GI Rights Hotline

Military Discharges and Military Counseling

Call 1-877-447-4487


Comments: To view or download the complete regulation, click on the the link to it in the box above these comments.

1. Policy. Members may be separated on the basis of Conscientious Objection when their religious training and belief have a firm, fixed, and sincere objection of their participation in war in any form, or the bearing of arms.

2. Burden of Proof. The applicant bears the burden of proving their claim of conscientious objection as grounds for separation, or assignment to noncombatant training and service. They must show, by clear and convincing evidence

a. the nature or basis of their claim comes within the definition and criteria prescribed herein; and

b. their belief in connection therewith is honest, sincere, and deeply held. They also have the burden of determining and setting forth the exact nature of their request (i.e., whether for separation based on conscientious objection (1-0); or for assignment to noncombatant training and service based on conscientious objection (1-A-0).

3. Conditions or Restrictions

a. After entering the naval service, a request for discharge based solely on conscientious objection, which existed but was not claimed prior to enlistment or notice of induction, shall not be considered when such beliefs satisfied the requirements if

(1) classification as a conscientious objector under Section 6(j) of the Universal Military Training and Service Act, as amended (50 U.S.C 456) and related provisions of law; and

(2) the member failed to request classification as a conscientious objector by the Selective Service System (SSS); or

(3) if their request for classification as a conscientious objector before entering military service was denied on the merits by the SSS and their present request for classification as a conscientious objector is based on essentially the same grounds; or

(4) supported by essentially the same evidence, as the request which was denied by the SSS.

b. Claims growing out of the experiences prior to entering military service but which did not become fixed until after entry into the service will not be considered.

c. All claims of conscientious objection will be judged by SSS standards used in determining 1-0 or 1-A-0 classification of draft registrants prior to induction. Subject to the limitations set forth above, an application for conscientious objector status may be approved for any member who is conscientiously opposed to participation in war, in any form, when opposition is founded on "religious training and belief" as defined in MILPERSMAN 1900-010, and whose position is sincere and deeply held.

d. A true conscientious objector must be against all wars, rather than a specific war.

4. Applicant's Proof of Moral and Ethical Beliefs. The applicant must show that moral and ethical beliefs are against participation in war, in any form, that these beliefs have directed their life in the way traditional religious convictions of equal strength, depth, and duration have directed the lives of those whose beliefs are clearly found in traditional religious convictions.

5. Primary Factors

a. A primary factor to be considered is the sincerity with which the belief is held. Great care must be exercised in determining whether asserted beliefs are honestly and genuinely held. Sincerity is determined by an impartial evaluation of the applicant's thinking and living in its totality, past and present.

b. Care must be exercised in determining the integrity of belief and the consistency of application.

c. Information presented by the applicant should be sufficient to convince that the applicant's personal history reveals views and actions strong enough to demonstrate the belief upon which conscientious objection is based is the primary controlling force in their life and that expediency or avoidance of military service is not the basis of their claim.

d. The conduct of an applicant, in particular their outward manifestation of the beliefs asserted, will be carefully examined and given substantial weight in evaluating the application.

6. Relevant Factors

a. Relevant factors to consider in determining applicant's claim of conscientious objector include

(1) training in the home and church;

(2) general demeanor and pattern of conduct which supports asserted beliefs;

(3) participation in religious activities;

(4) whether ethical or moral convictions were gained through training, study, contemplation, or other activity comparable in rigor and dedication to the processes by which traditional religious convictions are formulated;

(5) credibility of the applicant; and

(6) credibility of persons supporting the claim. (i.e., Applicant made some major commitments during the time their beliefs were developing which are inconsistent with their claim. Application as a conscientious objector shortly after applying and denied for a special Navy program - or becoming aware of the prospect of hazardous or other undesirable duty. Taking the military oath of office shortly before applying for conscientious objector status may be evidence of insincerity in a given case.) These examples are noteworthy because of their frequent recurrence. The potential relevant areas of inquiry are limitless.

b. An applicant claiming 1-0 status will not be granted 1-A-0 status as a compromise. An applicant may be assigned noncombatant status if the record clearly indicates beliefs such that the applicant is qualified as a noncombatant, but not for discharge as a conscientious objector.

c. Particular care must be exercised not to deny the existence of bona fide beliefs simply because those beliefs are incompatible with one's own. Church membership or adherence to particular theological tenets are not required to warrant separation or assignment to noncombatant training and service for conscientious objectors. Mere affiliation with a church or other group, which advocates conscientious objection as a tenet of its creed, is not necessarily determinative of an applicant's position or belief. Conversely, affiliation with a church or group which does not teach conscientious objection beliefs in any given case. Where an applicant is or has been a member of a church, religious organization, or religious sect, and where their claim of conscientious objection is related to such membership, inquiry may properly be made as to the fact of membership and the teaching of the church, religious organization, or religious sect, as well as the applicant's religious activity. The fact that the applicant may disagree with, or not subscribe to, some of the tenets of their church does not necessarily discredit their claim. The personal convictions of each applicant will be controlling so long as they derive from their moral, ethical, or religious beliefs. An applicant who is otherwise eligible for conscientious objector status may not be denied that status simply because their conscientious objection influences their views concerning the nation's domestic or foreign policies. The task is to decide whether the beliefs professed are sincerely held and whether they govern the claimant's actions in both word and deed.

7. Classification of Conscientious Objectors. Conscientious objectors are classified as

a. 1-0: a person who by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation of any kind of war - in any form.

b. 1-A-0: a person who by reason of conscientious objection, sincerely objects to participation as a combatant in any war in any form, but whose convictions are such as to permit military service in a noncombatant status.


