Christians have shared communion while participating in a blockade of the Faslane nuclear weapons base in Scotland. The “symbolic blockade” today (3 April) forms part of a day of action across Europe, as campaigners from various countries call for the removal of nuclear arms from the entire continent.
The communion was distributed by six ministers from Scottish Clergy Against Nuclear Arms (SCANA). Around 100 people are reported to have joined the blockade after walking from the Faslane Peace Camp, which has maintained a continuous protest against nuclear arms for 27 years.
Two days ago, a letter signed by Christian leaders in Scotland called for “the billions of pounds spent on nuclear weapons” to be “used instead to help the nation's most vulnerable citizens”. Signatories included the Moderator of the Church of Scotland General Assembly, the Rt Rev Bill Hewitt and the Roman Catholic Cardinal, Keith O'Brien.
“The churches in Scotland have been absolutely clear that nuclear weapons are immoral,” said the Rev David McLachlan, minister of Langside Church of Scotland in Glasgow, who attended today's blockade, “As Christians and clergy we are called to take a stand against them”.
He insisted that, “It is unacceptable for the UK and NATO to threaten to use nuclear weapons, because they are indiscriminate. If Trident is ever used it will mean the death of millions of innocent people. That’s what deterrence means.”
The UK government is committed to the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system, despite opposition from faith groups, trades unions, NGOs and charities. Recent polls have shown a majority of the population to be opposed to the plan.
Protests have also taken place today in Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Turkey.
They come shortly before next month's international summit to review the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Last week, the governments of the USA and Russia announced a deal that will involve major cuts in their nuclear warheads.
"Nuclear weapons know no borders,” said Brian Larkin of Trident Ploughshares, “Friends across Europe today are calling for the all European countries with nuclear weapons to act now to disarm. European peace movements are calling on the governments meeting at the NPT review conference at the UN in May to commit to negotiations leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons.”