CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTOR

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“Richardson pfc. ruled conscientious objector 

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal judge has ordered that a Fort Richardson soldier be granted conscientious objector status and an honorable discharge.

The decision by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick supersedes the Army’s decision last year to deny Pfc. Michael Barnes’ request. Barnes had told the Army that he experienced a religious awakening in Iraq two years ago that left him opposed to war in any form.

Sedwick said military investigators failed to provide “a basis in fact” to support their contention that Barnes’ religious objections to war were insincere.

Sedwick considered testimony from Barnes, as well as a chaplain, a psychiatrist and fellow soldiers in overturning the Army’s decision.

Barnes, a 26-year-old Portland, Ore., native, said Monday in a statement released by his lawyer that he was thankful to the federal courts in Anchorage for finding that his request was based on “my sincere belief as a Christian.”

Barnes enlisted in the Army for five years in March 2005 with the stated goal of “defending freedom and helping other people in countries no one else would help.”

In a 16-page ruling, the judge noted evidence of how Barnes’ faith grew stronger after he arrived in Iraq in September 2006. Soldiers in his unit testified that he became increasingly withdrawn, devoting much of his spare time to reading the Bible.

“I have been trying to justify being a soldier and finding a way to do so while still being a Christian, because that is what I wanted to do since I was a kid,” Barnes wrote in his request for conscientious objector status in December 2006.

“But I can no longer justify spending my short time in this world participating in or supporting war. … I must try to save souls, not help take them. I fear not for my life, but for my soul.”

Barnes remained in Iraq with the 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team through the duration of the unit’s 15-month deployment. The brigade returned to Anchorage last November. He is now stationed in the Lower 48.”

Source:  2008 Article from the Military Times

 

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