Does your faith support conscientious objectors to war?
Answer: To play on the
words in the question — I would hope that all faith-based believers
would object in conscience to the practice of warfare. However, the
question intends all those who refuse take up arms for any reason. In
so doing, such individuals, usually based on their understanding of
scripture, refuse to follow the government when it has made a
declaration of war. These people refuse to participate in any aspect of
war, including humanitarian works of non-combatant rescue and relief.
Such actions are negative, passive acts of non-cooperation or
disobedience toward the government, based on individual conscience. In
this sense, such a stance may be regarded as anti-social, even disloyal.
The Bahá’í sacred writings repeatedly and emphatically condemn war as
the greatest calamity and tragedy that can overtake humanity. The whole
purpose of the Bahá’í Revelation is to eliminate warfare through the
establishment of the unification of humanity. But this does not mean
that Bahá’ís are “conscientious objectors” in the sense intended by the
question, nor can we be called absolute pacifists.
While Bahá’ís do not voluntarily enlist in the armed forces, if they
know that such an action will lead to the shedding of blood, if they
are asked to bear arms, rather than disobeying a duly-constituted
government, and to show that they are loyal citizens, Bahá’ís request
non-combatant duty, such as nursing, doctoring, ambulance, rescue,
office or administrative work. In so doing, Bahá’ís are not interested
in securing a safe berth from harm, but rather in engaging in social or
humanitarian service, without violating the divine command to take
We should also recognize that in cases of naked aggression, governments
have the duty and right to maintain and preserve the life of their
societies and to protect their peoples from harm, even if this response
means engaging in war. Bahá’ís do not regard the prohibition of
violence to be absolute. In case of naked aggression, “collective
security” demands a forceful response. -