A Curriculum on Conscientious Objection
Welcome to Call of Conscience, a website created to help Church of the Brethren youth develop their beliefs about peace and conscientious objection to war.
As young men, and possibly young women someday, reach the age of 18, they are required by law to register with the Selective Service System (SSS), an agency of the federal government responsible for a military draft in the event the nation needs more military personnel than it can recruit as volunteers.
If the United States Congress decided to reinstate a military draft today, young people would have only days, two weeks at most, to gather evidence to convince Selective Service they have an established moral or religious opposition to killing and should be classified as conscience objectors. This website is a resource for youth (male and female) who want to prepare now to “make a defense for the hope that within them” (1 Peter 3:15).
Four sessions help youth think through their beliefs as taught by the Church of the Brethren:
- The difference between allegiance to God and allegiance to the state
- Biblical teaching on war and peace
- The church’s historic and living peace position
- Making a case for conscientious objection
The sessions culminate in a project in which youth compile personal files full of evidence that they firmly believe in the teachings of Jesus on violence and peace and have demonstrated even as young people that they are conscientious objectors to war. Participants will keep journals, collect letters of reference, gather lists of influential books, websites, newspaper clippings and films, and respond to three questions Selective Service will ask registrants to determine the strength of their commitments.
The curriculum focuses on developing a personal peace position based on biblical teaching and the traditions of the church. These sessions are designed to be led by an adult and include full session plans and downloadable resources. Each session also contains a “Call of Conscience” take-home page for youth, with suggestions for further reflection, reading, journal topics, and activities.
Whether or not a draft looms, exercising one’s conscience based on faith grounded in the teachings and saving grace of Jesus Christ is something all Christians should do. As a leader or a coach, you can help youth explore questions of conscience and challenge them to begin formulating their own thoughts about allegiance, following Jesus, and Christian moral choices. As with a physical workout, they will have the opportunity to drive themselves hard on difficult questions, exercise their conscience in a real life situation, support each other, and feel the burn! Few things are as satisfying as getting your conscience in shape and knowing that your heart, soul, and mind are set on God.