Echoing a call issued by President Barack Obama in Prague on Palm Sunday, the Presbyterian Washington Office and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Programare urging Presbyterians to contact their U.S. Senators with a simple message:
“Work for a world free of nuclear weapons.”
Obama echoed longstanding Presbyterian concerns in his Prague speech when he identified the need to address the future of nuclear weapons as “fundamental to the security of our nations and to the peace of the world.” Obama went on to declare that under his administration, the United States will “seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.”
For more than 50 years, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) General Assemblies have repeatedly articulated that same vision.
The first call came in 1955: “We believe that lasting peace requires the elimination and prohibition of all weapons of mass destruction. We agree that negotiations for the elimination of such weapons should be predicated on an adequate arrangement for international inspection and control.”
“President Obama’s vision for a world without nuclear weapons resonates with Presbyterian statements and work for nuclear disarmament through the years,” said Sara Lisherness, director of the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace and Justice ministry. “Indeed, involvement by Presbyterians in the nuclear freeze movement contributed to the creation of the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program and energized the program in its early years.”
The 1977 General Assembly called for an end to nuclear testing. Other Assemblies voiced support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty (1971) and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (1992). In 1981, the General Assembly endorsed the “Call to Halt the Nuclear Arms Race” that sought a mutual freeze on the testing, production and deployment of nuclear weapons and of missiles and new aircraft designed primarily to deliver nuclear weapons.
Obama noted that the building blocks of nuclear disarmament will include a new national security strategy free of nuclear weapons, a new agreement with Russia to cut the size of U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals, strengthening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an international effort to secure nuclear material and keep it from the hands of terrorists and ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Obama committed to involve all nuclear states in this effort, echoing the 2003 General Assembly’s call that all nuclear powers and all nations move “step by carefully inspected and verified step, to the abolition of nuclear weapons.”
“The Global Summit called for by President Obama has the potential to be a significant event,” Lisherness said. “Hopefully, it will include the United Nations and the voices of people and nongovernmental organizations from around the world.”
The Presbyterian Washington Office, the Presbyterian United Nations Office and the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program are encouraging Presbyterians to contact their senators and urge them to back President Obama’s initiative to beat modern swords into plowshares.
“The task will not be easy,” Lisherness said. “But in this Easter season, God in Christ invites us to live into hope and to love one other. Working for a world free from nuclear weapons is a profound act of faith and hope and love.”
Information for this article was furnished by Mindy Marchal, communications associate and Mark Koenig, Presbyterian Peacemaking Program.