By Charles C. Moskos, John Whiteclay Chambers

Even if conscientious objection is a long-standing phenomenon, it has only in the near past develop into a significant component affecting defense force and society. the one accomplished, comparative scholarly learn of conscientious objection to army provider, this ebook examines the historical past of the perform within the Western global and nation regulations that experience grown up in keeping with it. It indicates how the modern refusal to endure hands might be secular and frequent instead of non secular and marginal, now together with carrier humans (as noticeable within the 1991 warfare within the Persian Gulf) in addition to conscription resisters. No account of civil-military family or peace pursuits in complex commercial international locations is entire regardless of conscientious objection, and this ebook may be the general textual content at the topic.

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43 In all, 80 percent of the twenty-one thousand inducted certified COs decided in the training camps to abandon their objections and to serve as soldiers in the army. One of these, Alvin York from Tennessee, later became famous as "Sergeant 34 THE UNITED STATES York," the American "doughboy" who in a single day killed twenty-five German soldiers and captured 132 others. Nevertheless, four thousand drafted objectors continued to assert their scruples against war and the military. Three quarters of these belonged to the historic pacifist sects, by now all largely middle-class: the increasingly urban and suburban Quakers, the predominantly rural Brethren and Mennonites, and the agrarian German-speaking Russian Mennonites, who had immigrated to America in the 1870s and 1880s.

Furthermore, Lewis B. Hershey, a career army officer who would head the Selective Service System from 1941 to 1970, assured concerned lobbyists of the peace and religious organizations that in writing the regulations to enforce the conscription act, draft authorities would make every effort to protect absolutist conscientious objectors, even nonreligious ones. 54 In a sharply divided vote, the draft bill was passed by Congress during the presidential election campaign and became law in September 1940.

57 After the United States entered World War II in December 1941, the Selective Service Act enabled the government to draft ten million men, who, together with five million volunteers, gave the United States the largest armed force in its history. Fifty thousand draftees were classified as COs. 58 Most of these served as noncombatants in the military, primarily in the medical corps. 61 The CPS camps were operated for the Selective Service System by the historic peace churches, which formed a coordinating body known as the National Service Board for Religious Objectors (now NISBCO, the National Interreligious Service Board for Conscientious Objectors).

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