Freedom of Conscience in Time of War
Dear Starr King Friends,
This month, I'll be traveling to New York City,
along with several of our faculty members and students, to participate in an
extraordinary event: the first Truth
Commission on Conscience in War. The public hearing will be held at the
historic Riverside Church, and I hope those of you in New York on March 21 will
join us. (Event website: www.conscienceinwar.org)
How can soldiers exercise individual moral conscience with
respect to specific wars or combat duties and what are the consequences if they
are forced to fight a war they believe is unjust? This is the key question the Commission will
explore. Dr. Gabriella Lettini (bio), Starr
King's Aurelia Henry Reinhardt Professor of Studies in Public Ministry and
Director of our M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change, will guide the
work of the Commissioners in response to testimony from military leaders,
soldiers, veterans and family members. Currently, U.S. military regulations
allow people to register as conscientious objectors (CO's), only if they object
to all wars. No provision allows soldiers to
conscientiously object to a specific war.
What impact does this have on soldiers and their families? What kind of spiritual, emotional, and
psychological support is required when soldiers violate their conscience in the
line of duty? What changes in military policy might be advised in order to
honor the importance of conscience?
The Truth Commission method places first-hand testimony of
human struggles at the center of public discussion of moral issues. Two years
ago, Dr. Lettini led the Poverty Truth Commission in Berkeley, California,
using a similar method to gather testimony from people experiencing poverty.
Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock (bio), Director of Faith Voices for the
Common Good (www.faithvoices.org), and a
Visiting Professor at Starr King School, has been working closely with Dr. Lettini to
organize the Truth Commission, which is now the united effort of Starr King,
Faith Voices, Riverside Church, and Union Theological Seminary. It is being
supported by more than fifty co-sponsoring organizations which are sending
commissioners from all over the country.
Supporting scholars and teachers who advance new
intellectual work on religious and ethical issues is an important dimension of
Starr King's mission. At Starr King,
our faculty members and students are applying their imagination, intellectual
gifts, and organizational skills to produce transformative scholarship that
opens minds and hearts to new questions and more humane ways of life.
If you wish to follow the progress of the Truth
Commission on Conscience in War, visit the website www.conscienceinwar.org or join the group at Facebook.
|In grace and gratitude,
President and Professor of Theology
Your comments and questions are always welcome.
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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We are currently accepting applications for fall 2010
admissions. The final application deadline is May 1. For information on applying
for our M.Div, our M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change, or the Graduate Theological Union Common MA, see How to Apply on sksm.edu.
Our course offerings for 2010-2011 are listed on our website. See the Course Schedule page on www.sksm.edu for current and next year's offerings.