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Psalms 119:105

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Our intention is to provide the following:
1. A basic understanding of the Selective Service System (SSS), registration and possible future draft.
2. Relevant Scriptural references.
3. A short version of suggested religious CO preparation guidelines.
4. A few references and links to related booklets.

1. A basic understanding of the SSS, registration and possible future draft.
a. Federal law requires all males ages 18 through 25 to register, including U.S. citizens and immigrants, documented and undocumented, who are residing in the U.S. (This includes those who are COs). Note: it may be that females with medical training will be included in a possible draft.
b. There is a 60-day window of 30 days before turning 18 and 30 days afterward.
c. There are some penalties for those who do not register i.e. possible denial of federal government employment, possible federal education funding, etc.
d. Currently (as of February, 2023), there is NO draft. However, the federal government continues to provide funding for the SSS. At any time, Congress and the President can declare war or a national emergency in which a draft might be implemented.
e. NOTE: Do Not register via online or any electronic method. You want to create a “paper trail” from the beginning. More on this in item 3.
f. In the past, the SSS has not decided on which one of two different draft call up options they might use. However, for brevity’s sake, one of those options would be to start to issue induction notices for 20-year-old males within 3 days after a draft is initiated. There would be only a 10-day window between a man receiving his 1-A classification and being inducted. It is in this extremely short window of time that another form must be requested and filed with the SSS, by which you would register your religious CO position. It is not clear as of this writing which method, or even a different method, might be used. The important point is this: THERE WOULD BE AN INCREDIBLY SHORT PERIOD OF TIME FOR YOU TO TRY TO START TO UNDERSTAND OR DOCUMENT YOUR RELIGIOUS CO POSITION. More on this in item 3.
g. SSS does allow for COs to engage in “Alternative Service Programs.” This is if you are successful in proving your religious CO conviction when called before a Draft Board. Besides submitting the proper form, you will be required to appear before a local board of SSS trained questioners. They will ask several questions that you must answer verbally regarding your religious CO convictions. For example: What is your CO belief? When did you develop this belief? How did you arrive at this belief and how are you living your day-to-day life in harmony with your CO beliefs? You will also be able to present any written documentation of your belief. If you are denied CO status at this hearing, you may appeal.
h. The SSS has a very easy to navigate website. To read more on CO information, go to this site. In the search area on the top right of the home page, type in “conscientious objection.” Follow the prompts.
i. On registering, as mentioned in point “e” above, they offer you a possibility to register online. Do not do that. Ideally you can obtain a registration form at the Post Office. However, if the local Postmaster has not ordered any forms, then you can print out a paper registration form on the SSS site. Fill it out and mail it in. (Please see more on this in item 3.)
j. In the words of the SSS: “A CO is one who is opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles.”

2. A short list of relevant Scriptural references.
Gen. 9:6 “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.”
Matt. 5:39, 44 “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
Matt. 7:12 “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the law and the Prophets.”
Luke 6:27-33 “But I tell you who hear me: love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
John 18:36 “Jesus said: my kingdom is not of this world, if it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Acts 5:29 “…We must obey God rather than men.”
Romans 12:19 “Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord.”
Romans 13:8, 10 “Let no debt remain outstanding except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.”
I Corinthians 4:12 “…When we are cursed, we bless, when we are persecuted, we endure it.”
I Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it done not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trust, always hopes, always perseveres.”
II Corinthians 10:4 “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world…”
Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”
Philippians 3:20 “But our citizenship is in heaven.”
I Thessalonians 5:15 “Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.”
I Peter 2:21-23 “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth. When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate, when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

3. A short list of suggested religious CO preparation guidelines.
a. Why should anyone be concerned about a possible future draft?
The scriptures indicate that there is to be the greatest time of trouble, in which no flesh might be saved, unless the Elect (The Christ in glory) intervenes and stops the madness. The “birth-pangs” involving the removal of the Old Heavens and Earth, and the in-coming New Heavens and Earth, will increase in severity until the climax is reached.
The current completely unexpected ground, sea and air war in Europe continues to escalate. This is a sad but very real example of how fast events can change. Many military analysts predict a not-too-distant war with China.
Prophetic events are very difficult to understand in detail before they transpire. Yet, as scripture states it: “wisdom is justified by her children.” Planning and effort now, before a possible draft, will result in a far better prepared CO and a much better opportunity of success in demonstrating one’s claim if the need arises.

b. Who should be interested in this?
Perhaps the first ones to be concerned and alert are parents, grandparents, and elders. Study the subject of Christian responsibility towards war and military service (there are several good booklets on this, listed below) in order to work with the young people in your sphere of influence. Read the listed scriptures above together and ask questions to encourage the young people to thoughtfully consider what the Word of God is instructing us on how to live as a follower of Jesus.
To our young people reading this, it is really you that we hope to encourage in your thoughtful consideration on this matter of being a CO. As the name implies, it is YOUR conscience that matters. It is YOUR convictions that are important. We offer these scriptures and guidelines in order that YOU may make scripturally informed decisions.
Read the scriptures. Give them meaningful consideration. Pray on It. Talk to those who you have confidence in about it. By expressing your thoughts you are helping to formulate your own beliefs on this.

