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Religious Strategists: The Churches and Nuclear Weapons

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Journal article

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In 1945 Winston Churchill turned his thoughts toward Hiroshima and described the atomic bomb as a miracle of deliverance. I Three decades later Pope John Paul II returned to Hiroshima to speak of the horror of nuclear war, and to call on all humanity to work untiringly for the banishment of all nuclear weapons. With more than 500,000 nuclear warheads in the world today, few would speak of them as miraculous instruments. Only those blinded to the devastation of nuclear war could visualize these weapons as a satisfactory military solution today. This truth is certain but is it sufficient To prevent nuclear war we must be prepared to prevent aggression that might lead to the use of these weapons by ourselves or by others who possess them. That is, we prepare for nuclear war to prevent nuclear war-a form of defense we call deterrence. Perhaps no one has articulated the ethical dilemma posed by nuclear weapons more graphically than Reinhold Niebuhr. When the H-bomb was developed he wrote, Thus we have come into the tragic position of developing a form of destruction which, if used by our enemies against us, would mean our physical annihilation and if used by us against our enemies, would mean our moral annihilation. What shall we do After more than 30 years, with even greater urgency, we still debate Niebuhrs question What shall we do to deter aggression in the nuclear age A search through virtually any bookstore will uncover numerous paperbacks addressing the nuclear dilemma. Almost daily, newspapers report demonstrations against nuclear weapons in the United States and around the world. In recent years Christian and Jewish bodies have joined this protest with unprecedented enthusiasm. Indeed, the major religious groups have launched a crusade against nuclear weapons. Since 1980, churches and synagogues representing more than 100 million Americans have issued official statements that criticize nuclear weapons and US deterrence policy.

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  • Humanities and History
  • Nuclear Warfare
  • Nuclear Weapons

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