The Church of the Brethren has endorsed the Selective Service Repeal Act on the recommendation of longterm partner organization the Center on Conscience and War (CCW). The bill offers an alternative during a time when others are urging Congress to expand draft registration to women as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022.
The CCW is one of a number of peace and justice organizations that are endorsing this bipartisan legislation that aims to repeal the Military Selective Service Act. Other faith-based endorsing organizations include the Friends Committee on National Legislation, American Friends Service Committee, Pax Christi USA, and the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship, among others.
The bill (H.R. 2509 and S. 1139) was introduced in Congress on April 14 with bipartisan support in both the House and Senate. Sponsors are Rep. Peter DeFazio, Democrat from Oregon; Sen. Ron Wyden, Democrat from Oregon; Sen. Rand Paul, Republican from Kentucky; and Rep. Rodney Davis, Republican from Illinois.
Said a review of the legislation from the Office of Peacebuilding and Policy: “This bill seeks to terminate the existence of the military draft registration system–which is viewed by the bill’s sponsors as an unnecessary, wasteful bureaucracy that unconstitutionally violates Americans’ civil liberties, and unfairly subjects individuals who fail to register for the draft to unnecessarily suffer lifelong penalties.”
Said an email from CCW: “Even though no one has been drafted in almost 50 years, the Selective Service System continues to do harm, as millions of men have been denied access to federal jobs, money for higher education, and in some states, driver’s licenses and admission to state universities. This bill includes language that overturns the penalties for failure to register, including bars to citizenship, while it also protects conscientious objectors.
“As the Supreme Court and congress debate the merits of the draft in the coming months, they essentially will be faced with two choices: extend the draft–and the harm–to women or abolish it altogether. This bi-partisan legislation can help shift the conversation toward the latter option: ending the draft once and for all!”
The legislation includes provisions to protect conscientious objectors and to provide for those employed by the Selective Service System by assisting them to transfer to other positions in the executive branch.
The Office of Peacebuilding and Policy recommended endorsement based on several Annual Conference statements: 1979 Resolution: Conscription (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1979-conscription), 1982 Resolution: Reaffirmation of Opposition to War and Conscription for Military Training (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1982-opposition-to-war-and-conscription), 1970 Statement on War (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1970-war), 1969 Statement: Obedience to God and Civil Disobedience (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1969-obedience-to-god-and-civil-disobedience), 1970 Resolution: A Hope for Peace (www.brethren.org/ac/statements/1970-resolution-a-hope-for-peace).
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