Profiles: Logan Mehl-Laituri, Joe Gibson
Logan Mehl-Laituri spent over six years in the United States Army, including a 14 month deployment to iraq as a forward observer for the field artillery. In 2006, he was honorably discharged after applying to be recognized as a noncombatant conscientious objector in order to return to combat without a firearm as a Christian pacifist.
In 2008, Centurion's Guild emerged in response to a general lack of substantive and meaningful engagement with service members in churches and Christian communities. Logan acts as the Executive Officer for the Guild, where he counsels past and present service members and their families on theologically relevant, historically grounded practices and perspectives within the Christian faith for understanding military service.
As a student in the Master of Theological Studies program at Duke Divinity School, Logan became a founding member of the student group Milites Christi and was lead organizer for After the Yellow Ribbon (a 2011 Veterans Day conference focused on equipping congregations, colleges, and communities engage more meaningfully with past and present service members in their midst). He continues to speak and write broadly about veterans issues and Christian perspectives on militarism and nationalism for local, national, and international news outlets.
Logan is also author of Reborn on the Fourth of July (InterVarsity Press, July, 2012).
Links to Logan's video clips and blogs:
Joe Gibson enlisted in the Marines right after high school and served for three- and-a-half years. After his training as a Tactical Data Assistance Administrator in California, he spent the remainder of his time at Cherry Point, North Carolina. Joe received his conscientious objector discharge on February 4, 2012, over a year after he had first submitted his written application. He based his conscientious objection to war on new understandings of his Christian faith.
Excerpts from Joe Gibson's application for a conscientious objector discharge:
I am applying for conscientious objector status (1-0)in the United States Marine Corp due to recent developments in religious belief. These beliefs come from the teachings of my Lord Jesus Christ in the gospels as well as the rest of the teachings found in the New Testament...
I can no longer be required to put my faith in weapons, training, warfare, or my nation’s military. In doing so I would be sinning against my God, arrogantly spitting in the face of his power. Given that our nation’s laws and God’s laws are different, it is apparent that I can no longer serve both my God, and the State as a soldier. These things being true I am forced to either give up my faith in God, or my duties as a soldier to the State...
EVERYTHING about the New Covenant hinges on love, and I am called to liberally apply it not only to those who wish and do me good, but also to those who wish and do me harm. This is a stark contrast to how the military or any war deals with situations. How can I possibly claim I love my enemy when all of society, all of my training, and all of the military culture I am a part of teaches me to hate him? Should we not treat having to kill an enemy as reprehensible and terrible as killing a friend or family member? Am I not called to love all? This mindset cannot coexist with a military, combat mindset...
The greatest difference I see in my life from my beliefs is that instead of desiring to go overseas for military, what I see to be destructive causes, I desire now to follow in the footsteps of those who have been through the conscientious objector status myself. I am researching Christian Peacemaking Teams, who provide aid and relief to those countries in the direst need of Christian love; countries such as Iraq, Afghanistan, and to Palestinian people. I am also looking into becoming a member of Veterans for Peace, and advocating non-violence wherever I am in life.