The staff leaders of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service have sent messages to US senators urging the ratification this year of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START II), signed by President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The message by the Rev Dr Michael Kinnamon, NCCUSA General Secretary, and the Rev John L. McCullough, CWS executive director and CEO, comes at a time when ratification of the treaty is uncertain during the 'lame duck' period before the 111th Congress adjourns.
Last week, the general assembly of the NCCUSA and CWS, meeting as a Centennial Ecumenical Gathering in New Orleans, unanimously adopted a call to ratify the treaty. Kinnamon and McCullough sent copies of the statement to US senators.
The statement urging passage of the treaty was sent to Senator Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada), majority leader of the Senate, and to Senator Jon Kyl (Republican, Arizona), minority whip, and all US senators. Kyl has cast doubt on the timing of a vote on the treaty, saying senators needed more time to study its implications.
"This treaty is a vital step in moving the United States into greater partnership with the world as it turns away from nuclear weapons," said the letter from Kinnamon and McCullough, quoting the General Assembly resolution.
They continued: “The United States as a whole has the chance to contribute to this global movement by shrinking the largest nuclear arsenal in the world.”
This treaty "cannot be caught in the gridlock of Capitol Hill. Its ratification is too important for the future and security of the United States and the world. On behalf of Christians across this country, we strongly urge you to bring the treaty to a vote, and to support ratification of START," the letter declared.
The Rev Jan Olav Flaaten, executive director of the Arizona Ecumenical Council, joined in the letter to Mr Kyl.
The General Assembly resolution declared the member communions and other groups are raising their collective voice to say to the US Senate: "Approve the START II treaty without delay!"
"We add that, while START II is important, it is not enough," the delegates said. "We live in a time when the tide is turning worldwide in the direction of complete nuclear disarmament. More than half the world's nations now live in regions classified by the United Nations as Nuclear Weapon Free Zones, and many cities in the United States have declared themselves nuclear free zones as well. The United States as a whole has the chance to contribute to this global movement by shrinking the largest nuclear arsenal in the world - toward the goal of their total elimination."
The full text of the resolution can be downloaded (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat file) at: http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/SALTII.pdf.
The letter to US senators can be downloaded (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat file) at: http://www.ncccusa.org/pdfs/STARTletterreid.pdf