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Key Issues Ethics The Basics Quotes from Religious Organizations and Leaders

Religious Organizations and Leaders on Nuclear Weapons and Abolition

"Let it not be said that the promotion of a culture of peace, the rooting out of the causes of violence, the abolition of nuclear weapons, are unreachable goals. The world has rid itself of the evils of legalized slavery, legalized colonialism and legalized apartheid. These were eliminated as the result of rising global awareness and political determination. So, also, the growing

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momentum to delegitimize and eliminate nuclear weapons must now be accompanied by political action by all States. Humanity deserves no less from us."

-- Archbishop Renato Martino, Apostolic Nuncio, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Statement to the First Committee of the 53rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly, October 19, 1998.

"This Conference resolves to call upon our respective governments and through our governments, the United Nations and other instruments:

a. to urge all nations to agree by treaty to stop the production, testing, stock-piling and usage of nuclear weapons; and

b. to press for an international mandate for all member states to prohibit nuclear warfare."

-- Resolution I.11 from the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, August 1998

"Nuclear deterrence as a national policy must be condemned as morally abhorrent because it is the excuse and justification for the continued possession and further development of these horrendous weapons. We urge all to join in taking up the challenge to begin the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons now, rather than relying on them indefinitely."
-- 75 U.S. Catholic Bishops, The Morality of Nuclear Deterrence: An Evaluation by Pax Christi Bishops in the United States, June 1998

"The time has come to rid planet Earth of nuclear weapons -- all of them, everywhere...Nuclear weapons, whether used or threatened, are grossly evil and morally wrong. As an instrument of mass destruction, nuclear weapons slaughter the innocent and ravage the environment. This was quite apparent in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The same result would probably occur in any further use, and indeed would be worse because of the increased destructive power of modern nuclear weapons."
-- Godfried Cardinal Danneels, President, Pax Christi International and Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser, General Secretary, World Council of Churches, Statement to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee, March, 1998

"...the current declared nuclear nations must continue vigorously in good faith toward total nuclear disarmament. As United Methodists, we confess the sin of allowing the development, testing and use of these weapons to create, as the United Methodist bishops have called them, 'demonic war-making and hunger-making systems.' It is immoral to use God-given resources for human activities that are murderous and destructive and have caused the poverty and deaths of millions of people."
-- Reverend Thom White Wolf Fassett, Board of Church and Society, United Methodists, February 26, 1998

"The time has come for Canada to take a strong, principled stand against the continued possession of nuclear weapons by any state, affirming abolition as the central goal of Canadian nuclear weapons policy and adding Canada's voice to the call to immediately begin negotiations on a Nuclear Weapons Convention."
-- Canadian Church Leaders Seek end to Nuclear Weaponry, February 18, 1998 (Letter to Prime Minister Chretien signed by 18 religious leaders)

1997
"If biological weapons, chemical weapons and now land-mines can be done away with, so too can nuclear weapons. No weapon so threatens the longed-for peace of the 21st century as the nuclear. Let not the immensity of this task dissuade us from the efforts needed to free humanity from such a scourge...since nuclear weapons can destroy all life on the planet, they imperil all that humanity has ever stood for and indeed humanity itself."

-- Archbishop Renato Martino, Holy See's Permanent Observer at the UN, "Nuclear Weapons Cannot be Justified and Deserve Condemnation: Grave Consequences Lie Ahead if the World is Ruled by the Militarism of Nuclear Arms," October, 1997

"A person cannot return to this tortuously profaned yet most sacred city without having done all that we can do to rid our nations and the world of nuclear weapons and of the ideologies, ambitions, economic, political, ideological and social structures that create, maintain, profit from, and prepare to use nuclear weapons against human beings and against Nature."
-- Joseph Gerson, Ph..D., Regional Program Coordinator, American Friends Service Committee in New England, World Conference Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, Hiroshima & Nagasaki, August 1997.

"RESOLVED, That the 72nd General Convention of the Episcopal Church support the goal of total nuclear disarmament; and note with appreciation and pleasure the progress that has been made toward this goal; but inasmuch as the production, testing and deployment of nuclear weapons continue, more must be done to achieve that nuclear disarmament, and be it further
"RESOLVED, That this General Convention urge the Government of the United States to exercise leadership among nations, especially the nuclear weapons states, by immediately initiating negotiations for an International Treaty on Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Disarmament in all the aspects to include a deadline for the completion of nuclear disarmament ..."

-- Abolition of Nuclear Weapons Resolution from the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, 1997

1996
"Proliferating public knowledge of fission -- the process by which explosive power is created -- means that numerous nations and even terrorist groups are close to having the capacity to create nuclear bombs. Only an iron-clad commitment to total nuclear disarmament, which we do not have, will forestall such a horror."

