Valley Forge, Pa. -- American Baptist Churches USA General Secretary the Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley has joined 17 other leaders of Protestant, Orthodox and Muslim groups in endorsing a call to seek "the abolition of nuclear weapons...by reducing and then eliminating nuclear arms under binding agreements."
The "Urgent Call to End the Nuclear Weapons Danger" was developed by the Nuclear Reduction/Disarmament Initiative of the Churches Center for Theology and Public Policy, a Washington D.C.-based interfaith effort to address the dangers of nuclear proliferation. The initiative has been supported by several dozen religious leaders and a number of retired high-ranking military professionals.
The statement endorsed by the religious leaders notes in part:
"As people of faith, we understand that God created the universe and everything in it. Our world is an astonishingly beautiful, rich, complex, tiny piece of that creation, teeming with life and beloved in God's sight.
"Since the nuclear age began in 1945 this glorious world has been faced with a fundamentally new kind of threat from nuclear weapons. Their vast power could destroy not only the present world, but with long-term radiation effects and the possibility of nuclear winter, nuclear weapons could destroy the future. Even when they are unused, their production and deployment cause significant environmental degradation, divert massive resources from human need, and add destabilizing fear to tense political situations....
"As people of faith, we affirm life and all that nurtures it. We abhor nuclear weapons and the destruction they portend. As people of faith, we choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19).
"A decade after the end of the Cold War, the peril of nuclear destruction is mounting. The great powers have refused to give up nuclear arms, other countries are producing them, and terrorists are trying to acquire them....
"The dangers posed by huge arsenals, threats of use, proliferation, and terrorism are linked: The nuclear powers' refusal to disarm fuels proliferation, and proliferation makes nuclear materials more accessible to terrorists. The events of September 11 brought home to Americans what it means to experience a catastrophic attack. Yet the horrifying losses that day were only a fraction of what any nation would suffer if a single nuclear weapon were used on a city.
"The drift towards catastrophe must be reversed. Safety from nuclear destruction must be our goal. We can reach it only by reducing and then eliminating nuclear arms under binding agreements.
"We therefore call on the United States and Russia to fulfill their commitments under the Nonproliferation Treaty and move together with the other nuclear powers, step by carefully inspected and verified step, to the abolition of nuclear weapons...."
By Albert H. Lee