Church re-enlisting in anti-nuke campaign

By David Waters Ever since President Harry Truman, a Baptist, thanked God in 1945 for giving the atomic bomb to … Continued

By David Waters

Ever since President Harry Truman, a Baptist, thanked God in 1945 for giving the atomic bomb to the U.S. and not Germany, the church’s attention to nuclear weapons has alternately flared and flagged — as David E. Anderson of Religion News Service explained in a fascinating summary last week.

With the Obama administration’s growing emphasis on the issue of nuclear proliferation, the faith-based nuclear abolition movement seems to be flaring again. Can a new generation of church leaders restart a movement that has flagged since the “No Nukes” 1980s, when the U.S. Catholic Church, the United Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church USA, and the National Association of Evangelicals issued bold statements against nuclear weapons.

As a follower of Christ I have long believed that nuclear weapons are one of the most atrocious exercises of human creativity ever devised,” Dr. David Gushee, professor of Christian ethics at Mercer University in Atlanta, said Thursday as Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged to reduce the stockpile of deployed, strategic nuclear weapons in both countries.

Gushee is one of a growing number of evangelical, mainline Protestant and Catholic leaders who are expressing renewed concerns about nuclear proliferation and speaking up for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“The moral end is clear: a world free of the threat of nuclear weapons,” Catholic Archbishop Edwin O’Brien of Baltimore told the Global Zero Summit in Paris in February. “This goal should guide our efforts. Every nuclear weapons system and every nuclear weapons policy should be judged by the ultimate goal of protecting human life and dignity and the related goal of ridding the world of these weapons in a mutually verifiable way.”

Catholic bishops have been speaking out against nuclear proliferation for decades, but the latest anti-nuke movement among Christians got a boost in 2008, at a conference co-sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals.

The call was heard by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, an ordained Baptist minister in Nashville who started the Two Futures Project, which is calling for the global abolition of nuclear weapons. “Who do we think we are to claim authority over life itself and the welfare of future generations?” he said. “That power belongs to God alone.”

The project has its critics, but also has earned the praise of a number of religious and political figures, including former secretary of state George Shultz, who calls it a “vital new movement to build popular support” for nuclear abolition “from a rising generation of American Christians.”

Attention on the issue likely will increase in the next few weeks.

Next week, more than 40 heads of state will attend a Nuclear Security Summit in Washington.
Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center will host a conference on “God and the Bomb: Deterrence, Disarmament, and Human Security.” And next month, the United States will host a conference on the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations.

They all might want to review Harry Truman’s 1945 radio address, made a few days after the United States became the first and only nation to use nuclear weapons:

“It is an awful responsibility which has come to us,” Truman said. “We thank God that it has come to us, instead of to our enemies; and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and for His purposes.”

Blessed are the peacemakers who control nuclear weapons? Or blessed are the peacemakers who abolish them?

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  • hughsie48

    This will be another effort at false equivalency. The major religions of the world and those with brains ALL stand against nuclear weapons. Then Fox will put on some nitwit ,right wing ,bible thumper who claims he talks to God everyday. He’ll tell us that God is on oour side and it’s O.K. because God doesn’t really like brown or yellow people. It’s O.K. to havenuc’s JUST FOR US! I can see it now!

  • cassie123

    War and nuclear weapons is a tough issue for Christians to swallow…on the one hand, we want to protect our country and those in it and on the other hand we do not want to be responsible for ending someone’s life possibly before they are able to know the love of Christ. I must admit, when I first heard about this nuclear treaty, I was upset. I thought that we must protect ourselves. However, I was reminded that there is much more at stake here than my own protection…there is the fact that many innocent people are killed in the nuclear attacks. These are people who may not have had the opportunity yet to know God. I just don’t want to be that person who willingly allows those people to die before they have that chance. I may not have found my exact answer to this issue yet. I think self defense is ok but that we should proceed with extreme care in our attacks of retaliation. Christians will do well to remember that ultimately, God is in control. We love those around us because God first loved us. We should all desire for others to experience the same love that has been bestowed upon us.

  • cassie123

    Hughsie48: While I agree that we ALL should see nukes as bad, I think your characterization or Christians is unfair. I do understand that there are those out there that may feel the way you describe, but I believe the number is small. Unfortunately, those “Christian’s” (at least that is what they call themselves) extreme views tend to turn heads and then that is all people hear…or want to hear. Also, I watch fox news and I have not heard anyone like this talk on there. Finally, I talk to God and I am proud of that. Admittedly, I fail at doing it everyday, but God most certainly talks to me everyday. That does not make me racist or stupid.

  • YEAL9

    Considering the koran demands that Muslim males dominate the world by any means, there can be no nuclear bomb neutrality/abolition!!!

  • YEAL9

    Considering the koran demands that Muslim males dominate the world by any means, there can be no nuclear bomb neutrality/abolition as Muslim theocracies now have the BOMBS!!!

  • spidermean2

    There is only one way to avoid nukes. They should listen to what God says :”For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and ALL THAT DO WICKEDLY, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall BURN THEM UP, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.””Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the PUNISHMENT they deserve for their perversion.” (Romans 1:27)The nukes are coming and its pointed at the wicked. REPENT. That’s the key to disarmament.

  • areyousaying

    A new generation of church leaders can’t stop pederasty in the clergy. How can they do anything about nuclear weapons. Evangelical Huckabee pastor who pray for the President’s death actually like them.