-- John Rempel, Mennonite Central Committee Liaison to the United Nations and Minister of the Manhattan Mennonite Fellowship, New York, October 1996

"We reaffirm the goal of total abolition of all nuclear weapons throughout the Earth and space. This can occur by achieving the following objectives:
1. Complete elimination of all nuclear weapons by all possessors;

2. Complete elimination of all delivery vehicles by all possessors;

3. Termination of all development, production, and testing of nuclear weapons by all nations and by all individuals and groups with nuclear ambition; and

4. Prevention of all nonpossessors from developing and otherwise acquiring nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles.

These objectives should be achieved as soon as possible through a combination of international treaties and reciprocal national initiatives, carried out with adequate verification.

"...We fervently believe that these recommendations will greatly enhance global security by eliminating the possibility of nuclear war. Furthermore, the resources of human talent, production capacity, and money released can become available to deal with urgent human problems around the globe. Nuclear abolition provides great hope for global peace and prosperity."

-- Book of Resolutions of the United Methodist Church, 1996

1995
"Nuclear weapons threaten life, liberty and security of persons. A world free of nuclear weapons is a human right for us and future generations.

"Nuclear weapons serve no justifiable military purpose and pose a threat to all forms of life. Reliance by governments on these weapons of indiscriminate mass destruction is immoral and must be ended. The responsibility for ending this reliance lies with all people on Earth, particularly the citizens of the nuclear weapons states.

"Article VI of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), signed by some 178 states, calls for 'negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.'

"We support the goal of nuclear disarmament.

"We urge all governments, and especially nuclear weapons states, to initiate negotiations immediately for an International Treaty on Comprehensive Nuclear Disarmament.

"We pledge to seek the abolition of all nuclear weapons in the world, and to take actions toward realizing this goal."

-- Signed by Bruce Birchard, General Secretary, Friends General Conference; The Most Reverend Edmond L. Browing, Presiding Bishop, Episcopal Church, USA; The Most Reverend Thomas J. Gumbleton, Auxiliary Bishop, Detroit Catholic Archdiocese; Norval Hadley, Executive Director, Evangelical Friends Mission; John A. Lapp, Executive Director, Mennonite Central Committee; Johan Maurer, General Secretary, Friends United Meeting; The Reverend Donald E. Miller, General Secretary, Church of the Brethren; The Most Reverend Walter F. Sullivan, Bishop, Richmond Catholic Diocese, President, Pax Christi USA; Bishop Melvin G., Talbert, Secretary, United Methodist Council of Bishops; President, National Council of Churches; The Reverend Dr. Daniel Weiss, General Secretary, American Baptist Churches; Bishop C. Dale White, United Methodist Church.

1995

"With the persistence of tensions and conflicts in various parts of the world, the international community never forgot what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as a warning and an incentive to develop truly effective and peaceful means of settling tensions and disputes. Fifty years after the Second World War, the leaders of nations cannot become complacent but rather should renew their commitment to disarmament and to the banishment of all nuclear weapons."

-- Pope John Paul II, February 1995

"In considering the path to a global abolition of war, we must touch on the matter of weapons, including nuclear arms. Since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I would like to take this opportunity to once again call for the elimination of nuclear weapons, which is the earnest prayer of humankind."
-- Daisaku Ikeda, President, Soka Gakkai International, "Creating a Century Without War Through Human Solidarity -- A Global Framework of Cooperation for Peace," January, 1995

"Since the advent of the nuclear age in 1945, humanity has lived in the shadow of death. Even the most limited nuclear war - a single bomb on a single city - would kill hundreds of thousands of people. In a major nuclear war, many millions would be killed by blast, heat, and radiation in the first hours and millions more would die from its effects in ensuing weeks. With the collapse of industry, trade, and agriculture, famine would engulf the rest of humanity; environmental destruction would be so great that the human race could become extinct. This is an epidemic for which there would be no cure - it must be prevented before it happens.

"The end of the Cold War and its ideologic conflict between nuclear superpowers has given us the chance to cast off its fearsome legacy and to end this threat to human survival. Yet there are still some 48,000 nuclear warheads in the world, and even if all existing arms control treaties are fully implemented, in 2003 there will remain 20,000 warheads - the equivalent of 200,000 Hiroshima bombs. Worse still, today the number of nations possessing nuclear weapons has increased to at least eleven. As states maintain nuclear arsenals and bitter ethnic, religious or national rivalries persist, many more nations are certain to acquire nuclear arms in the years ahead. Moreover, even now vast resources are still expended on
nuclear arms, while millions of people lack adequate food, housing or health care.

