World faiths call for the abolition of nuclear weapons

By staff writers
9 Dec 2009

Buddhist, Christian, Jewish and Muslim representatives joined voices on 7 December, calling for moral leadership by all the world's faiths in helping to mobilise for the effort to abolish nuclear weapons.

The call came e during the Parliament of the World's Religions in Melbourne, Australia.

Dr Sue Wareham, former president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia) and board member of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), stressed the vital role people of faith can play as she chaired a panel on 'Nuclear Weapons Abolition: Response and Advocacy by Religious Communities.'

Ibrahim Ramey, director of human and civil rights of the Muslim American Society Freedom Foundation, commented: "All religions share a common wish for peace and reject nuclear weapons. Morally, nuclear weapons do not have any role or reason to exist in our world."

Kimiaki Kawai, programme director of peace affairs of Soka Gakkai International (SGI), outlined the organisation's efforts to strengthen grassroots momentum toward nuclear abolition through its 'People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition' initiative. SGI states that it is imperative for civil society organisations to take the lead in generating a global groundswell of public opinion and getting this message heard by policy-makers.

Other speakers were Paul Morris, professor of religious studies at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, who contributed a Jewish perspective, and the Rev Dr. Wes Campbell, Uniting Church chaplain at the University of Melbourne.

On 6 December, during another panel on nuclear disarmament, Judge Christopher Weeramantry, former judge of the International Court of Justice, stated: "There is danger of the possibility of extermination in one millisecond of all that has been built up for millennia. We have to stop that. The only way to stop it is to generate public consciousness of this agenda. If each one of us stands up and raises their voice, we can abolish nuclear weapons."

Hirotsugu Terasaki, SGI's Executive Director for Peace Affairs responded, concurring that the time is right for increased efforts toward nuclear abolition in the run-up to the May 2010 NPT Review Conference.

The SGI anti-nuclear exhibition "From a Culture of Violence to a Culture of Peace: Transforming the Human Spirit" is also showing during the Parliament in the Melbourne Convention Centre until 9 December 2009.

The Parliament of the World's Religions, which takes place in a different location every five years, is the world's largest interfaith gathering, bringing together over 8,000 representatives of a wide array of faiths to build bridges and address global issues.

The Soka Gakkai International Buddhist association has a 50-year track record of efforts toward nuclear abolition. It launched the People's Decade for Nuclear Abolition in 2007 to help galvanise grassroots momentum toward this end, working together with initiatives such as the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN). See: www.peoplesdecade.org

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