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Churches Condemn Trident Vote

Wednesday July 13

The Church of Scotland has joined other British denominations in condemning what it calls the ‘rush to vote’ on renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system.

A joint churches statement with the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and Quakers in Britain said that the proposals, which the Westminster Parliament will vote on next week, are ‘unwarranted’ and ‘unethical’.

The leaders of the five churches are encouraging their members – over a million people combined – to pray and to write to their MPs.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, said: “Attempts to sustain peace through the threat of indiscriminate mass destruction could not be further from the peace to which Christ calls us. It is vital that the UK demonstrates the sort of change it wants to see in the world; building peace through strong and courageous leadership and not by commissioning more nuclear weapons.”

Earlier this week, the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church reiterated its opposition to the Trident nuclear weapons system and called for the negotiation of a treaty banning nuclear weapons. The body’s Moderator, Alan Yates, said: “We appreciate that negotiations take time, but the UK must take steps down the nuclear ladder. The threats that we face today are diverse and nuclear weapons simply cannot offer security or peace for anyone.”

Rachel Lampard, Vice-President of the Methodist Conference added: “It is scandalous that the UK Government has consistently opposed opportunities for discussion on multilateral disarmament. A decision to build Trident submarines now, just as talks on disarmament are due to get underway in the United Nations General Assembly, seems ill-timed and unwarranted.”

Paul Parker, Recording Clerk of Quakers in Britain said: “We see something of God in everyone and seek to love our neighbours as ourselves. A teaching which is present in many religions. This means we must not threaten others with weapons of mass destruction. We will build a more secure future by modelling in our own actions the behaviour that we ask of others.”

And the Rev Stephen Keyworth, Faith and Society Team Leader, the Baptist Union of Great Britain added: “We have an opportunity to give strong moral leadership and to work creatively as peacemakers. We will never achieve the peace which Scripture encourages us towards with a defence policy built on fear –peace is achieved through justice and relationship, not fear.”

In a separate statement, the convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, the Rev Dr Richard Frazer, said that now was not the right time to make the decision on whether to commit £41bn to the new submarines.

Dr Frazer said: The Church of Scotland has consistently spoken out against nuclear weapons for more than 30 years. Next Monday, July 18th, MPs will debate and vote on whether or not to renew the four nuclear submarines which constitute Britain’s nuclear deterrent. This announcement comes in the wake of the UK’s vote in favour of leaving the European Union, it comes at a time when the Opposition are embroiled in a leadership challenge and it comes only days after the appointment of a new Prime Minister. At a time when we are rebalancing our relationship with the rest of the world, we do not believe this should be our first action. We are concerned the House of Commons is being rushed into this decision in undue haste with little opportunity for reflection or wider discussion.

“Since 1982, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has deplored the use, through threat or deployment, of nuclear weapons. The scale and indiscriminate nature of the destruction caused by any nuclear weapons system renders it illegal. Nuclear missiles fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants. They wreak widespread, long-term and severe damage on the natural environment. Such weapons are abhorrent and any decision to renew the Trident system must only be taken after deep and mature reflection.

“As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and yet ‘peace’ that is kept through the indiscriminate threat of mass destruction could not be further from the peace that Christ calls us to. Over recent turbulent weeks, we have had cause to reflect on the importance of leadership in our political life. One act of profound leadership for the world would be a decision by our country to renounce our dependence on weapons of war that have no moral legitimacy. We should be building peace through strong and courageous leadership and not by commissioning more nuclear weapons. As Christians, we believe that justice, peace, reconciliation and hope can only be established in the world when we are bold enough to be the change we want to see in the world.”



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