The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints renounces war and proclaims peace IAW Doctrine and Covenants 98:16. 

The Church sympathizes with members who, on a personal basis, seek relief from military service.  In 1942, the following statement on war was issued by the First Presidency:

The Church is and must be against war.  The Church itself cannot wage war, unless and until the Lord shall issue new commands.  It cannot regard war as a righteous means of settling international disputes; these should and could be settled—the nations agreeing—by peaceful negotiation and adjustment.  But the Church membership are citizens or subjects of sovereignties over which the Church has no control. (Conference Report, Apr. 1942, 94)

Pres. Brigham Young publicly praised Conscientious Objectors (C.O.) at the October general conference after the Civil War:

Multitudes of good and honorable men become enrolled in the contending armies of the present American war, some to gratify a martial pride, and others through a conscientious love of their country; indeed, various are the motives and inducements that impel men to expose themselves upon the field of battle; but a portion of those who are peaceably disposed, and wish not to witness the shedding of the blood of their countrymen, make good their escape from the vicinity of trouble.  It is chiefly this class of men who are now passing through this Territory to other parts, and I think they are probably as good a class of men as has ever passed through this country; they are persons who wish to live in peace, and to be far removed from contending factions.  As far as I am concerned l have no fault to find with them.  (]ournal of Discourses, 10:248)

In a general conference report, Elder Richard L. Evans (President of the Council of Seventy) raised the possibility that Latter-day Saints might choose C.O. when provisions were made in the law to do so:

Some of our young men, and some of our mothers who are called upon to send them forth into service, wonder why they have to go.  There have been some who have urged the Church and its members to declare themselves conscientious objectors.  There may be some merits in this position.  Perhaps we should reserve the right to so declare ourselves at some future time.  I can think of possibilities and circumstances arising for which there could conceivably come some times and conditions for which we might want to reserve that right.  (Conference Report, Apr.1941, p. 42)

And, in 1968:

The existing law provides that men who have conscientious objection may be excused from combat service.  There would seem to be no objection [from the Church], therefore, to a man availing himself on a personal basis of the exceptions provided by law.  (Joseph Anderson, Secretary to the First Presidency, in an official letter to Eugene England Jr., printed in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, III, 1, p. 8 (Spring, 1968))

In a Deseret News editorial, J. Reuben Clark of the First Presidency stated:

The earnest, sincere, loyal conscientious objector, who, because of his religious convictions, asked to be relieved of military service which would necessitate his taking the life of a fellowman, is entitled to his opinion just as much as the man who felt that poison gas should be used and the enemy annihilated completely.  And the chances are that the objector would prove to be the better citizen of the two.  (Deseret News, 11 Sept. 1945)

In 1835, the Saints adopted by unanimous vote the following as the official opinion of the Church (read the section heading):

We believe that all religious societies have a right to deal with their members for disorderly conduct, according to the rules and regulations of such societies; provided that such dealings be for fellowship and good standing; but we do not believe that any religious society has authority to try men on the right of property or life, to take from them this world’s goods, or to put them in jeopardy of either life or limb, or to inflict any physical punishment upon them.  They can only excommunicate them from their society, and withdraw from them their fellowship. (Doctrine and Covenant Section 134 Verse 10)

Religious societies, to include their members, do not have authority to try men for their property, life or liberty. The wicked have this authority because they are agents unto themselves and the Lord has taught His disciples to suffer offense in love and forgiveness. In D&C 64:21 the Lord states, “I will not overthrow the wicked, that thereby I might save some.” The wicked are suffered to rule, to prevail against the righteous, by Christ who has called the Saints to reconcile them through repentance and the missionary effort.

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L. Richard Nielsen

L. Richard Nielsen

L. Richard Nielsen

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