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jca's avatar

Do all Mormons get out of required military service (aka The Draft) like Mitt Romney did?

Asked by jca (29318 points ) August 4th, 2012

Mitt Romney avoided going to Vietnam because he was a Mormon. Do all Mormons get out of military service? I think I heard that Amish do.

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24 Answers

Kayak8's avatar

There is a very complete discussion of this topic here. Thanks for asking the question as it made me curious . . .

ETpro's avatar

Romney is more disgusting to me than most who seek religious deferments. He sought deferments and went to France to do missionary work—to France? Meanwhile, he was very vocal in supporting US involvement and escalation in Vietnam. He was passionate to send others there, but determined not to go himself.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

I know that if your religion doen’t allow you to kill or maim, they will put you in a non-combat role. Basicly sticking you in a desk job.

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro There are indeed American Mormons at large in Europe. We entertained a pair once while in Italy, where they look even more out of place than they do Stateside. We asked them what they believed, but they couldn’t tell us in English – they had memorized a spiel in Italian, and that was it.

Have you considered the possibility that a Mormon might support a thing personally, but not be allowed by the rules of his faith? The world has many hypocrites, but not everyone is a hypocrite all of the time. The rules of your faith aren’t just things that you throw away when they’re inconvenient, you know. For a healthy Christian, at least, the faith supersedes even the laws of the land, when they conflict.

DominicX's avatar

As far as I’m concerned, good for anyone who finds an excuse to get out of the draft. I have so little support for compulsory military service that I couldn’t care less about what excuse Romney came up with.

As for whether or not he was hypocritical, I don’t know. If your faith conveniently allows you to get out of possibly being killed, who wouldn’t take advantage of it?

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t think there is any special legislation affecting who can get out of military service. Basically, we all can, even atheists, as conscientious objectors. There are other rules too, like deferments for going to college, and perhaps there is a missionary deferment (though I didn’t know about one).

@Nullo: Mormonism is dogmatic, and a natural consequence of being dogmatic is contradiction. Hence the notion that someone who is supposedly “pro-life” becomes an ardent Republikan, or the idea that a conservative can simultaneously oppose big government while policing morality. Hell, Mormonism is just plain weird on top of being dogmatic – it’s historically weirder than it is today, given that Romney’s ancestor had numerous wives under a very, uh, ultra-traditional definition of marriage. However, I don’t see any hypocrisy here – if Mormons feel that ministering is more important than their military service, it’s a legitimate theological position – a silly one, perhaps, if you agree with any war, but a legitimate one.

woodcutter's avatar

I wish military service was compulsory to be able to be president. That would separate the wheat from the chafe.

ETpro's avatar

@Nullo I have a hard time with a guy who claims that his faith doesn’t allow him to serve in the military but compels him to push for everyone else to do so and brand those who don’t for religious reasons as cowards. Sorry, but I know Mittsey way too well from his time here in Massachusetts. No sale.

bolwerk's avatar

@woodcutter: it would be preferable if military service disqualified people from being president, at least for a few decades. It would help keep the military beneath civil authority. The USA shouldn’t strive to be Imperial Rome.

@ETpro: Mitt Romney is openly sociopathic. He should be regarded as a comical sideshow like Ron Paul or Alex Jones, not a serious contender for high office.

phaedryx's avatar

(After some googling around)

During the Vietnam war each ward (church unit similar to a parish or congregation) was allowed to send 1 missionary every 6 months. However, there were typically many more young men in a ward than that. Those who didn’t go on Mormon missions were eligible for the draft. There were many Mormons who served in the war. Also, being on a Mormon mission only deferred the draft; after they were done with their mission they were eligible.

The decision of whether or not to be in the military is left up to the individual. I found this list of Mormons in the military.

ETpro's avatar

@phaedryx The decision of whether or not to be in the military was not left up to the individual when Mitt Romney and I were young men. You had to register and either serve of find some way to get a deferment. I joined the Navy. Rush, Romney and a bunch of other Republican Chicken Hawks all found ways to get deferments so they could survive to send other people’s kids off to wars they loved for somebody else to fight.

phaedryx's avatar

@bolwerk In my experience it is the opposite. The people I know who have fought in wars hated the experience and would be much less likely to send others into war.

phaedryx's avatar

@ETpro I should clarify, when I said “the decision of whether or not to be in the military is left up to the individual” I was referring to what I’d found about Mormon policy. The government’s policy was obviously different: every capable young man whether they wanted to or not.

