Weekly religion news with items on changing who qualifies for "conscientious objection," the political division between white and Latino Catholics, the accompolishments of Albert Schweitzer and more.

The Truth Commission on Conscience in War released a report on Veterans Day fervently urging the U.S. government to expand the Army’s current conscientious objection regulations to include both religious and moral objections to a particular war, like the war in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The wording for conscientious objection requires that a soldier object to “war in any form” in order to qualify. Generally, this includes members of certain religious groups who declare themselves pacifists.

But the TCCW points out the inherent conflict when the military preaches the importance of the “just war” criteria and maintaining a clear moral compass, but forces soldiers who may be religiously or morally conflicted with a certain war to fight in it.

“Forcing service members to act against their own moral consciences denies them their religious freedom,” the report stated. “A right of conscience the Supreme Court extended in 1971 to those whose moral conscience is not religiously based.

Veterans for Rethinking Afghanistan points out that soldiers who are not sure if the war they are fighting meets “just war” criteria can suffer from what the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder calls “moral injury.” Such internal confliction can be spiritually, socially, behaviorally and psychologically devastating.

According to the New York Times, Nidal Malik Hasan, an Army major who is charged with killing 13 people at Fort Hood, Texas in 2009, reportedly felt morally conflicted at the notion of fighting a war against other Muslims. Reportedly, Hasan was told he wouldn’t qualify for contentious objection because he wasn’t against all wars.

The TCCW report states that suicide rates in active duty military members is unprecedented, veteran suicides make up 20 percent of all U.S. suicides and the suicide rate among young veterans has risen 26 percent from 2005 to 2007.

At a public hearing held on March 21, 2010 in New York, the TCCW called in expert witnesses from law, religion, medicine, philosophy and journalism to testify to their own experiences with moral injury.

Written during the Vietnam War, the TCCW wants the conscientious objection wording revised to allow soldiers to object to particular wars. The commission also calls on clergy to get involved.

“Religious communities must also take responsibility for what they teach about the moral conduct of war, become educated in and involved with healing the impact of current CO policies and support expanding the right to moral conscience in war,” the report stated.

Co-sponsors of the report include organizations from around the country, including support from the Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Episcopalian and Presbyterian communities.

Week in Religion

- Nov. 15, 1532, Pope Clemens VII tells Henry VIII to end his relationship with Anna Boleyn.

- Nov. 17, 1277, 680 Jews arrested (293 hanged) in England for counterfeiting coins.

- Nov. 18, 1210, Pope Innocent III excommunicates Roman Catholic Emperor Otto IV.

Survey Says

According to an American Values Survey conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute, white Catholics are more likely than Latino Catholics to support small government. White Catholics are also more likely to say that the U.S. is a Christian nation, and they are less likely to be concerned about equal opportunity than Latino Catholics.

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Get to Know …

Albert Schweitzer (1875 – 1965) was a man devoted to religion, music and education. He earned a doctorate in philosophy in 1899 and published such books as “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” and “Christianity and the Religions of the World.”

He served in Africa as a medical missionary, founded a hospital at Lambarene in French Equatorial Africa, earned his doctorate of medicine at the University of Strasbourg and served as a pastor of a congregation. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

The Word

Abba: An Aramaic word for father, typically used by children when addressing a parent. Jesus used the term when addressing God. "Papa" might be the best translation in English.

-- religioustolerance.org

Religion Around the World

Religious makeup of Angola

Indigenous beliefs: 47 percent

Roman Catholic: 38 percent

Protestant: 15 percent

- CIA Factbook

GateHouse News Service