:

The nature of my belief which requires me to seek separation from the Navy by reason of conscientious objection is both philosophical and religious. I no longer believe that war or violence of any kind can be justified regardless of circumstances.

Philosophically, I believe that evil is a product of its environment. I feel that anyone has the potential to become evil and that the factors causing this can only be escalated through the use of violence. Evil traits are fueled by such things as poverty, oppression, ignorance, and violence itself. I believe that destroying these roots through non-violent action is the only way to eliminate the weeds of evil.

By thinking why my enemy has become an evil or violent person, I can much more easily stop de-humanizing them and understand that I could have very well ended up in their position if I wasn’t raised in such favorable conditions. Now that I understand this, I can no longer continue to hate my former enemy as I begin to see them through eyes of compassion. I can only then love them as my brothers or sisters.

I truly believe that the only way to bring about peace is to practice it. There is no way to peace; peace is the way.

Religiously, I believe that all wars and any other acts of violence cannot be justified. They should be countered only by turning the other cheek and through non-violent action. I believe in complete forgiveness and in loving my enemy as my brother or sister.

My personal philosophical and religious beliefs are very similar in nature. I feel this is why I have been able to identify so closely with Jesus and his teachings, which have become my guiding light through a very personal relationship of prayer and faith.

h. Explanation of how my belief changed/developed:

Around December 2004, after six months in the Navy, I began to question if I would really be helping people by serving in the military. I began to feel that I would not re-enlist in the Navy and instead pursue a career of service as a paramedic, firefighter, or other life-saving profession once I got out.

About a year later, I began to focus more strongly on my search for answers to my personal struggles of trying to find meaning to my life and defining my own morals. I started to read numerous books on Buddhism and began to immediately find comfort in its philosophy of non-violence as I contemplated its ideas through meditation and action in my daily life.

In February 2006, I began to attend Church again after a few years of being idle in the Christian community. I immediately connected the non-violent stance of the Buddhist philosophy I had been studying with Jesus’ teachings. I started to read the Bible again and found comfort in the Gospel which I had not studied since I last attended Catholic school in 9th grade. Jesus said to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12.31); “Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you” (Matthew 5.44); “Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword” (Matthew 26.52); “But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5.39). These words have become the solid foundation of my belief in non-violence. During this time of returning to the Church, I discussed my feelings about war with my mother, friends, and others including my Godfather who is a professor and Christian Brother.

I also discussed my feelings with two Air Force Chaplains in June and August who helped to crystallize my beliefs through their spiritual support. Throughout this two month period, my beliefs were strengthened and continued to crystallize through prayer and reading words of inspirational architects of peace. From Mother Teresa, Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Church leaders, and among others, I gathered motivational support that comforted me in knowing that I am not alone in my interpretation of the Bible and beliefs of non-violence. Pope John Paul II said, “Violence is an unacceptable evil that never solves problems. Violence is a lie, for it goes against the truth of our faith, the truth of humanity.” This is exactly what I have come to believe.

i. Explanation of when and why these beliefs became incompatible with military service:

I joined the military with the desire to make a difference and help people. I found the soul of my motivation for military service in the words of Edmund Burke, who said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I thought at the time that the only way to suppress the evil in our world was with war.

For about the last six months, my beliefs have steadily crystallized and became incompatible with military service a couple of weeks into deployment, around mid-June. As I continued to discuss my issue with family and friends, I also decided to talk to a Chaplain. After a lot of contemplation and prayer, I decided to express my concern to my chain of command and requested a rate change to religious programs specialist. Due to rate manning levels, I was given the option of staying an IFT or forfeiting my aircrew status and becoming a normal AT. I decided to keep flying since I had worked for two years to earn that opportunity and felt I would be supporting the war effort equally being a maintainer.

In early August, I talked to another priest about how strongly I feel about my objection to war after two more months of reading, praying, and contemplation. I decided that I could no longer support war directly nor indirectly due to my philosophical and religious beliefs.

The inspirational words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are just one of the many factors that have brought me to my current feelings on war and violence. He said, “On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’ Expediency asks the question ‘Is it politic?’ And Vanity comes along and asks the question ‘Is it popular?’ But Conscience asks the question, ‘Is it Right?’ And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right.” “They can just as well get ready to convict me, because I’m going to continue to say to young men that if you feel it in your heart that this war is wrong, unjust, and objectionable, don’t go and fight in it. Follow the path of Jesus Christ.”

