Evangelical leaders including the influential mega-church leader, Rick Warren, are pushing the Obama administration and Congress to engage in diplomacy with Iran and North Korea and to reduce US nuclear arsenals.
Quoting the Bible, the words of Jesus, and foreign policy experts such as George Shultz, the collection of college presidents, denominational executives, pastors, veterans, professors, and missionaries claim "overcoming the nuclear threat requires international cooperation" and "nuclear weapons are a moral threat" that must eventually be eliminated.
In their 'Matthew 5 Project' statement, they call "on our nation to be willing to talk with and listen to antagonists." They also offer strong support for the "new START" treaty.
The statement has been sent to President Obama, Vice President Biden, Secretary of State Clinton, Secretary of Defense Gates, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and all 535 members of Congress.
It argues that "Jesus is the realist" and argues that even though "the United States has crucial disagreements with Iran, Jesus does not say talks should be refused until we approve of the conduct of the adversary."
The statement also refers to the policy recommendations of George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, and other conservative national security experts who are now recommending the elimination of nuclear weapons.
"Nuclear weapons are a physical threat to the survival of human life on earth. Prominent national security experts have recently called for reducing and abolishing reliance on nuclear weapons, by verifiable international agreement, in order to enhance national security. This cannot be accomplished unilaterally; it requires international cooperation and verification" the statement says.
The broad scope of endorsements suggests sentiment among American Evangelicals may be moving toward the idea that the reduction and eventual elimination of nuclear weapons is both theologically necessary and politically possible.
After laying out their biblical, theological, and political cases, the statement culminates in a call to action that encourages American churches to engage in interfaith and international dialogue and to "urge international cooperation in continued step-by-step reductions, working toward ways to verify abolition of nuclear weapons worldwide."
The statement in full:
1. As Bible-believing Christians, we recognise Christ’s lordship over all areas of life. The end of the Cold War and the rise of global terrorist networks call for a renewed application of Jesus’ lordship and our own best moral convictions to meet the challenges of our time.
2. Jesus Christ Commands Us to Go, Make Peace with Our Adversary: Matthew 5:21-26 is a command, not an option; the apostle Paul followed it; so must we. This is the central theme of our statement.
3. Jesus Christ is Lord Over Every Area of Life, in Our Relations with All the World: The sanctity of all human life created in the image of God includes all persons. The Holy Spirit empowers us to make our witness to even the remotest part of the earth. God is revealed in Christ and sovereign over the whole world.
4. Overcoming the Nuclear Threat Requires International Cooperation: Our church experience of getting adversaries to talk together, as well as the historical examples of North Korea, Libya, Iran, and sixteen nations that were persuaded not to develop nuclear weapons, show the realism in our context of Jesus’ command to go talk with an adversary to make peace while there’s time.
5. Governments Need International Checks and Balances: Government is part of God’s good creation, but is also fallen and therefore in need of checks and balances, and respect for law. This applies also to governments that have the power to create enormous destruction. We honor our elders, who saw the devastating destruction of World War II, and dedicated themselves to creating international networks so that the scourge of war might be prevented.
6. Nuclear Weapons are a Physical and Moral Threat that Need International Agreement: Nuclear weapons are a physical threat to the survival of human life on earth. They are also a grave moral threat. Prominent national security experts have recently called for reducing and abolishing reliance on nuclear weapons, by verifiable international agreement, in order to enhance national security. This cannot be accomplished unilaterally; it requires international cooperation and verification.
7. A Call for Action: In order to safeguard life, liberty, community, and security for its own citizens and for the world, the United States must demonstrate moral leadership in protecting the human rights of the most vulnerable, strengthening the rule of law in the international community, and seeking diplomatic negotiations with allies and enemies alike. Christians should pray for our leaders and leaders of other nations. We urge churches to teach members ethics for discernment, including just peacemaking practices based on the teachings of Jesus, so they are well prepared to meet today’s challenges in ways faithful to Christ. We encourage church groups to consider engaging in interfaith dialogue and witness, and in building international partnership with fellow Christians around the world. We call for governmental action to oppose the rise in global terrorism by working for international justice and peacemaking. We call for verifiable international reduction of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction. We affirm that overcoming the threat of global poverty, global warming, global terrorism, regional insecurity, and nuclear war, requires international cooperation. We call for obedience to the Lordship of Christ in all that we do, including talking with an adversary and seeking to make peace.