Nullo's avatar

@ETpro I’m not selling anything but the benefit of the doubt. You have no doubt, so naturally you are uninterested in the benefit.

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bkcunningham's avatar

@jca, what you heard isn’t entirely true. Romney’s first deferment for college was an activity in study deferment. It wasn’t unusual actually. When I was in 6th grade, I had three male teachers. Do you want to guess why there was an influx of male teachers in the late-1960s? Activity in study deferments from the Vietnam draft. People write these editorial/opinion pieces attacking Romney for avoiding being part of the US military during the Vietnam era, why not attack him and the thousands of other young men for the activity of study deferments they received for a college education? Why attack him for his religion? I understand he is a candidate for the highest office in the land. So if we are vetting candidates, let’s give them both a fair shake and see what falls out of their college day closets.

jca's avatar

@bkcunningham: If you are accusing me of attacking Mitt Romney in my question, I just re-read it and see no attack. I am asking a question. I put no personal opinion in my question here.

bkcunningham's avatar

@jca, I didn’t accuse you of attacking Romney. I said, “People write these editorial/opinion pieces attacking Romney…”

jca's avatar

@bkcunningham: Ok gotcha. I took that from where you said “Why attack him for his religion?” I was thinking “where did I attack him?”

bolwerk's avatar

@phaedryx: sure that happens, but at least as often the type of person who self-selects for the military is likely to be more belligerent and less thoughtful. It really would make sense to guarantee some distance from the military, as an institution, as a requirement for the presidency. Making military service a prerequisite is extremely undesirable for pretty obvious reasons, at the very least because it creates a special class of people who can be president.

woodcutter's avatar

Candidates who’ve seen combat or at the very least know how to lead people VS buying them,is a good qualifier to become president. They know firsthand about sending someone else’s kid off to die and may give it more of a fight against the war hawks who are itching to go. Pussies who have never had these experiences should never be commander in chief that includes females.

Mr_Paradox's avatar

@woodcutter My female cousin was in Civil Affairs in the Army during Desert Storm. She got into more combat situations than you would think. She is in no way a “pussie”. Keep THAT in mind. Now before you go spouting of about how females should not be commander and chief remember Jessica Lynch. Captured by the ENEMY. Terrifying enough being male, but female in a country where womn are often treated as lower beings would cause some people to crack. She didn’t. She knows what it is like to not know if that day could be your last. Unlike most military personel. For every front line soldier there are about three people in non-combat roles. So before you start saying things like that think a little. Nothing disgusts me more than people who say things that put other people down because of their race, creed, or gender.

Now for everyone else. I have nothing against restricting the Presidencey to former military personel only. As, long as the candidate wasn’t a REMF. People like that need to be kept about million miles from the Presidencey at all times. A front line soldier will know what war is like. All a REMF knows about war is what’s in the field manuals. A REMF looks at a map or a spreadsheet all day. A frontline soldier gets shot at and sees people die. Who do you want running the country. A person who’s only knowledge of ther horrors of war come from Saving Private Ryan, or a person who might have held a friend in his arms as he died? I sure as hell want the second guy.

woodcutter's avatar

@Mr_Paradox First off….what the fuck are you talking about?

Candidates who’ve seen combat or at the very least know how to lead people VS buying them,is a good qualifier to become president.”

Nowhere in my post can you find, or contrive, that I indicated that a soldier who was in a service MOS is any less a soldier than one who was actually in combat….unless you are seeing things.
People in the military can’t help but acquire leadership and problem solving skills if they are worth their salt and try. There’s not one thing in my post that indicates what it’s looking like got your knickers in a twist.

I was in field artillery USARMY but didn’t get to kill anyone so I suppose that was a good thing?

Lots and lots of high ranking women in the military that I would vote for after they retired, over some silver spoon draft dodger. Or community organiser.

So in review, it appears you agreed with everything I put there but felt bothered about something?

Mr_Paradox's avatar

Reread your last sentance. sorry if I misinterpreted it. my mistake.

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