Joshua Casteel

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Joshua Casteel in 2007

Joshua Casteel (27 December 197925 August 2012) was a United States Army soldier, conscientious objector, playwright, and divinity student.



Letters from Abu Ghraib (2008)

  • Was Rome dispensing "God's divine Justice" when it forbade Peter and Paul from preaching in public? Were Peter and Paul "justly reprimanded for their sins" by being imprisoned and executed? Was Jesus being justly punished for his sin when the Sanhedrin sent him to be executed by Pilate? Was Germany dispensing divine wrath to Israel, Poland, etc., when they plotted to take over the world and exterminate all non-Aryans? … I am trying to say that the State does not have a license to do anything it wants … and when we are ordered by the State to violate God's law, we must not bow to Baal. Civil disobedience is just as mandatory as civil subservience. It all must past through the filter of conscience, not to mention Christ's mandate that we recognize that the Kingdom has already come. We are now its citizens. … we are under no obligation to abdicate conscience on behalf of the State.
    • pp. 64-65.
  • Every day I talk with the enemy. But I do not see an embodiment of "him who opposes goodness." If we approach the war on terrorism with the fervor of a Christian jihad against Islam, our battle is already lost, for we have become what we opposed and we are now the fundamentalists. Our battle is not one of flesh and blood, but against the spiritual powers and principalities which rule this present darkness. We cannot allow ourselves to be caught up in "war mode" against a fleshly enemy, or the true enemy is already within us, and we have failed to believe in the power of a redemption which (we say) we believe has saved us. … My comfort and liberty must not be won by the sacrifices of a new and foreign poor now paying the price for our moral failings of diplomacy,. economy and statesmanship, turning our Republic into an Empire.
    • pp. 71-72.
  • Joining the army is not a sacrament, it's a pagan allegiance.
    • p. 91.
  • We must at least allow the pain inflicted upon us by our enemies to be a megaphone to our own deafness to the world, waking us up to the needs of others, to the violence inflicted upon them.
    • p. 92.
  • I don't complain about "the military" because of inconvenience or discomfort … I complain about how perilous it feels to attempt an authentic Christianity in the midst of "exploiting persons of their intelligence value," and then listening to the news, hearing of the bombing campaign just undertaken in the town that I just wrote an intelligence report on only days previous. Those bombs are given coordinates by my reports.
  • Since the day I walked onto Academy grounds at West Point, I have been in an ongoing and quite conscious battle with my military service. Whether it was my first decision in college to turn away from military service altogether, or my post-September 11th decision to return to service, I have been attempting to mitigate conscience and duty for the past seven years. In the absence of a clear and articulate objection to service, I have defaulted to evolving forms of duty as my guiding principle. … Conscientious objection is now the only way dutifully to fulfill my obligations both to faith and to nation, and to my own internal commitments to personal courage.
    • From his conscientious objector application, pp. 115-116.
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