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Gruppo

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Carnal Circuit(1969)



The Government does not contend that the petitioner's belief in the use of force in self-defense, as well as the defense of his home, family and associates, is so inconsistent with his claim of conscientious objection as to serve as a basis for a denial of his claim.[*] The question here narrows to whether the willingness to use of force in defense of Kingdom interests and brethren is sufficiently inconsistent with petitioner's claim as to justify the conclusion that he fell short of being a conscientious objector. Throughout his selective service form, petitioner emphasized that the weapons of his warfare were spiritual, not carnal. He asserted that he was a soldier in the Army of Jesus Christ and that "the war weapons of the soldier of Jesus Christ are not carnal." With reference to the defense of his ministry, his brethren and Kingdom interests, he asserted that "we do not arm ourselves or carry carnal weapons . . . . I do not use weapons of warfare in defense. . . of Kingdom interests . . . ." In letters to *390 the local Board he reiterated these beliefs. On their face, these statements make it clear that petitioner's defense of "Kingdom Interests" has neither the bark nor the bite of war as we unfortunately know it today. It is difficult for us to believe that the Congress had in mind this type of activity when it said the thrust of conscientious objection must go to "participation in war in any form."




Carnal Circuit(1969)



But the Government urges that these statements of petitioner must be taken in the light of the teachings of Jehovah's Witnesses. While each case must of necessity be based on the particular beliefs of the individual registrant, it is true that the Congress, by relating the registrant's conscientious objection to his religious training and belief, has made the belief of his sect relevant. Moreover, the petitioner does parenthetically say that his belief in the use of force was "as well . . . [the belief of] all Jehovah's Witnesses." On the other hand, though the Government has appended to its brief a copy of the Watchtower magazine of February 1, 1951, we do not find any such literature in the record. It is not at all clear that we may consider such material outside the record to support an Appeal Board decision, cf. Cox v. United States, 332 U.S. 442, 453-455 (1947), but we need not decide that here because in any event there is no substance to the Government's contention. Granting that these articles picture Jehovah's Witnesses as antipacifists, extolling the ancient wars of the Israelites and ready to engage in a "theocratic war" if Jehovah so commands them, and granting that the Jehovah's Witnesses will fight at Armageddon, we do not feel this is enough. The test is not whether the registrant is opposed to all war, but whether he is opposed, on religious grounds, to participation in war. As to theocratic war, petitioner's willingness to fight on the orders of Jehovah is tempered by the fact that, so far as we know, their history records *391 no such command since Biblical times and their theology does not appear to contemplate one in the future. And although the Jehovah's Witnesses may fight in the Armageddon, we are not able to stretch our imagination to the point of believing that the yardstick of the Congress includes within its measure such spiritual wars between the powers of good and evil where the Jehovah's Witnesses, if they participate, will do so without carnal weapons.


*396 This answer clearly shows that the petitioner and his sect will fight for Kingdom Interests, whatever that is, preaching work, their meetings, their fellow brethren and sisters, and their property. They do not, they say, carry carnal weapons in anticipation of attack, but they will use them in case of attack. This evidence clearly supports the District Court's finding of guilt; and the conclusion of the Selective Service Board based on such evidence was an allowable one. 041b061a72


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