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UNITED STATES v. GARDINER

January 21, 1970

UNITED STATES of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Charles Edward GARDINER, Defendant


Weinstein, District Judge.


The opinion of the court was delivered by: WEINSTEIN

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

WEINSTEIN, District Judge.

 Upon completion of his non-jury trial for failure to submit to induction (50 U.S.C. App. ยง 462(a)), defendant moves for judgment of acquittal. For the reasons below, decision must be reserved and the matter remanded to the Selective Service System for further consideration, while this Court retains jurisdiction.

 I. FACTS

 Defendant, Charles Edward Gardiner, registered with his local Selective Service board in 1962. At that time, he made no claim to conscientious objector status. Until August, 1966, he was classified II-S, as a student. Although a student, he was then reclassified I-A. An order to report for induction was sent January 17, 1967, but was rescinded simultaneously by the action of the local board in classifying him I-S, as a student entitled to complete the school year. In May of that year, defendant submitted Form 150, the Special Form for Conscientious Objector. In this form and its accompanying twelve typewritten pages of explanatory material, defendant requested a I-O classification, as a conscientious objector available for non-military national service.

 The defendant summarized his opposition to participation in, or support of, war in any form by stating in part:

 
Consequently, I admit my obligation to law, and more specifically to my country, but unhesitatingly declare my precedent and superior responsibility to act in a manner consistent with my conscience, with the message I receive from the Bible, and from all other methods of awareness of the demands made upon me by the Supreme Being. In any conflict of loyalties, I must declare my greater loyalty to Christ and to his way. * * * I not only refuse to carry or use and [sic, any?] object designed and intended to inflict harm or incite fear in another human being, but I as conscientiously and as heartily refuse to act in any position of support, direct or indirect, of those who do use such objects.

 He traced the development of his religious beliefs, beginning with his family, and categorized this training as "predominantly within the tradition of conservative, fundamentalist Christianity." Major influences upon his development as a conscientious objector included early religious association with the Baptist Church, the example of his parents, and education at Houghton College, a Wesleyan Methodist institution, where he regularly participated in religious activities. He stated that he had not engaged in vocal expression of his beliefs, expressing a desire to "avoid the street corner praying (Matthew 6:1-7)" and a suspicion "of street corner conscientious objectionism." Throughout, there is a rejection of the concepts of force or violence.

 At the same time that this material was submitted, the Rector and his Assistant Minister at the Church which the defendant attended at graduate school wrote the local board to express their belief in the validity and sincerity of the defendant's claim. The only evidence in the file scrutinized by the local board that tends to cast any doubt on the defendant's claim is an ambiguous letter written by the Dean of Students of Houghton College, which reads in part:

 
I have been giving the matter before me serious thought and have reached a decision other than I thought was possible when last we talked on the telephone. I am sorry that I cannot help you in this matter. * * *
 
Had it been that you would have demonstrated the kind of image here on Houghton College campus that you now attempt to describe, I might well have been able to help you with this matter. However, as you are no doubt well aware, as I have given myself time to reflect upon your years with us here, I cannot satisfy myself that I could sincerely feel that I was sharing the whole truth.

 This letter is to be contrasted with that of a Minister of the Church which the defendant attended while at graduate school, Edward A. Dougherty, Jr., who wrote, in part:

 
I have known Mr. Gardiner for over 2 years and remain convinced of his sincerity, depth of conviction and religious motivation. I have known Mr. Gardiner as his Minister and friend and do not understand how he could be refused a I-O classification.
 
Mr. Gardiner attended religiously sponsored schools, was raised in a conservative Baptist home, and has continued to maintain his religious convictions in the midst of a student body in which maintenance of a conviction is not the thing to do. Mr. Gardiner has always been a total pacifist which, again, is not a popular, nor easily maintained conviction. He has told me ...

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