“The warhorse is a vain hope for victory, and by its great might it cannot save.” –Psalm 33
Nuclear weapons merit unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation. The 30,000 around the globe have more than 100,000 times the explosive power of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These are doomsday arms-genocidal, ecocidal and suicidal.
It is our belief that only God has the authority to end all life on the planet; all we have is the power, and it is past time to surrender it.
To live in a world within minutes of possible annihilation is to defy God’s will, not to do God’s will. Therefore, we turn to you, our fellow believers. We want, we need your help to end this deadly peril to humanity and its habitat.
Some important history. When the cold war ended, many thought the nuclear danger had ended with it. It did not, and now, having assumed a more sinister shape, it is mounting again.
Scores of admirals and generals from many countries have come to believe that nuclear weapons invite far more than they deter catastrophic conflict. Recently, Robert McNamara described them as “illegal, immoral, militarily unnecessary, and dreadfully dangerous.”
Among other Americans who agree are General Andrew Goodpaster, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe; and General Lee Butler, once Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Air Command (SAC).
To these military leaders it is clear beyond denial that the possession of nuclear weapons by some states is the strongest incentive for other states to acquire them. They are also painfully aware that nuclear weapons, while most useful to terrorists, are utterly useless against them.
Consequently, these leaders now advocate, as do we, the abolition of all nuclear arsenals. As General Butler declared five years ago, “A world free of the threat of nuclear weapons is necessarily a world devoid of nuclear weapons.”
All Americans should know that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was a grand design struck in 1970. Since that time, over one hundred eighty non-nuclear countries have promised to forego nuclear weapons provided the nuclear powers abolished theirs.
In other words—and this is crucial—non-proliferation was, from the beginning, inextricably linked to nuclear disarmament.
But instead of honoring their obligations under Article VI of the treaty, the nuclear powers have substituted a double standard for the single one intended.
For 35 years, they have practiced nuclear apartheid, arrogating to themselves the right to build, deploy, and threaten to use nuclear weapons, while policing the rest of the world against their production. It was a policy too blatantly unjust to be politically sustainable.
There was a hopeful moment in 2000, when the five initial nuclear powers, including the United States, pledged “an unequivocal undertaking to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals.” But our government today refuses to honor this and other past pledges. As a result, the Non-Proliferation Treaty is unraveling. Other countries may soon follow the lead of North Korea, which withdrew from the treaty in 2003.
A perilous situation now confronts humanity. The possibility of abolishing nuclear weapons is an opportunity we must seize, for time is running out. The tyranny of the urgent is today’s reality.
A world free of nuclear weapons would represent a giant step towards the ultimate goal of a world free of war. People would become much less fearful, far more peace-minded, and the change would be reflected in military budgets.
It is dispiriting to learn that, led by the United States, global military spending last year rose by six percent to top one trillion dollars. As a result, this year millions of people in the Third World will continue not only to be killed in wars but also to die in greater numbers from preventable and treatable diseases, while the children of the poor in America will continue to have their medical and educational needs untended. It is heartbreaking.
Therefore, on this 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, leaders from several religious traditions formed an ‘Interreligious Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons.’ Its aim is to work with all Americans—and people abroad—who agree with the statement:
“No country shall have nuclear weapons.”
We call on all members of America’s religious communities, as a testament of our common faith, to sign this appeal and take the concrete steps suggested in the accompanying addendum.
Fellow believers, we know how often justice appears a weary way off, peace a little further. But if we give up on justice, if we give up on peace, we give up on God.
So let us resolve to labor mightily for what we pray for fervently, confident in the poet’s contention that “we are only undefeated because we go on trying” and in the vision of the prophet that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea.”
God bless you all.
To sign on or request information, please contact:
Jessica Wilbanks firstname.lastname@example.org 202-587-5232
Addendum: Taking Action
We invite you to join the Interreligious Network to Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by signing onto this appeal and joining in the following actions.
1. Demand that the President and the Secretary of State frame and publish a plan outlining the steps whereby the American unequivocal commitment to eliminate nuclear arms can be realized.
This plan would be preparatory to convening a conference of nuclear powers to set landmarks and deadlines by which, again under the most stringent international control, all nuclear weapons will be eliminated from the face of the earth. We reason that by building momentum now, we may make possible tomorrow what may seem improbable today.
2. Circulate and study the educational and organizing materials that the Interreligious Network will send to all seminaries in America for distribution among their students and graduates.
As part of this effort, we will also circulate an Urgent Call outlining steps to elimination, as well as statements and information from members of the medical, legal, and environmental communities.
3. Encourage religious peoples to lobby Congress to stop funding any more nuclear weapons projects, specifically the Administration’s designs for “bunker-busters” and for the further weaponization of outer space.
It is demeaning to our democracy that Congress keeps postponing or repressing public debate on a subject as morally compelling as our nuclear weapons policy.
4. Meet with members of Congress, hold public meetings, meet with editors, reporters, columnists, and talk show hosts.
Do everything possible to remind Americans that we are all in the race of our lives and we are not running fast enough.