Petition 80535

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Conscientious Objection and Military Service (80535-C1-R9999)

Add a new resolution as follows:
From the Social Principles, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2004, Paragraph 164, V. The Political Community I) Military Service  
   “We yearn for the day when there will be no more war and people will live together in peace and justice.   Some of us believe that war, and other acts of violence, are never acceptable to Christians.  We also acknowledge that many Christians believe that, when peaceful alternatives have failed, the force of arms may regretfully be preferable to unchecked aggression, tyranny and genocide.  We honor the witness of pacifists who will not allow us to become complacent about war and violence.  We also respect those who support the use of force, but only in extreme situations and only when the need is clear beyond reasonable doubt, and through appropriate international organizations.  We urge the establishment of the rule of law in international affairs as a means of elimination of war, violence, and coercion in these affairs.
    We reject national policies of enforced military service as incompatible with the gospel.  We acknowledge the agonizing tension created by the demand for military service by national governments.  We urge all young adults to seek the counsel of the Church as they reach a conscientious decision concerning the nature of their responsibility as citizens.  Pastors are called upon to be available for counseling with all young adults who face conscription, including those who conscientiously refuse to cooperate with a system of conscription.
    We support and extend the ministry of the church to those persons who conscientiously oppose all war, or any particular war, and who therefore refuse to serve in the armed forces or to cooperate with systems of military conscription.  We also support and extend the Church’s ministry to those persons who conscientiously choose to serve in the armed forces or to accept alternative service.  As Christians we are aware that neither the way of military action, nor the way of inaction is always righteous before God.”
  
From The Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 2004, Resolution 338, The United Methodist Church and Peace, V.  Military Conscription, Training, and Service, pages 847-848.
  
    “2.  Conscientious Objection.  Christian teaching supports conscientious objection to all war as an ethically valid position.  It also asserts that ethical decisions on political matters must be made in the context of competing claims of biblical revelation, church doctrine, civil law, and one’s own understanding of what God calls him or her to do.  
   We therefore support all those who conscientiously object to preparation for or participation in any specific war or all wars, to cooperation with military conscription, or to the payment of taxes for military purposes, and we ask that they be granted legal recognition.
    Since 1936, The United Methodist Church or one of its predecessors has provided to those of its members who claim to be conscientious objectors the opportunity to register.  Certified copies of such registration are supplied for use with the draft authorities.  It is the responsibility of the church at all levels to inform its members of the fact that conscientious objection, as well as conscientious participation, is a valid option for Christians and is recognized in many countries as a legal alternative for persons liable to military conscription.
    The local church’s support of an individual participating in this process does not express agreement or disagreement with the convictions of the applicant member.  Rather, the church’s task is to record which of its members are opposed to participation in military service on grounds of conscience and to assist them in securing proper counsel.  When a member has registered as a conscientious objector and his or her registration has been certified by the proper authorities, that action should be recorded with the conference and the General Board of Church and Society.  
    The United Methodist Church also supports those persons who refuse to register for the draft and deplore discrimination against those persons by any institution.”
  
BE IT RESOLVED that the 2008 General Conference of the United Methodist Church be proactive in ministries to those who struggle with “the agonizing tension created by the demand for military service by national governments” (Social Principles, 164.V.I), including young people, their families, and active service personnel;
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since “it is the responsibility of the church at all levels to inform its members of the fact that conscientious objection, as well as conscientious participation, is a valid option for Christians” (Resolution 338,V.2), we call on local congregations and the United Methodist Church to regularly publish the church’s statements on these issues through newsletters and bulletins;
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since the current national system of draft registration leaves young men vulnerable to possible conscription, and since many young men and women join the military for lack of other opportunities, creating in effect a “poverty draft,” and since “we urge all young adults to seek the counsel of the Church as they reach a conscientious decision concerning the nature of their responsibility as citizens” (Social Principles164.V.I), congregations are called to make such counsel available and to reach out to young people who may be struggling with such decisions both within and beyond the local church;
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since “pastors are called upon to be available for counseling with all young adults who face conscription, including those who conscientiously refuse to cooperate with a system of conscription” (Social Principles164.V.I), all pastors in the United Methodist Church are called on to equip themselves for this task and to inform their congregations on a regular basis that they are available for such counsel.  
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since “the church’s task is to record which of its members are opposed to participation in military service on grounds of conscience and to assist them in securing proper counsel” (Resolution 338,V.2), local churches and the General Conference Board of Church and Society will create a system for registering those who are conscientious objectors;
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since “we support and extend the ministry of the church to those persons who conscientiously oppose all war, or any particular war...” (Social Principles164.V.I), we urge congregations to extend their offers of counsel and support to active service personnel, including those who decide while serving in a particular war that they are opposed to military service for reasons of conscience.
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that since “we also support and extend the Church’s ministry to those persons who conscientiously choose to serve in the armed forces...”(Social Principles, 164.V.I), we urge congregations to affirm, support, and develop active ministries to members of the armed services, veterans, and their families.
  
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the General Board of Church and Society will identify or create educational materials and resources to assist in such ministries and make them available to pastors and congregations.