I still believe that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. However, I now believe that non-violence action, not war, is the only way to true victory.

j. Explanation of the circumstances under which I believe in the use of force, under any foreseeable circumstances:

Under no circumstances do I believe in the use of violent force. I only believe in non-violent action.

k. Explanation of how my current life style has changed as a result of my belief and the future actions I plan to continue my support of these beliefs:

I have been incorporating my beliefs into my lifestyle in as many ways that my imagination will allow, considering the present situation. I have continued to study the Bible and read other inspirational books about people working for peace. I am still praying and contemplating throughout the day in different ways. Sometimes I even try to eat alone so that I can sit in prayer as I meditate on the miracle of my food and all those who are less fortunate and dying because of starvation. I have also become more conscience about the environment and have taken more of an initiative on picking up trash. I am more thankful than ever and have been trying my best to express my peaceful beliefs through all of my encounters with others.

I have been thinking of ways I can practice my faith while helping others. As of now, I plan on becoming a Missionaries of Charity Brother when I am out of the military. Founded by Mother Teresa, these men live simple lives and devote themselves in serving Jesus in the poorest of the poor. I have contacted their house in Los Angeles and they have expressed their joy over my decision and welcomed me to share in their work full time while I decide if it is a commitment I will like to make for life. Whether it’s serving the poorest and loneliest people with the Brothers or elsewhere, I have already devoted my life to this mission of peace and love and cannot turn my back away from all those counting on me.

l. Explanation of what, in my opinion, most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of beliefs which gave rise to this application:

I think the fact that I plan on committing the rest of my life in support of my beliefs through living a simple life of service to the poorest of the poor, demonstrates best the consistency and depth of my beliefs of what needs to be done to achieve true peace.

m. Prior service: none

p. A description of the creed or official statements of said religious sect or organization in relation to participation in war:

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Second Edition)

Avoiding War

2307: The fifth commandment forbids the intentional destruction of human life. Because of the evils and injustices that accompany all war, the Church insistently urges everyone to prayer and to action so that the divine Goodness may free us from the ancient bondage of war.

2308: All citizens and all governments are obliged to work for the avoidance of war. However, “as long as the danger of war persists and there is no international authority with the necessary competence and power, governments cannot be denied the right of lawful self-defense, once all peace efforts have failed.”

2309: The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

The damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;

All other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;

There must be serious prospects of success;

The use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

2310: Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense.

Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.

2310: Public authorities, in this case, have the right and duty to impose on citizens the obligations necessary for national defense. Those who are sworn to serve their country in the armed forces are servants of the security and freedom of nations. If they carry out their duty honorably, they truly contribute to the common good of the nation and the maintenance of peace.

2311: Public authorities should make equitable provision for those who for reasons of conscience refuse to bear arms; these are nonetheless obliged to serve the human community in some other way.

2312: The Church and human reason both assert the permanent validity of the moral law during armed conflict. “The mere fact that war has regrettably broken out does not mean that everything becomes licit between the warring parties.”

2313: Non-combatants, wounded soldiers, and prisoners must be respected and treated humanely. Actions deliberately contrary to the law of nations and to its universal principles are crimes, as are the orders that command such actions. Blind obedience does not suffice to excuse those who carry them out. Thus the extermination of a people, nation, or ethnic minority must be condemned as a mortal sin. One is morally bound to resist orders that command genocide.

2314: “Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.” A danger of modern warfare is that it provides the opportunity to those who possess modern scientific weapons, especially atomic, biological, or chemical weapons, to commit such crimes.

2315: The accumulation of arms strikes many as a paradoxically suitable way of deterring potential adversaries from war. They see it as the most effective means of ensuring peace among nations. This method of deterrence gives rise to strong moral reservations. The arms race does not ensure peace. Far from eliminating the causes of war, it risks aggravating them. Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

2316: The production and the sale of arms affect the common good of nations and of the international community. Hence public authorities have the right and duty to regulate them. The short-term pursuit of private or collective interests cannot legitimate undertakings that promote violence and conflict among nations and compromise the international juridical order.

2317: Injustice, excessive economic or social inequalities, envy, distrust, and pride raging among men and nations constantly threaten peace and cause wars. Everything done to overcome these disorders contributes to building up peace and avoiding war:

“Insofar as men are sinners, the threat of war hangs over them and

will so continue until Christ comes again; but insofar as they can

vanquish sin by coming together in charity, violence itself will be

vanquished and these words will be fulfilled: “they shall beat their

swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation

shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war

any more.”

q. A description of my relationship with and activities in all organizations with which I am or have been affiliated (since age 16), other than military, political, or labor organization: none

2. Enclosures: none