C. What to do when you need to register.
Be sure to use a paper registration form. Do NOT file electronically. If possible, go to a Post Office that has the forms and a photo-copy machine. Fill out the form and print in the margin: “I am a religious Conscientious Objector to participation in war in any form.” Then ask the Postal clerk to sign and date the form, and then let you make a photocopy of the form before turning in the original form. The Post Office will deliver your form to the SSS. They will input your information electronically. They will most likely NOT input your CO claim at that time. However, by your keeping the copy of your original form, you have a personal record in case you need to go before a SSS board in the future. Even if the Postal clerk does not cooperate with signing your original form, make a photo-copy of it before mailing it in.
Some Post offices may not stock the paper registration forms. They may tell you that you can only register online. However, you can go to the SSS webpage and print out the registration form, fill it out and write in the margin the same as stated above. Make a photo-copy and then mail it in.
In approximately 30 days after you have registered, you will receive a letter of acknowledgement and a separate change of information form. Fill out the change of information form, printing on it that you request Selective Service to give you a Conscientious Objector’s classification. Sign and write the date on the form. Make a photocopy of this form and return it by certified mail, return receipt requested. Once again, the SSS will probably not include your stated CO claim in their record keeping. However, you will have your copy along with the return receipt date to put in your file.
Also, be sure to keep your letter of acknowledgement that you did register.

D. After you have registered, what you need to do if there is a draft:
As stated above, as of this writing it is not certain what method of notifying potential inductees there might be. However, it is probable that a man with a low draft lottery number will receive a notice in about 3 days from a draft being authorized. The notice may state that you would be required to report for induction, or report for a physical. If you are required to go for a physical, this should be followed. However, when you first receive your notice you need to request a form that will allow you to state your Religious Conscientious Objection to participation in war or the military. Perhaps this will be available at the Post Office or as a download from the SSS website. In the past this was a form 9. If it is the same, you need to fill it out and check any of the draft exemptions you may qualify for. Mail form 9 registered mail, return receipt requested, to the Area Office shown on the induction notice.
If it is as previously expressed by the SSS, the next form necessary is form 22—the Conscientious Objector Questionnaire. This needs to be immediately filled out and mailed, registered mail, return receipt requested.
If it is as previously expressed by the SSS, the next step is to appear before a Local Claim Board for a hearing. This is when you will express your reasons for being a religious CO. This is when you will present your “paper trail” file of evidence that your religious CO conviction has been long standing and demonstrable. Sincerity of belief and some tangible evidence of your expressed CO position will go a long way in your presentation.
If it is as in the past, if you are denied a CO position, you may appeal.

E. Preparations before a possible draft.
In all your preparations, keep in mind that you need to consider two aspects. First, are you opposed to being a combatant? Secondly, are you opposed to being a non-combatant (medical, maintenance, etc..), in the military. If you are opposed to both—combatant and non-combatant military service—you will need to make that plain, first in your letter, and later, if you are called before a SSS Board. In stating that you are opposed to any military service, it is good to state that you are willing to perform alternative service (in the past this has been a two year service). Alternative Service Program (ASP) includes civilian work contributing to the maintenance of the national health, safety or other interest of the United States.
Read and contemplate on the relevant Scriptures listed above and any other Scriptures that are related to this subject.
Write a letter stating the reasons for your religious CO conviction. Have this letter notarized. Make several copies and give a copy to an elder in your Ecclesia, as well as mailing one to the current brother who is the Chairman for The Bible Students National Committee for Religious Conscientious Objectors. As of this writing it is Br. Michael Balko, 321 Kentia Rd., Casselberry, Fl 32707.
If it is possible to attend a CO meeting either in an Ecclesia or Convention, have printed evidence of your attendance, preferably signed by an attending elder.
Keep paper Convention Programs. Have one or more of the elders speaking, as listed on the Program, sign it, stating they saw you in attendance.
If you can incorporate CO or religious beliefs into your school papers that you can keep in your file, this is a great witness to your convictions.
In the Zoom Convention era, at times they have a screen shot photo of the brethren in attendance. Try to be in that photo and print it out with the Convention program and dates.
If you attend Youth Seminars or Camps, also keep these programs and have them signed by elders in attendance.
The longer the time period in which you can demonstrate your religious CO conviction, the better.
Take note of any activities that would be evidences of your being different than those your age in the world, those who do not have a religious conscience toward God and Jesus.
It cannot be stressed enough that it is your conscience. You want to try to express your convictions clearly, that supporting the military in any aspect would a severe struggle in your mind and heart.
Please reflect on the following statement and determine if this might represent your belief: we believe in restraining force under certain circumstances but never with the intent to injure.
You should be very familiar with Bible Student core doctrinal beliefs. If you do decide that you are religiously opposed to participation in war and the military, you might be called upon to express (without just reading notes) what your understanding is of God’s plans or purposes and how this relates to your CO conviction.
A few fundamental statements you might build upon:
• Love and obedience to God first.
• Love for your fellow human (the golden rule, do unto others as you would have them do to you).
• The only solution to the world’s problems is God’s future Kingdom of peace and justice for all.

4. A few references and links to related booklets.
a. Reprint 5928 “Conscience And The War”

b. Website “Center on Conscience and War.” On this site Bible Students have several statements of our position on religious CO conviction as an Association of Bible Students.

c. Link to “Early Christian View of War and Military Service.”

d. Link to “The Association of Bible Students – Its Historic Position Toward War.”