Monday, April 03, 2006

Let us now praise important but un-famous men

Caleb Foote has died.


Liz Opp said...

Thanks for pointing me (us) to this. Given today's changing Quaker theology, at least among some liberal Friends, this statement really gives cause for concern:

His draft board had denied his request for conscientious objector status in 1940, deciding that his religious argument for the status was based more on humanist principles than on theology.

Liz, The Good Raised Up

Paul L said...

If your concern is that a Quaker whose conscientiously held beliefs against participation in war are based on "humanist principles" rather than theology might not qualify for the conscientious objector status, the Supreme Court's decision in Dan Seeger's case (which was in 1967, too late for Caleb Foote) put that to rest.

The court held that to deny the CO exemption to a person who otherwise qualified for it solely because he didn't profess belief in a supreme being effectively established theism as a preferred religion contrary to the 1st Amendment's prohibition against Congress establishing a religion.

The court said that the person is entitled to the exemption if his ethical and moral beliefs functioned in the same way and occuplied the same place that a belief in God does to a traditional believer.

The Supreme Court could revisit that decision in the unlikely event conscription is ever reinstated and an otherwise qualified nontheistic conscientious objector is denied the exemption.There's some reason to believe that it might given how liberally it has read the Establishment Clause in the last fifteen or twenty years. But Seeger is good law and certainly covers non-theistic conscientious objectors if their beliefs are sincere and (and here's the rub) they prohibit participation in all wars; objectors to unjust wars don't qualify (according to the next Supreme Court draft case that followed Seeger's in 1968).

Anonymous said...

Caleb Foote enjoyed obsurity and did not seek celebrity. The CCCO office, begun in 1948 in Philadelphia, counseled tens of thousands of men and women.
Prior to the study of law, his style was succinct.
His presence, later in life, was crucial to the work of CCCO as he advocated for the opening of the first branch office of CCCO. This San Francisco field office opened almost simultaneously with MCDC in Chicago.
He worked tirelessly with the AFSC to bring about changes in prison law.
Quietly, persistently, he continues to influence lives.
Hank Maiden
Sequim Quaker Worship Group