August 17, 2009

Bible-reading soldier refuses to fight

by David Masters

A Christian soldier has been sentenced to a year in confinement and discharged from the US army for refusing to fight in Afghanistan after reading the Bible.

Travis Bishop, 26, previously served for 14 months in Iraq.

He was recently told to deploy to Afghanistan. Before going, he read the Bible “to get right with [his] creator”.

Reading the Bible, he went through a “religious transformation” and realised that all warfare contradicts with his Christian beliefs.

“Through my reading I realized all this goes against what Jesus taught and what all true Christians should believe,” Bishop said.

“I must be opposed to all violence, no matter what, because that is what Jesus taught.”

Three days before his unit deployed, Bishop found out about conscientious objector status. He went AWOL for a week to prepare his CO application.

He then returned to his barracks and filed his application.

The CO process was started, but, at the same time, a Uniform Code of Military Justice process was also started.

In a court martial last week, Bishop was sentenced to a year’s confinement

The prosecution said Bishop’s understanding of the Bible was “a misguided intellectual journey”.

Charges against him included two counts of missing movement, disobeying a lawful order, and going absent without leave (AWOL).

Bishop’s lawyer, James Branum, said the Sergeant was never informed of the option to conscientiously object.

“Travis was never told about his option of conscientious objector status,” Branum said.

“If an enlisted soldier isn’t informed that he has a right, then he effectively does not have that right.

“Just one to two days before he was set to deploy, in the midst of moral questions, he heard about CO status.”

If Bishop is granted CO status, he plans to use it to appeal against his sentence.

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