9. Procedures for Requesting Classification as a Conscientious Objector. Use the following format to apply for designation as a Conscientious Objector:
From:    (Rate/full name/class/SSN)
To:    Navy Personnel Command (PERS-832 for Enlisted)/(PERS-834 for Officers)
Via:    Commanding Officer, (command)
Ref:    (a) MILPERSMAN 1900-020
1.    I request (discharge -or- assignment to noncombatant services/duties) on the grounds of conscientious objection. The following required information is provided:
     a. Permanent home address:
     b. School and colleges attended after age 16:
     School Name/Address    Type School    Inclusive Dates
     c. Chronological list of all compensated and uncompensated jobs held after age 16:
     Employer/Address    Type Work    Inclusive Dates
     d. All residences after age 16:
     Address/City/State    Inclusive Dates
     e. Spouse and member's parents' names/address and religion/sect (if deceased, so state):
     f. I (made/did not make) application to the Selective Service System (local board) for classification as a conscientious objector prior to entry into the Armed Forces. (If application was made, list local board and decision made by the board - if known.)
     g. A description of the nature of my belief: (Thoroughly explain the nature of the belief, which requires you to seek separation from the Navy or assignment to noncombatant services/duties by reason of conscientious objection.)
     h. Explanation of how my belief changed/developed: (Includes factors (how/when/from whom/from what source training was received) and the beliefs acquired or which caused the change in or development of conscientious objector beliefs.)
     i. Explanation of when and why these beliefs became incompatible with military service:
     j. Explanation of the circumstances under which I believe in the use of force, under any foreseeable circumstances (if none, so state):
     k. Explanation of how my current life style has changed as a result of my belief, and the future actions I plan to continue my support of these beliefs:
     l. Explanation of what, in my opinion, most conspicuously demonstrates the consistency and depth of beliefs which gave rise to this application:
     m. Prior service (if any; if none, so state):
     Military Service    Inclusive Dates    Type Discharge
     n. The following information is provided regarding my religious sect or organization:
     Religious Sect/ Organization    Name & Location of Governing Body/Head    Name & Location of Church, Congregation Customarily Attending    Level of Participation
Explain when, where, and how you became of member of said sect or organization.
     o. Information on the pastor or leader of my (church, congregation, or meeting):
     Name    Title    Address
     p. A description of the creed or official statements (if any, and if known) of said religious sect or organization in relation to participation in war:
NOTE: Members will submit a signed copy of the following privacy act statement with their application:
     q. A description of my relationship with and activities in all organizations with which I am or have been affiliated (since age 16), other than military, political, or labor organizations:
2. Enclosures (1) - ( ) (as applicable) provide additional information, references, or official statements which I desire you to consider in review of this application.

10. Required Interviews

a. A chaplain and psychiatrist or clinical psychologist, who are members of a regular or reserve component of any of the Armed Forces, will personally interview the applicant. A written report must be provided by both and attached as enclosures and part of the case file. If the applicant refuses to participate, is uncooperative, or unresponsive in the course of these interviews, this fact will be included in their statements.

b. The chaplain will provide opinion of the nature and basis of the applicant's claim, sincerity, and depth of conviction in the claim of conscientious objection, and a recommendation of disposition with the rationale for the conclusion.

c. The psychiatrist or clinical psychologist will provide a report or psychiatric disorders which would warrant treatment or disposition through medical channels or such personality disorder which would warrant recommendation for appropriate administrative separation action. Comments concerning the sincerity or credibility of the applicant's claimed convictions may also be included.

d. Both interviewing officers will provide their personal impressions of the applicant, such as demeanor and manner in which they answer questions. Consideration should be given to all background information and any outward manifestations, which tend to support or rebut the applicant's claim.

e. Applicants should be carefully evaluated to ensure they are not objecting to military service solely on the basis of a false premise. (Example - applicant may state they cannot serve because they are opposed to murder, organized killing for the sake of ideology, military ventures to gain territory or national wealth, and similar reasons which they indicate to be policies of the Government or the Armed Forces). Political opposition to national policies is not necessarily an indication of an applicant's objection to war on a moral, ethical, or religious basis.


13. The Hearing

a. The hearing will be informal in character and the rules of evidence employed by court-martial do not apply, except that all oral testimony presented shall be under oath or affirmation. Any relevant evidence may be received. Statements obtained from persons not present at the hearing need not be made under oath or affirmation. The hearing is not an adversary proceeding.

b. A verbatim record of the hearing is not required. If the applicant desires such a record and agrees to provide it at their own expense, it may be done. If elected, a copy will be provided to the IO at the conclusion of the hearing and at no expense to the government. The IO will summarize the testimony of witnesses and permit the applicant or their counsel to examine the summaries and note for the record their differences from the IO's summary.

14. Applicants' Rights at Hearing

a. They are entitled, at their own expense, to be represented by counsel who shall be permitted to be present at the hearing, assist the applicant in the presentation of their case, and examine all items in the file.

b. They may submit additional evidence (including sworn/unsworn statements), and present witnesses in their own behalf; but they are responsible for securing their attendance. The installation or local commander shall render all reasonable assistance in making available witnesses requested by the applicant. The applicant is permitted to question any other witnesses who appear and to examine all items in the file.


17. Characterization of Service

a. Officers: Honorable

b. Enlisted: Honorable, unless a General (Under Honorable Conditions) or Entry Level Separation is warranted in MILPERSMAN 1910-300.