We Go On Record: Statements of Conscience

When a military conscientious objector seeks C.O. status, a statement of conscience is the heart of his or her application. This statement addresses the nature of the applicant’s beliefs, how the convictions developed over time (including the “crystallization of conscience,” the moment when a person realizes that they are opposed to war), how the conscientious objector’s daily life has changed after this realization, and whether or not the applicant believes there are any situations which could justify the use of force.

There are many reasons for a person who is not currently in the military to write a statement of conscience. In the case of the return of a draft, having a statement of conscience already on file will go a long way toward convincing a 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. 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 is also a form of resistance against militarism in this country and in the world.

“Whoever loves God must also love his brother”

As a man of faith, nonviolence, and service, my beliefs forbid me from participating in any type of war. Since 2004, when I first visited El Salvador, a country torn apart by war and violence, I have had a deep belief that peace and nonviolence is ultimately best for this world. Seeing the faces and hearing the pleas of survivors of massacres, many of which were carried out by US-trained soldiers, led me to believe and realize that basically any tool of negotiation and peaceful relations is for the better in the long run.

Aaron Schaffer application for Contentious Objector 1-0. IAW AR 600-43


The religious denomination or sect of both parents: Both Christian, non-denominational.

11.Was application made to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector before entry into the Armed Forces?: No

Was any previous application made in service for classification as a conscientious objector?: No.

13. N/A I have served more than 180 days.

Training and Belief

Nonviolence and the Gospel

I am 58 years old.
I teach “Religion” at a Catholic high school and have done so for over 30 years.
From 1969 to 1973, it was only my deferment as a college student that kept me from the horrors of the war. It kept me, as well, from having to summon the courage to publicly declare myself as a Conscientious Objector. Perhaps it is too little too late, yet I rectify that today.

Living Compassionately

“Be compassionate as your God is compassionate,” so teaches Jesus. Living as a disciple of the compassionate Christ calls forth from me an irrevocable committment to live non-violently, to be a instrument of care and peace, and not an instrument of rancor, division, hatred, or violence under any condition. War, in a particular way, is a violation of the command to be compassionate for it induces suffering and misery; compassion seeks to relieve it and address the causes of violence and suffering. Therefore, while as a college senior in 1970 I made a private vow of non-violence in the presence of my priest/spiritual director. This was my basis for becoming a Conscientious Objector. I have maintained this private vow and seen its application called forth in ways I never imagined at age 20. I continue to advocate for life, non-violence, and respect for human dignity from the moment of conception through natural death.


Vietnam era Conscientious Objector

Things have changed since I was applying for conscientious objection. I grew up under the draft and registered at 18. My draft card was 16-98-50-537 Which means that I was the 537th registrant for the year 1950 at draft board 98 in area 16 which was probably for Louisiana.

Having been through Catholic school through high school, including 3 years of diocesan seminary training, I felt that no one had overruled the commandment that said “Thou shall not kill” or Jesus’ commandment to love my enemies as God loved me.

Stuart Tam Long’s declaration of Conscientious Objection on September 9th of 2008

I hereby declare that I do NOT believe in war as a means to solve any problems or conflicts. I declare my status as a ‘conscientious objector’, this ninth (9th) day of September in the year 2008. To whom it may concern, I do not support violence of any means to reach any outcome.

Where are the voices of reason?

In World War II I was stationed at Alamagordo Air Force base (NM) next to White Sands where the first atom bomb was tested on the early morning of July 16, 1945. Could anyone really dream of its hellish, destructive power? . . . On August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped an atom bomb on Nagasaki, Japan, incinerating in seconds thousands of innocent Japanese civilians, most of them Christians. This followed the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima on August, 6, the feast of the Transfiguration, when the transfigured Jesus shone like the sun. Thank God, nine months after that fateful date I was discharged for “government convenience,” since my service geared for the war in Europe was no longer needed. I was 19-20 years old at the time. I am now 82. Incredibly, the madness continues!


Love your enemy

Pretty clear.

God decides who lives or dies… Not Me.

Because of my beliefs I cannot fight or kill any human being in any circumstance. I have been taught to turn the other cheek and to love my enemies through the teachings of the Catholic Church, and I refuse to aid in any kind of warfare or violence because it is not my choice who lives and who dies it is God’s. No act, as seen in the eyes of God, is so terrible that it is beyond forgiveness, and would necessitate a counterattack of violence. So, for me associate myself with any act of violence would prove to be detrimental to my psychological welfare as well as my eternal soul.

Kraft’s Statement of Conscience

My Catholic faith informs my conscience on the place of war in the world. There is such a thing as a “just war” and within a perfect context, war is an acceptable option.

Statement of Conscience: Karen A. Reixach

The Living Spirit works in the world to give life, joy, peace and prosperity through love, integrity and compassionate justice among people. We are united in this Power. We acknowledge that paying for war violates our religious conviction. We will seek ways to witness to this religious conviction in each of our communities.
New York Yearly Meeting, (NYYM) Religious Society of Friends, Minute April 2006

What I believe:

I believe in a Savior that came down from Heaven in order to teach us the way of peace. I believe in loving my enemy and turning the other cheek, because my Lord died in order to teach me that lesson. In His ressurection He has proven that through Him love will triumph over hate, peace will triumph over war and life will triumph over death.

I Refuse to Fight. I Refuse to Kill.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” It is as simple as that. He also said, “No one can have two masters.” I have only one, and that is Jesus. I will not kill or assist anyone else in killing. I refuse conscription to combatant and noncombatant roles.

A Statement on the Illegitimacy of War

It is my firm belief, in light of my personal conscience and Christian faith, that all wars and violence are founded upon illegitimate grounds. In light of my ethical reasoning I have never, and will never willingly support violence or war.

Peace is a Force that gives us meaning.

I believe that war is wrong, and seek to find ways to create a world in which war is never the answer. In my belief that all human beings are sacred and members of our human community (we are all connected and one as part of the beloved community), I hold a firm belief that killing one person is a loss of self.

Citizen of the Peaceful Kingdom

I am a friend of God, a member of the body of Christ and a citizen in His Peaceful Kingdom. I am enjoined to love my enemies, whom have I left to hate? Who could suffer injury at my hands? How could I destroy the lives of the ones I am commissioned to save? As a follower of the true Prince of Peace, I can not and will not use the weapons of this world to fight my battles.

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I have been a CO since I was 10 years old when my Uncle “Bud” Day taught me the way of settling disputes peacefully. Although he was in the Navy, my uncle soon learned that military action and war is not the way to live or make changes. He taught this philosophy to numerous nations and peoples before his death a few years ago. In his honor, the New Day Peace Center (in Flagstaff, AZ) was named for him and continues to teach the peaceful way. I have been involved with the peace movement since 2000 and will continue to fight war no matter where I move or what I do.