The first National Assembly to Honor Freedom of Conscience occurred in October 2008, in Austin, Texas. The intention of this gathering was not only to honor, encourage, and support persons who make decisions to refuse an authorized act of violence because of the dictates of their conscience but also to educate the greater community of reasons that cause persons voluntarily to make this choice–one that often creates inconvenience, and external discomfort and distress for them.
Many persons have physical courage. These are ready to fight for their country, to put themselves in danger in order to protect the values and the way of life of their communities. Their service is applauded and commended. They are decorated and immortalized. They are given prestigious burial ceremonies.
Persons with moral courage, however, are not so numerous. These are ready to look beyond borders, to endure slander and condemnation in order to preserve the pattern of life that honors the Creator. They are called cowards and traitors. They are regarded as unpatriotic. They are buried without any recognition.
Persons who choose conscientiously to refuse authorized acts of violence sponsored and promoted by their communities perform the most beneficial and compassionate service possible to the human family. These are bold and courageous persons who consider the impact of their actions on others outside their group and choose to treat others, all others, like they desire that others treat them. These are our true heroes–persons who dare to suffer abuse, insult, and even assault in order in all instances, under all circumstances, to honor the pattern of life they believe the Creator has intended for human life in the earth.
Two additional assemblies have followed since 2008.