Conscientious objector status approved

Posted: Wednesday, September 24, 2008

ANCHORAGE - A federal judge has ordered that a Fort Richardson soldier be granted conscientious objector status and an honorable discharge.

The decision by U.S. District Judge John Sedwick supersedes the Army's decision last year to deny Pfc. Michael Barnes' request. Barnes had told the Army that he experienced a religious awakening in Iraq two years ago that left him opposed to war in any form.

Sedwick said military investigators failed to provide "a basis in fact" to support their contention that Barnes' religious objections to war were insincere.

Sedwick considered testimony from Barnes, as well as a chaplain, a psychiatrist and fellow soldiers in overturning the Army's decision.

Barnes, a 26-year-old Portland, Ore. native, said Monday in a statement released by his lawyer that he was thankful to the federal courts in Anchorage for finding that his request was based on "my sincere belief as a Christian."

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