Introduction to the Objector Church
The Objector Church is a different kind of spiritual community, one that is rooted in the principles of peace and religious humanism.
By peace, we are meaning much more than just the absence of war and violence, but something deeper and broader, speaking to the positive values of social justice, equality, sustainability and harmony with each other and the earth. Yet it is because of our positive peaceful values that we also object — we object to dehumanization, to hatred, to nationalism and empire and most importantly to war. Objection is part of our DNA and is why we are named “The Objector Church.”
“Religion” is an often misused and ambiguous term, one that often carries with it the connotations brought by the abusive behavior of many religious leaders and communities, so we need to carefully define how we are using the word.
Religion, in its most universal sense, refers to a set of beliefs, rituals, culture and practices that help to provide meaning, values, ethics and identity to its adherents. Religions help to answer the ultimate questions of what it means to be human in a particular place and time. Religions at their best moments have compelled humans to live more loving lives and to take stands for justice, but at their worst moments have led humans to hate their neighbors, draw lines of division and even to kill others who are seen as outside the flock of the faithful. Religion’s claims of ultimate meaning and loyalty give it great power for good or evil.
We believe that humanism is the essential corrective to the dangerous potential of religion. By humanism we mean that we as humankind are in the driver’s seat. We are in charge of our own destiny, both individually and collectively. This means that we must not look primarily to a higher power to solve our problems, but rather look within ourselves.
Of course inherent in this inward look is the tension between the individual and the communal. As human beings we all have individual understandings and conscience, but we live in community, within a network of other human beings, other living creatures and the universal as a whole. We deeply value both the principles of individual conscience as well as the importance of the power of cooperation and collaboration, particularly when we can find ways to bridge the gaps of culture and history that separate us.
Related to the issue of religion and humanism is the issue of God. For many religious people, a belief in and worship of a deity (or deities) is an essential element of ultimate meaning, but for others the idea of a deity is unhelpful in the quest for meaning. As an organization, our church is agnostic on this question. We respect and welcome those who believe in God and those who do not. To us, the quest for true peace and understanding can transcend these dividing lines.
What do we do?
Aside from supporting and acting as Courage to Resist’s fiscal sponsor, the church will be launching a national conscientious objection registry. Right now, every young man in the United States, between the ages of 18 and 25, is required by law to register for the draft. It’s likely that this forced registration will soon be expanded to women as well, since all military jobs are now open to women for the first time.
The Selective Service System has no method of (or interest in) recording an individual’s objection to participating in war during registration. The church will provide counseling and options such as notarized letters of support for an individual’s conscientious beliefs. These will serve as evidence of previously held beliefs in the case of a draft.
The Objector Church is built around both local congregations and at-large members scattered around the world, all interconnected through the use of technology and correspondence.
In our local congregations, we provide opportunities for community, mutual aid and service. Our ministers serve as spiritual counselors and chaplains in their communities, being ready to create and officiate individually crafted rituals and lifecycle ceremonies that are relevant to members with a wide variety of religious and philosophical understandings.
We also have a weekly online meetup Tuesdays at 10:30 am Pacific Time. We provide our members and friends with a mixture of Inspiration (spoken word, writing, music, art and more that help us to live for peace), Information (practical ideas on how to work for peace in our individual lives, communities and the world) and Interaction (so that all can participate, not only a select few leaders). You can join our livestream on Facebook and find recordings of previous meetups on our website.
We invite you to come and get to know us, through our online meetup or in one of our local congregations. And if our way of seeking peace through humanist forms of spirituality resonates with you, we invite you to join us! Visit us online at objector.church