Traditionally, individuals with religious objections to participating in any war are afforded conscientious objector status and so will neither be forced to fight in the military nor punished for their refusal. Because engaging in war involves a very important state interest, it might be thought that a state’s exempting those with religious scruples from participating in war indicates that free exercise guarantees are rather robust. However, the Supreme Court has made clear that Congress is permitted but not required to afford such exemptions, which means that such exemptions are not provided because of constitutional guarantees. While there are various interpretations of the cases involving pacifists who were either seeking to become United States citizens or were refusing to serve in the military, the most consistent and coherent reading of these cases taken as a whole suggests that the constitutional protection of free exercise is not particularly robust in these contexts, and that the conscientious objector cases are best understood as illustrating the range of legislative discretion rather than constitutional mandate.