March 10, 2011
Christian Peace Witness: Conscience in War Project
Christian Peace Witness is committed to making Conscience in War the major theme for our work in 2011. We seek to foster a serious nationwide discussion on following Jesus in matters of conscience and duty, violence and nonviolence, war and peace.
Our nation has now been at war for almost a decade. As our soldiers consider re-deployment or combat veterans return to rebuild their lives in light of their experiences in war, we are increasingly aware of the crisis of conscience some soldiers wrestle with and the moral injury some have experienced in combat.
March Events on Conscience in War (more info on our website – Spread the word!!)
Moral Injury and Religious Resources for Healing in War Veterans
Friday-Saturday, March 18-19 in Berkeley, CA
Ecumenical Advocacy Days Workshop on Selective Conscientious Objection
Sunday, March 27, 2-3:30pm in Washington, D.C.
What We Are Doing
To build awareness around the topics of moral injury and Selective Conscientious Objection (SCO) we are partnering with Christian and multi-faith peace fellowships and other organizations to host local and regional programs with the following goals:
- Lift up the voices of returning veterans who have struggled with questions of conscience while in the military, especially those who because of their Christian faith have chosen the way of nonviolence.
- Provide a list of resources and speakers on the topic of Selective Conscientious Objection to be used by churches and other organizations. The speaker list will include veterans, military chaplains, theologians and others working on topics of conscience, war, and moral injury. Both educational and liturgical resources will be available.
- Host and co-sponsor local events in diverse geographical regions that highlight these stories and provide opportunities for education, worship, public witness and/or advocacy. Increasing public awareness through media outreach is key.
Why We Support Selective Conscientious Objection
Conscientious Objector Status has protected the conscience of Christians in the pacifist tradition in times of war for decades. However, under present law there is no legal avenue for soldiers outside of these pacifist traditions to exercise his/her conscience regarding specific wars.
A change in U.S. policy to include Selective Conscientious Objection is needed now to reflect a broader spectrum of religious traditions and respect the sacrifice made by our soldiers.
- Religious traditions that adhere to a Just War ethic believe the Christian soldier is obligated to refuse participation in wars, weapons systems or military orders deemed unjust. Under present law there is no legal possibility for the Christian soldier to exercise his/her conscience in this way. For the Just War theory to have practical meaning, there must be the option of selective conscientious objection.
- Those traditions that affirm a Just Peace ethic believe that only true justice will lead to a sustainable peace. Supporting selective conscientious objection is a way to ensure justice both for the individual soldiers involved in war, as well as transforming the system that supports it. Peace is the goal, but so is ensuring that individuals are given the right to exercise their conscience.
- Those in the pacifist tradition, believing that the way of Jesus prevents them from engaging in any form of war, naturally support others whenever they make a choice against violence. By working across theological differences to recognize and heal the injuries of war, pacifists continue their work of peacemaking.
On Veterans Day 2010, The Truth Commission on Conscience and War, representing a variety of religious leaders, chaplains, vets, and ethicists, made public a report on the continued struggle of conscience many of our current soldiers and veterans face. The call was made to update U.S. policy to include selective conscientious objection and thereby reflect a broader spectrum of religious traditions. Christian Peace Witness joins this movement to acknowledge the deep and diverse moral issues in war and support soldiers of conscience.
We need your help!
- Work with your church or peace fellowship to host an event in your area. Your program can be small or large. It can focus on education or worship or public witness or advocacy – or any combination of these.
- Send us resources from your tradition around the issue of conscience, war or SCO.
- Help us connect with people in the military from your community or denomination who might be willing to join this discussion. We are particularly looking for conversation partners among veterans and military chaplains.
- Tell us about conferences and events already planned where we might add a workshop, speaker or film on SCO.
- Help us to publicize events as they are planned in your area.