Types of Draft Resistance

Conscientious Objection

The third way, conscientious objection, was the path of choice for those young men who objected to killing, but were willing to work within the government bureaucracy. To be a conscientious objector, a young man must: (1) be "religious," (2) object to all wars; and (3) be sincere in his or her application. Some men, such as Seventh Day Adventists, were willing to work for the military in noncombatant roles. They got classified as I-A-O. But most didn't want to be in the army at all, and so got classified as I-O, and went to work in hospitals and poverty programs or for the AFSC.

It is no secret that draft boards, for the most part, asked a number of trick questions designed to show that the registrant has no objection to killing but is mainly concerned with avoiding military service. For example, the draft board examiner might ask "What would you do if you saw your mother threatened with a knife by an intruder?" The registrant could answer that he would defend her with any means he had, to any extent necessary, including killing the adversary. In requesting conscientious objector status, it was not required that a person be an absolute pacifist.

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