From Sue Gilmurray
Sir, — Your balanced editorial of 14 August (Leader) acknowledged that, whether or not the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki shortened the war in the Far East, they ushered in an age in which humanity had to live with the potential destructiveness of such weapons.
One of your quotations from The Church and the Bomb, published in 1982, made nuclear disarmament the first and most urgent step towards “eradicating war altogether from the world’s agenda”. More than 30 years later, this first step has still not been taken. Our Government does not appear to think it important to honour our frequently affirmed ambition for multilateral nuclear disarmament. Moreover, at a time when budgets for health and welfare are being painfully trimmed, preparations are quietly being made for renewing Britain’s Trident weaponry at a cost likely to reach £100 billion.
The world’s recent and current conflicts have not been clearly defined contests between nations, but messy and inconclusive affairs, often involving fanatical religious groups that would have few scruples about using nuclear weapons if they could obtain them. Surely, any lingering belief that these weapons somehow protect us must be naïve indeed. Yet it is those who campaign for disarmament who are routinely accused of being naïve.
I support both Christian CND and the Anglican Pacifist Fellowship, not through naïvety, but because the consistent message of Christ and the whole New Testament, together with human pragmatism and common sense, urges us towards peacemaking instead of war-making. These peace groups remain minorities, instead of being embraced by the majority of church members. Yet, as your editorial says, this ambition “must be very near to the heart of God”. The inconsistency remains.
13 Danesway, Pinhoe
Exeter EX4 9ES
From Mr Richard Bickle
Sir, — I was interested to read your thoughtful leader comment on the “Victory” in Japan Day anniversary and the Church’s attitude to nuclear weapons.
I was disappointed, however, that you did not identify the key point about the 1982 report The Church and the Bomb, namely that the Church of England is the Established Church of a country with a significant nuclear arsenal that could conceivably be used.
While arguments about the nature of “deterrence” will no doubt be made, the fact is that the UK still holds many of these weapons and is about to renew its ability to deploy them via the Trident submarine fleet for another generation at huge cost to the taxpayer.
Readers may like to use Peace Sunday (20 September) and Remembrance-tide this year as an opportunity to reflect on what response we can make as Christians to the challenges of peacemaking and warfare. To that end, we have assembled various resources on our website at www.for.org.uk.
Chair of Trustees
The Fellowship of Reconciliation
Peace House, 19 Paradise Street
Oxford OX1 1LD