conscientious objection

U.S. Anabaptist groups send joint letter to National Commission on Military, National and Public Service

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A Civilian Public Service worker serves patients at New Jersey State Hospital in Marlboro, circa 1945. (Mennonite Central Committee photo via CivilianPublicService.org)

Thirteen Anabaptist church groups in the United States have sent a joint letter to an independent U.S. federal agency making a strong statement of conscientious objection to war and military service, expressing gratitude for religious freedom guaranteed in the U.S. and urging the freedom not to participate in the military.

Conscientious (tax) objectors

Charlotte and Ernie Wiens divert 10 percent of what they owe the government each year to Conscience Canada’s Peace Tax Trust Fund. (Photo by Lori Enns)

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Like other Canadians, every year Ernie and Charlotte Wiens file their taxes.

Unlike others in Canada, the La Salle, Man. farming couple doesn't send the federal government everything it says they owe—the part that violates their conscience.

For Ernie, 72, and Charlotte, 69, that’s the estimated 10 percent of Canada’s budget spent on the military.  

South Korea recognizes rights of COs

SangMin Lee is believed to be the only Korean Mennonite to choose jail over military service. He was released in July 2015, after serving 15 months of an 18-month sentence. In June 2018, the Constitutional Court of Korea ruled against the practice of imprisoning conscientious objectors. (Mennonite World Conference photo)

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The Constitutional Court of Korea brought an end to 70 years of imprisoning conscientious objectors when it ruled June 28 that it is unconstitutional for South Korea not to offer alternative service options for COs.

It is estimated that about 20,000 males have been punished for refusing military service since the first draft laws were enacted in 1950.

Nonviolent action in history and today

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Karen Ridd facilitates the Village Game during her workshop at this year’s Red River Heritage Fair at the University of Winnipeg. (Photo courtesy of the Red River Heritage Fair)

“In the Second World War there were over 10,000 loyal Canadians who served Canada without weapons. What were they called?” This is the question Conrad Stoesz has been asking students at the Red River Heritage Fair for more than a decade.

Carling Heights

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Photo: Mennonite Archives of Ontario

This is the view that greeted Amish Mennonite farm boys Dan and Willie Brenneman when they were apprehended by military police and detained at the Carling Heights Military Camp in London, Ont. Despite their conscientious objector status, they were taken while working in a field in East Zorra Township in May 1918.

Be a CO at tax time

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Religious wars raged in 16th-century Europe between Catholics and Protestants. In northern Holland, Jan Smit was captured by the Catholics and was being pressed into service as an oarsman. His captors commanded him to join a crew of prisoners and row across the lake for a battle against Haarlem.

CO Bunkhouse

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Second World War conscientious objectors (COs) were often sent to provincial parks for manual labour, as part of their alternative service assignments. This photo, taken between 1941-45, depicts Mennonite men getting dressed in their winter clothes around the warmth of a wood stove. Smoke from the stove, with laundry hanging from the rafters, can be seen in the background.

An end to all kinds of wars

Mennonite Central Committee’s 2015 Go Purple postcard

As we celebrated Peace Sunday at my church this week, a friend of mine got up during the time of sharing and prayer. He told us that November has been designated Domestic Violence Awareness month in Manitoba, and that in response, Mennonite Central Committee’s Voices for Non-Violence is involved in the “Purple Lights Campaign” to shed light on domestic violence and work on prevention. You can learn more about it and find ideas on how to get involved here: http://mcccanada.ca/media/resources/1639

Landscapes of war, a people of peace

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Jonathan Seiling, right, consults with Carol Penner, pastor of The First Mennonite Church, Vineland, Ont. on a recent historic tour. (Photo by Melissa Seiling)

The War of 1812 is important to commemorate for many reasons. As the only defensive war fought on Canadian soil in the last two centuries, it was also the first testing of the historic peace churches' position of conscientious objection in Canadian history.

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