The alternative military service rule used to be "substitution equals equivalency" and drafted Witness used to have to go to prison. That changed in May of 1996. Now Witnesses can serve alternative military service in jobs like hospitals without sanctions. Those who went to prison under the old rules did that of their own free will and they were told to take an attitude of being glad to have served their own consciences. I'm not personally aware of any revolts over this change.
It churns my stomach.
I went to prison because of their stupid and incomprehensible "neutrality" doctrine in 1967. I have had so many
conversations with older JW's who DID NOT KNOW about this doctrine or policy!
My own (former) best friend who is still an active JW was under an impression that went like this:
Johnny: "What are you complaining about? Would you rather have gone to Viet Nam than prison?"
Me: "That wasn't the choice presented."
Johnny: "What do you mean? Sure it was. Being a JW saved your life and you should be grateful."
Me: "The contrary. My legal choice under law was to serve alternative service in a hospital. The law allows people with religious objections to keep a good conscience while substituting a service on behalf of others: the hospital work."
Johnny (aghast): "I didn't know that!!"
Me: "Being a JW in this instance meant I was NOT ALLOWED a good conscience by Watchtower Society. Instead, I was compelled to waste two years serving nobody; not even myself."
Johnny: "You served Jehovah! Jehovah knew you were doing it for him."
Me: "Funny you use an active verb like "doing". Languishing in prison is not "doing". It is the epitome of NOT doing."
Johnny: "You served as an example of obedience! You showed the draft board, the court, the prison officials how strong the faith a servant of Jehovah could be!"
Me: "The only reaction I got from those people on the draft board, the court and the prison was NON-COMPREHENSION as to what I was trying to achieve. It just looked to them as if I was trying to avoid serving my country in the army by pounding the bible and being a big know-it-all sissy under the cloak of "religious conscience"; it filled no one with respect for Jehovah. It convinced them that Jehovah's Witnesses are unreasonable martyr-mentality show offs."
Johnny: "Well, I didn't feel that way! I admired your stand."
Me: "So, my sole accomplishment, then, is that my best friend admired me. You--an already believing JW; while everybody else thought I was a religious fanatic nutcase. That is quite a trophy for me to feel good about."
Johhny: "The fact that the Society was willing to change shows that Jehovah is directing them. You had a test of your faith and you passed. No harm done."
Me: "Hello? Hello? Anybody home? Let's make a list, shall we?
1.I wasted two years better spent on education and serving my community. That would make me a more valuable person to myself, my family and to society.
2. I barely escaped being raped. I made friends with about 20 brothers inside prison NOT ONE of whom is still an active JW! My own family was stressed beyond measure at my predicament. Everything I learned inside is completely worthless today doctrinally and personally.
3.I discovered when I got out that not one JW in a hundred knows one-tenth of the actual doctrines held to be true by the Society; the average brother is just going through the motions. Nobody came to visit me from the congregation or even wrote me a letter. You yourself came to see me ONE TIME in two years!
4.The entire phoney doctrine of neutrality was a SECRET DOCTRINE! That meant the information about what I should do was communicated to me out of fear of the authorities! I'm the only one expected to take the fall while the higher-ups were playing "cover your ass". The only reason this policy changed is because the details became more and more publicized and embarassing.
5. There is a giant hole in the middle of my life about the size of those 2 years in Federal Prison. I can't go back and fix it. Putting a pretty ribbon on it is just indulging in wishful thinking. I'm sick of that mentality.
Johnny: "I think you're wrong. But, that's your choice. You CHOSE to do it."
Me: "Right, sure. I chose to do it. Was there an alternative service to Jehovah's alternative service? No! Their crazy policy was absolute and it was made clear that death at Armageddon was the other choice of service. Some choice."
Policy changes and "increasing light" are always the result of publicity and information promulgated by ex-JW's. The heat gets too hot for the upper eschelon members and the only way to relieve the pressure is to suddenly have a divine Epiphany.
Black is white, day is night, wrong is right: BE GRATEFUL!
That is the messege.
I say, "Ptooie!"