Scottish church leaders denounce Trident nuclear weapons
The Rev Alan McDonald, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Cardinal Keith Patrick O'Brien, President of the Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of Scotland, have responded to UK Chancellor Gordon Brownís backing for Britainís so-called independent nuclear deterrent by saying that the deployment and use of nuclear arms is theologically and morally wrong.
They are likely to be joined soon by the Methodist Church in Britain. Christian peace organisations, including Pax Christi, the Fellowship of Reconciliation and Quaker Peace and Social Witness are mobilising against the governmentís intention to replace the out-dated Trident nuclear system.
In his recent Mansion House speech in the City of London, Mr Brown ñ who has been a member of the Christian Socialist Movement and has often quoted the influence of his church upbringing ñ said that Britain would show a ìnational purposeî in protecting its security.
The country should be ìstrong in defence in fighting terrorism, upholding NATO, supporting our armed forces at home and abroad, and retaining our independent nuclear deterrent,î he said, backing recent statements from PM Tony Blair, who he hopes eventually to succeed.
But speaking during a visit to the Royal Highland Show in Scotland, the Presbyterian leader of the countryís largest church responded: ìWhen the Prime Minister is calling for a debate on the possible replacement of Trident, it is essential that people understand that the churches stand united in the belief that nuclear weapons are morally and theologically wrong.î
Continued McDonald: ìAs disciples of Christ, our calling is to be peacemakers today in the world. There can be no place for weapons of mass destruction in a world that God loves so much.î
Meanwhile, Cardinal O'Brien added: ìThe use of weapons of mass destruction would be a crime against God and against humanity that must never happen. Since it is immoral to use weapons of mass destruction in an act of war, equally, storing, accumulating and replacing them far from eliminating the causes of war actually risks aggravating them.î
The two church leaders will share a platform in Renfield St Stephens Church, Glasgow, on Tuesday 27 June 2006, when they will speak specifically against the replacement of Trident.
Anthea Cox, secretary for public affairs for the Methodist Church of Great Britain said on the BBC Radio Sunday programme today (25 June): ìIt [Trident replacement] would seriously undermine the governmentís own non-proliferation message.î
The Christian community should be advocating against nuclear arms as weapons of mass destruction, she added.
The Methodist Conference tomorrow (26 June) is likely to pass a resolution against the replacement of Trident.
The Trident submarine-based missile system and the Vanguard vessels which carry them need replacing by 2024 and a decision is set to be taken in the next year. Estimates of the costs involved vary from £10 to £25 billion, depending on what type of new missiles or submarines are chosen.
Critics point out that these weapons are not really independent, since the United States maintains an effective veto on their use.
[Also on Ekklesia: Scottish bishops signal Christian case against Trident nuclear weapons; Scottish churches in anti-nuclear petition; Christian allegations about secret nuclear weapons substantiated; Church leaders urge statement on UK's nuclear plans; Christians to mark Ash Wednesday with civil disobedience; Churches urged to tackle nuclear 'ignorance and complacency'; Plea for armed forces chaplains likely to be rejected; British Christians call for end to nuclear weapons; Catholic call to uphold nuclear non-proliferation]