Honoring 42 Years of Mission Readiness
Conscientious objector status may be requested by any member of the military who has a sincere objection to war of any kind. Guidance is provided in DOD Instruction 1300.06 (Conscientious Objectors).
Department of Defense Instruction - 1300.06
While conscientious objector status began as a religious accommodation and is most frequently used by men and women of faith, a military member seeking this status need not cite a religious motive or possess religious beliefs, in accordance with the Supreme Court's decisions in U.S. v Seeger, 380 U.S. 163 (1965) and Welsh v. United States, 398 U.S. 333 (1970). Paragraph 3.2 of the DODI states:
"[d]eeply held moral or ethical beliefs should be valued with the strength and devotion of traditional religious conviction. The term ’religious training and/or belief’ may include solely moral or ethical beliefs even though the applicant may not characterize these beliefs as ’religious’ in the traditional sense, or may expressly characterize them as not religious."
Section 5.2 of DODI 1300.06 explores this more thoroughly. Paragraph 22.214.171.124 states:
"Religious organization membership or adherence to particular theological tenets are not required to warrant separation or assignment to non-combatant training and service for conscientious objectors."
Note also that paragraph 126.96.36.199 states that a military member’s desire to seek CO status may not be judged solely on what his or her faith group tenets may be with regard to objections to war:
"...affiliation with a religious organization or group that does not teach conscientious objection does not necessarily rule out adherence to conscientious objection beliefs in any given case."
Military chaplains should take note of paragraph 7.2, which states:
"The chaplain should ensure the applicant is made aware that the conversation is not privileged and will be used in an official report."
Each Service possesses its own instruction or regulation regarding conscientious objection, all of which echo the wording of DODI 1300.06.Army
ARMY REGULATION 600-43
AIR FORCE INSTRUCTION 36-3204