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Conscientious objection

Conscientious objection is the act of claiming the right to refuse to perform or support military service on the grounds of freedom of religion, thought or conscience. Conscientious objectors such as Jehovah’s Witnesses, Quakers, Brethren and Mennonites commonly object on religious grounds. Other reasons for objection include pacifism and the belief that the government has no right to demand its citizens kill. Not until 1970 did the U.S. Supreme Court rule that moral or ethical opponents of war as well as religious objectors qualified as conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectors have long been persecuted for their dissent, as refusal to participate in war is sometimes viewed as unpatriotic.

Associated Archive Content : 19 results

Anonymous Criticism of MLK's Stance on Vietnam

This anonymous letter writer feels that Dr. King's active stance against the Vietnam war takes away from his fight for civil rights. He includes a newspaper article that encapsulates Dr. King's views on the subject, and lists the reasons he feels that Dr. King is being unpatriotic.

Christianity and Crisis: April 3, 1967

Roger L. Shinn wrote this article for Christianity and Crisis: A Christian Journal of Opinion. Shinn defines a "conscientious objector" as one who believes a war morally unjustifiable, and chooses, therefore, not to serve in it. Several Christian organizations attempted to introduce legislation banning forced participation. The American Civil Liberties Union has encouraged the selective service system to recognize a policy "under which no person shall be compelled to participate in armed conflict when he believes it to be in violation of his conscience."

Detroit Free Press: Dr. King Strengthens an Anti-War Coalition

This article, which appeared in the 'As We See It' column of the Detroit Free Press, reports Dr. King's speech in New York from April 4, 1967 on his opposition to the Vietnam War.

Does MLK Have the Right? the Qualifications? the Duty? to Speak Out on Peace

SCLC National Executive Director Andrew Young addresses recent articles criticizing Dr. King's expressions on peace. Young argues that these attacks are largely based on misconceptions of Dr. King's views. He states that the media is quick to attack Dr. King, but whenever critics retract their statements, nothing is reported. To combat this, Young includes a sampling of accurate articles on Dr. King to "redress the imbalance."

Don B. Pratt's Position Statement

Don Pratt expresses concerns about his induction into the US Army during the Vietnam War. Mr. Pratt questions the morality of this "aggressive" war, which would enable him to inflict violence against his "neighbors" of Vietnam.

Interview about Refusal to Seat Julian Bond

This is transcript of a question and answer period following a news conference at which Dr. King made a statement regarding the Georgia State Legislature's refusal to seat Julian Bond after Bond announced his support of a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) news release opposing the Vietnam War. King led a protest rally to the state house.

Legal Petition Made by Karl Von Key Against Selective Service System

Karl Von Key petitions the United States District Court of California about his draft into the armed forces. He contends that, as a person of color, he is a colonial subject, not a citizen of the United States. As a colonial subject, he should not be forced to serve in the military. He also writes that he is a conscientious objector and that he believes he was targeted by the local induction station because of his social and political views.

Letter from Anne Braden to A.D. King

Joe Mulloy will be highlighted in a set of galley proofs for a story in the February issue of The Southern Patriot. Anne Braden informs Reverend A.D. King of the induction refusal by Mr. Mulloy and how it correlates to many SCLC staff members. Mrs. Braden is sending the letter to Dr. King as well and hopes that Rev. A.D. King will participate in this action.

Letter from Cryssana Jenkins Bogner to MLK

Mrs. Cryssana Jenkins Bogner writes Dr. King with to both support his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement, and to share her discontent with Executive Director of the NAACP Roy Wilkin's stance on the Vietnam War.

Letter from Joan Daves to MLK encluding copy of British magazine SLANT

Joan Daves informs Dr. King that she has enclosed a copy of the British magazine SLANT that has a shortened version of his Riverside Church address inside.

Letter from MLK to Colonel Harold C. Wall

In a letter to Colonel Harold C. Wall, Dr. King writes to appeal the Selective Service case of Thomas E. Houck Jr. He has been classified as 1-A by Local Board #75, meaning he was available for unrestricted service. Dr. King wanted to change Houck's classification to 1-O based on Houck's moral devotion to peace.

Letter from P. A. Riley to MLK

A critic writes Dr. King a carefully constructed letter to share her view on his Vietnam War stance. As a widow of a late Korean War veteran, she claims that Dr. King's position undermines "everything that our fighting men, down thru the long, long, years, have fought and died for." The widow questions Dr. King's combination of civil rights and peace movement issues, and asserts "patriotism is one of the factors free men live and prosper under!"

Letter from the Brotherhood Activities Committee to MLK

The Brotherhood Activities Committee regrets that Dr. King will be unable to attend their speaking engagement. The committee requests that Dr. King provide them with a possible spokesman to speak in his absence. Fred Shuttlesworth and Morgan Collins serve as two primary options to serve the Ohio-West Virginia community.

Meet the Press Interview

This is a transcript of NBC television's Meet the Press interview with Dr. King in August 1967 with Edwin Newman as moderator. King answered questions about his views on the Vietnam conflict, nonviolence, and the presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson.

MLK Announces a New SCLC March in Washington, DC

Dr. King announces the SCLC's decision to lead a non-violent march on Washington protesting the government's lack of support in providing jobs and income for impoverished Americans.

MLK on the Seating of Julian Bond

Georgia State Legislature has refused to seat Representative-Elect Julian Bond. Dr. King expresses his disdain for the social injustice. His plan of action is to combat this prejudice by rallying members of the white and black community to engage in protest.

News/Letter: Atlanta Workshop in Nonviolence

Here is a 1967 newsletter from the Atlanta Workshop in Nonviolence, covering a number of topics including the Vietnam War, the March on Washington, fascism, and non-violent tactical plans.

Spring Mobilization Committee Roundup of Nationwide Mobilization Activity

This document outlines activities around the country leading up to the April 15 Spring Mobilization Against the War in Vietnam rally in New York City.

World Journal Tribune: Dream and Demagogy

The World Journal Tribune writes an article entitled "Dream and Demagogy." The article expounds upon Dr. King's involvement of foreign policy in opposition of the Vietnam War. The authors assert that Dr. King actions have crossed a "thin line" between responsible dissent and irresponsible divisiveness. The article criticizes Dr. King for his political activism and details the military's involvement.