The Objector Registry
A declaration of conscience hosted by the Objector Church, an interfaith peace and justice community rooted in religious humanism.
Why register today as an objector to war?
- To assert your moral opposition to war, regardless of your age, gender, or religious affiliation.
- To create a record of beliefs and actions in case of forced conscription, especially if you’ve been–or will be–forced to register for the draft with the US Selective Service.
The Selective Service, draft registration & conscription
Every young man living in the US, age 18 through 25, is required by law to register for a future draft. This requirement may also include women in the near future. The US Selective Service, which oversees draft / conscription registration, provides absolutely no way for an individual to register their objection to war. In case of future conscription, draft boards will evaluate exemption claims of objectors. An important part of preparing for this possibility is documenting your history of beliefs and actions, such as registering with the Objector Church.
The definition of conscientious objection
In the event of a future draft, current military policy is the best guide as to how conscientious objection will be defined. In short, you must have: “A firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms, by reason of religious training and/or belief.” (DOD 1300.6)
This definition has been further clarified by both military policy and the legal system. According to the GI Rights Hotline, here’s what the key words in that definition really mean…
The term “religious” also includes moral and ethical beliefs that have the same force in a person’s life as traditional religious beliefs.
The term “religious” does not include essentially political, sociological, or philosophical views.
“Training and/or Belief”
“Training and/or belief” refers to the source of conviction or, more simply, the experiences and values you hold that do not allow you to participate in military service or the bearing of arms. This may come, for example, from a lifetime of involvement in an organized religion that teaches active love for the enemy (i.e. not killing) or from books, movies, or TV shows. It could also arise from experiences serving in the military or from other life experiences.
This term highlights the personal nature of the claim. Thus a CO claim cannot be an abstract critique of war. It indicates that your set of personal values is the reason you are requesting discharge or reassignment, not that you think war is illogical or bad policy, for example.
The term “In War” does not mean that a CO has to object to the use of violence by a police force or for self-defense, although many COs do hold nonviolent convictions. Additionally, it is important to note the difference between force and violence. Punching someone is an example of violent force, while pulling a child away from a moving car is an example of nonviolent force.
“In Any Form”
This means that you must be opposed to all real war at this point in time. Those who object to a particular war would be called “selective conscientious objectors” and they do not qualify as conscientious objectors under current US law. If you believe in “Just War Theory”, held by many religious traditions, then to be a conscientious objector under the current legal definition you would have to apply the theory and conclude that there is no just war.
Frequently Asked Questions
Selective Service: Who is legally required to register?
In short: Every young man living in the US, regardless of immigration status, age 18 through 25.
“Every young man” includes:
- Conscientious objectors
- Permanent resident immigrants
- Undocumented immigrants
- Refugee, parolee, and asylee immigrants
- Dual national U.S. citizens
- U.S. citizens or immigrants who were born male and have changed their gender to female
- Physically and mentally handicapped men “who are able to function in public (with or without assistance)”
Selective Service: What happens if I just don't register?
Failing to register is a felony with a fine of up to $250,000 and/or 5 years in prison. Yet, millions of young men have simply refused. While the government selectively prosecuted 20 outspoken anti-draft registration organizers in the 80’s, the last indictment was in 1986. The real consequences today are:
- Ineligibility for federal student aid, including “Federal Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Direct Stafford Loans/Plus Loans, National Direct Student Loans, and College Work Study.”
- Ineligibility for federally funded job training programs
- Ineligibility for many federal jobs, including the US Postal Service
- Ineligibility for US citizenship for non-citizen men who arrive in the US prior to their 26th birthday but fail to register
“The more immediate penalty is if a man fails to register before turning 26 years old, even if he is not tried or prosecuted, he may find that some doors are permanently closed,” explains the Selective Service.
Note that in many states you are automatically enrolled in the Selective Service when you get your driver’s license.
Women: Forced draft registration coming soon?
“In late 2015, Commander-In-Chief Obama ordered all military assignments opened to women. That order undercut, and probably eliminated, the legal argument that had been used since 1980 to justify requiring only men, but not women, to register for the draft. That gave members of Congress three options, none of which most of them wanted to take responsibility for, in the run-up to the 2016 elections: 1) Do nothing and wait for courts to invalidate the requirement for men to register for the draft; 2) Repeal the requirement for men to register, and abolish the Selective Service System (and risk being attacked as peaceniks); or 3) Extend the requirement to register for the draft to women as well as men (and risk being attacked by both feminists and sexists),” recently explained long-time anti-draft registration organizer Edward Hasbrouck (resisters.info).
A bipartisan, 11-member National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service (inspire2serve.gov) has been created by Congress to review the military selective service process and make recommendations for what should happen next. Their report is expected by late 2020.
Medical professionals: At greater risk of being drafted?
It’s likely that medical professionals, both men and women, up to 45 years old, would be the first to be drafted.
“If you think the draft is just for young men, think again. The first people to be drafted will probably be health care workers. If you’re a doctor, nurse, technician, therapist, or other medical professional — man or woman, age 20 through 44 — and if Congress authorizes a draft, you could be in boot camp in just a few months,” explains long-time anti-draft registration organizer Edward Hasbrouck (MedicalDraft.info).
The Selective Service acknowledges that they intend to “draft a very small percentage of America’s health care providers, specialists, and allied health professionals in more than 60 fields of medicine” into military service.
Computer programmers: At greater risk for being drafted?
After medical professionals, computer programmers may be the most valuable conscripts in future wars.
Cyberwarfare moves the battlefield to computers, information databases, online control systems and networks, including both offensive and defensive operations–cyberattacks, espionage and sabotage. Additionally, lethal and surveillance drones of various types still require significant numbers of highly skilled operators, technicians, and programmers. The “best and brightest” coders aren’t often found in the military for various reasons, including relatively low pay.
Objector Registry: What if I change my mind later?
Of course people have a change of mind/heart/conscience. That’s why hundreds of people already in the US military apply for discharge as conscientious objectors every year.
For non-military folks registering as conscientious objectors with the Objector Church, changing your mind might mean a few things:
- You sign up now indicating that you are “investigating your conscience” regarding conscientious objection. Later, you realize that you are in fact a conscientious objector. Suggestion: Sign up a second time with the Objector Registry indicating your change of status.
- You sign up now either as a conscientious objector or as someone studying the question. Later, you conclude that you are not in fact a conscientious objector after all. Suggestion: Simply discard your certificate. In the off chance that might have given us permission to use your image, name, and/or quote in support of the Objector Registry, please contact us so that we can remove that information.
Objector Registry: What guarantee is there?
In the case of a draft, there is no guarantee that documents provided by the Objector Church will ensure a conscientious objector classification/determination by your local draft board. The system is simply to arbitrary. However, we are confident in saying that individuals that can show a history of conscientious objection, in words, deeds, and documentation, are much, much more likely to be granted conscientious objection status by the authorities.
Objector Registry: What happens to the information I provide?
Most importantly, we’ll use your information to provide you with documentation of your journey regarding conscious objection to war. Will will not sell or share your information with anyone. We will likely hit you up for support, probably by way of a fundraising mailing, and an occasional email newsletter. Every email newsletter you might receive from us will include an unsubscribe link that actually works.