More than two dozen faith groups, including the Church of the Brethren’s Office of Peacebuilding and Policy, have written a letter to President Biden urging the abolition of nuclear weapons, and stating that “the possession and use of nuclear weapons cannot be justified.” The letter comes after the Biden administration responded with threats of “catastrophic consequences” to Russian Pres. Putin’s veiled threats to use nuclear weapons.
The full text of the letter follows, along with the list of groups that have signed it:
Oct. 13, 2022
Dear Mr. President:
In September, Russian President Vladimir Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine. The United States responded with warnings of “catastrophic consequences” for such an action. As faith-based organizations, we believe that the possession and use of nuclear weapons cannot be justified and we call for their abolition. We condemn Putin’s recent nuclear threats and remain concerned that an unending cycle of escalation leading to global annihilation is all too possible. We urge you to avoid the path towards mutually assured destruction by resisting pressure to respond with nuclear weapons if Moscow takes the unthinkable step of detonating nuclear weapons in Ukraine.
Please pray… For an end to nuclear weapons and for all nations to sign and implement the United Nations nuclear weapons ban treaty (see www.icanw.org).
There is no justification for the use of nuclear weapons. The sheer scale of their destructive capability would risk planetary annihilation and a humanitarian armageddon. A wide array of faith leaders and interfaith groups around the world have agreed that nuclear weapons are intrinsically immoral weapons that must never be used.
Pope Francis said earlier this year: “I wish to reaffirm that the use of nuclear weapons, as well as their mere possession, is immoral… Trying to defend and ensure stability and peace through a false sense of security and a ‘balance of terror,’ sustained by a mentality of fear and mistrust inevitably ends up poisoning relationships between peoples and obstructing any possible form of real dialogue. Possession leads easily to threats of their use, becoming a sort of ‘blackmail’ that should be repugnant to the consciences of humanity.”
Putin’s thinly veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against Ukraine is a horrifying act of nuclear blackmail that contradicts his own admission that “there can be no winners in a nuclear war and it should never be unleashed.” Any nuclear response on behalf of the United States would also contradict your own recognition that “a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” If the United States responds to Russian nuclear use in kind, it could lead us all down the path to a full-scale nuclear war and the catastrophic loss of human life. As the Mennonite Church General Assembly proclaimed, “we cannot ignore humanity’s apparent capability of annihilating God’s creation via nuclear weapons.”
A nuclear war would also result in unimaginable harm to the planet. The science is clear: even a regional or so called “limited” nuclear war would bring about unforgivable harm to the global climate. According to the landmark report, Nuclear Famine (2022), a nuclear war involving less than 3% of the world’s nuclear arsenals would block out the sun, cause a global temperature drop, collapse global crop production, and create mass starvation on a scale never before seen. Societies everywhere would have to adapt to a dark, cold, and inhospitable planet.
As we continue to hear the rattling of nuclear sabers, we reiterate that this era of nuclear coercion must end. Our shared humanity reminds us that despite our differences, we share a moral responsibility to de-escalate tensions, return to negotiations, and realize a world without nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are incompatible with our fundamental respect for human dignity. They threaten our planet, communities and families, without which we cannot pursue our prosperity, well-being or happiness. As United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres stated, “their elimination would be the greatest gift we could bestow on future generations.”
We urge you to explore every avenue of dialogue, diplomacy, and negotiation to ease tensions with Russia, end the bloodshed in Ukraine, and eliminate the nuclear threat to all humankind.
Alliance of Baptists
American Friends Service Committee
California Council of Churches
Center on Conscience and War
Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Disciples Peace Fellowship
Dorothy Day Catholic Worker, DC
Faith for Black Lives
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Hindus for Human Rights
InterReligious Task Force on Central America and Colombia
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Moravian Church Northern Province
Moravian Church Southern Province
Most Reverend John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe
National Council of Churches
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
Pax Christi USA
Pennsylvania Council of Churches
Presbyterian Church (USA)
Religions for Peace USA
Soka Gakkai International-USA
United Church of Christ, Justice and Local Church Ministries
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
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