NEW YORK (Reuters) – A U.S. soldier who said his Christian beliefs compelled him to love his enemies, not kill them, has been granted conscientious objector status and honorably discharged, a civil liberties group said on Tuesday.
Capt. Peter Brown — who served in Iraq for more than a year and was a graduate of the elite U.S. military academy West Point — said in a statement issued by the New York Civil Liberties Union that he was relieved the Army had recognized his beliefs made it impossible for him to serve.
“In following Jesus’ example, I could not have fired my weapon at another human being, even if he were shooting at me,” said Brown, who plans to continue seminary classes he began by correspondence while in Iraq.
While in Iraq, Brown processed insurgents and detainees, the NYCLU said.
Brown said he had no conflict between his faith and military service until after he graduated from West Point in 2004 and began to study scripture and his belief.
During his Iraq deployment he applied for discharge as a conscientious objector but the request was denied, the NYCLU said. In July 2007 the NYCLU and the American Civil Liberties Union asked a federal court in Washington, D.C., to order the honorable discharge.
“Before the court acted, the Army reconsidered the issue, this time granting Brown’s request,” said the NYCLU, adding it would now withdraw the lawsuit.
The U.S. Army was not immediately available for comment.