London, UK - OCT 26, 2009 Results from a poll being released in the run up to Remembrance Sunday suggest that many British Christians want troops withdrawn from Afghanistan and an end to all UK arms exports.
Many also want the UK's nuclear arsenal to be completely decommissioned.
The survey, taken at the Greenbelt Festival in August, but whose results are released today, suggests that a large percentage of British Christians now see peace and nonviolence as central to their faith.
Of those polled:
- 60% wanted an immediate end to UK arms exports, with a further 22% saying that arms should be sold only in "extreme situations".
- Only 9% said that UK troops should remain in Afghanistan until "the war is won". 61% want a timetable to be set for withdrawal, while 30% wanted the troops home by December.
- Nearly half the Christians questioned (45%) wanted the UK to decommission all its nuclear weapons immediately, with only 3% believing that nuclear arms have "kept the peace".
- 57% said that UK military spending should be reduced, with only 13% thinking it should be increased.
- 24% agreed said that they "totally agreed" with the statement that "To be a Christian is to be totally committed to nonviolence". A further 45% said that they "mostly agreed".
Acknowledging the limitations of the poll sample taken at one Christian festival, and that the results give just a snapshot of the opinion of a certain group of Christians at a specific time, the results were welcomed by the religion and society thinktank Ekklesia. Ekklesia's associate director, Symon Hill, said:
"Even taking into account its limitations, the results of this poll are a challenge to those who see Christians as bogged down with internal squabbles and trivialities. Large numbers of Christians clearly view peace and nonviolence as central to the Christian message.
"While some may bemoan the churches' loss of status in a post-Christendom society, it seems that Christians' more marginal position allows them to take a more critical approach to power and war. It is particularly important to recognise this at a time when thousands of churches are about to host commemorations for the dead on Remembrance Day".
The poll was carried out between 28-31 August 2009 by the Network of Christian Peace Organisations (NCPO). 160 people of various age ranges took part in the survey. 44% were thirty or under and 29% were over forty-five.