"We believe that it is intolerable to allow this danger to persist. Future generations may well judge us by one simple criterion: did we eliminate nuclear weapons when we had the chance, or did we leave our children hostage to this great peril? Let us act now so that we and our children may live.

"We commend President Clinton and our government for initiation of a moratorium on nuclear test explosions and the negotiation of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty now underway, and for the reduction of
nuclear stockpiles. But much more is urgently needed now. We must commit ourselves to the goal of elimination of nuclear weapons themselves.

"Therefore -

"We urge all governments, and specifically our own government, to initiate negotiation of an international treaty on comprehensive nuclear disarmament. We urge them to complete these negotiations by the year 2000 so that we can enter the new millennium with a treaty in place committing all nations to non-proliferation and a firm timetable for the permanent abolition of all nuclear weapons.

"We appeal to President Clinton to commit our government to this undertaking. Further, we urge Senator Specter, Senator Santorum, and all our Representatives in Congress to support this effort by whatever means they find most appropriate."

-- Statement of Support for Non-Proliferation and the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, initiated in 1995 by the World Federalist Association, 204 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15222, Rev 3/96. The following religious leaders in the Pittsburgh area have signed the above statement:

Bishop George Bashore, W. PA Conference, United Methodist Church
Bishop Anthony G. Bosco Catholic Diocese of Greenburg
Wallace Cayard, Clerk, Religious Society of Friends of Pittsburgh
W. Darwin Collins, Regional Minister and President, Christian Church, (Disciples of Christ) in Pennsylvania
Rabbi Walter Jacob, Rodef Shalom Congregation
Rev. Carolyn J. Jones, Executive Presbyter of the Washington Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church
Rabbi Mark Mahler,Temple Emanuel, Mt. Lebanon
John Matta, Stated Clerk Pittsburgh Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA
Bishop Donald J. McCoid, Southwest PA Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Arthur McDonal, Allegheny Unitarian Universalist Church
Rev. Paul Sawyer, Unitarian Universalist Church of North Hills
Dr. Paul Westcoat, Conference Minister of the Penn West Conference United
Bishop Donald Wuerl, Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh

Since its initiation in 1995, many additional members of the clergy have signed this Statement of Support.

1994
"Resolved. That the 71st General Convention of the Episcopal Church...urge the President of the United States and the U.S. negotiators in Geneva to take immediate international leadership in signing and implementing a comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the coming year, and to pursue diplomatic initiatives for the complete elimination of nuclear weapons design, testing, and manufacture anywhere in the world."

-- Episcopal Church General Convention, 1994

1993
"Today there is no logical reason for the retention and further development of cataclysmic firepower. Nuclear reductions are not enough ... maintaining nuclear deterrence into the twenty-first century will not aid but impede peace. Nuclear deterrence prevents genuine disarmament. It maintains an unacceptable hegemony over non-nuclear nations. It fuels arms race build-ups around the world. It spans a militarism that is choking off development for the poorest half of the world's population. It is a fundamental obstacle in achieving a new age of global security. "

-- Archbishop Renato Martino, Holy See's Representative to the U.N., 1993

1990
"Since their exists in thermonuclear weapons a destructive power of vast proportions almost too frightful to contemplate, the Salvation Army recognizes that the world's problems cannot be solved by force, and that greed and pride, coupled with the widespread desire for domination, poison the souls of men and sow the seeds of conflict.

The Salvation Army continues to be deeply concerned with the investment of huge financial resources to aid the escalating production of terrifying weapons of mass destruction, rather than the diversion of these funds to socioeconomic growth throughout the world. Disarmament, peace and development are inextricably linked."

-- Salvation Army, 1990

1986
"...we say a clear and unconditional No to nuclear war and to any use of nuclear weapons. We conclude that nuclear deterrence is a position that cannot receive the church's blessing ... We support the earliest possible negotiation of a phased but rapid reduction of nuclear arsenals ... to the eventual goal of a mutual and verifiable dismantling of all nuclear armaments."

-- United Methodist Council of Bishops, In Defense of Creation, 1986

1983
"As people, we must refuse to legitimate the idea of nuclear war. Such a refusal will require not only new ideas and new visions, but what the Gospel calls conversion of the heart...We believe it is necessary for the sake of prevention to build a barrier against the idea of nuclear war as a viable strategy for defense...Each proposed addition to our strategic system or change in strategic doctrine must be assessed in the light of whether it will render steps toward progressive disarmament more or less likely."

-- U.S. Catholic Bishops' Pastoral Letter on War and Peace, 1983

1965
"Any act aimed indiscriminately at the destruction of entire cities or extensive areas along with their population is a crime against God and humanity. It merits unequivocal and unhesitating condemnation."

-- Roman Catholic Church, Second Vatican Council, 1965