Veterans Day (the official, government-approved spelling doesn’t include an apostrophe) is a time to honor all who have served in our armed forces. This year the Truth Commission on Conscience in War is seeking to honor our veterans through a three-day event currently in its second day in Washington, D.C. The Commission’s stated goal is “to honor and protect freedom of conscience for our nation’s service members.”
Conscientious Objector status may currently be granted only to individuals with “a firm, fixed, and sincere objection to participation in war in any form or the bearing of arms.” As reported in The New York Times, the Commission seeks to expand the freedom of military service members to object, for example, to particular wars if individuals deem those wars unjust or against their conscience. Empowering our troops to think about the ethical implications of their actions could help prevent the likelihood of future situations like the torture and abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.
In 2005, the Alliance of Baptists, the denominational movement of which both myself and my congregation are a part, passed a Statement on Conscientious Objection. This statement both encourages the discernment of conscience concerning participation in war and established a registration file for those who discern a call to be a Conscientious Objector.
This Veterans Day, I encourage you to take a look at the website of the Truth Commission on Conscience in War. Take a few moments to reflect on their efforts to honor and protect freedom of conscience for our nation’s service members.