The Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act has passed the Senate as of June 14th. This bill is of particular interest to Quakers in that one of the provisions would open the draft to all genders and require women 18-26 to register for the Selective Service, as men currently do at age 18. Failure or refusal to register for the Selective Service can result in loss of various forms of federal aid.
Many Quakers have historically been, and continue to be conscientious objectors. Conscientious objectorship requires proving a faith based conviction, or deeply held personal belief against war and participation in war. Friends General Conference offers Raising Conscientious Objector Consciousness among Our Youth a curriculum for first day schools and youth programs to help young people identify their core beliefs and individual convictions regarding war. For those who wish to be able to prove conscientious objectorship if a draft is ever enacted, the curriculum provides guidance in developing supportive evidence of their beliefs for a draft board.
With this bill currently moving through Congress, it’s an important time for individual meetings to reflect on what support we are offering our young people as they consider their beliefs, we at FGC hope this curriculum can be helpful for your meeting young and old to consider their core beliefs around war, and how we can support each other and especially the young people in our meetings around this issue regardless of individual’s beliefs are.
Now the bill will move into a conference committee of the House and the Senate to produce a final version of the bill. An amendment to add women to the draft had passed the House, but was stripped from the final version of the bill.
See the full curricula here.