Friday, October 13, 2023

US Lawmakers Should Learn from Faith-Based Leaders Demanding Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

September 29, 2023


 It is necessary to place this article in perspective.  Bishop Wester is the only Catholic bishop to issue a pastoral letter.  And almost all lawmakers are bribed by the weapons contractors. For example, my representative, Kweisi Mfume, refuses to co-sponsor H. Res. 77 despite the demands of many of his constituents.   Danny points out that 40 Reps have signed on. But what number is a tipping point?  200 or 300?  Kagiso, Max



Archbishop John C. Wester at the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.  (Michael Benanav/Searchlight New Mexico)

US Lawmakers Should Learn from Faith-Based Leaders Demanding Elimination of Nuclear Weapons

It’s up to us to demand politicians demonstrate the courage and vision to speak the inconvenient truth to power that nuclear deterrence, rather than protect us, puts us at ever increasing risk of eventual nuclear use.


Sep 29, 2023

Common Dreams


Earlier this week, the world observed the 10th International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons amidst the backdrop of unprecedented escalations in risk of nuclear war. Over the past two years, repeated Russian threats to use nuclear weapons in the war in Ukraine have dramatically weakened the “nuclear taboo.” The risk of a potentially civilization-ending nuclear war has risen to levels some experts say is at least has high as during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Rather than turning back from the brink of nuclear war, nuclear armed states are accelerating nuclear weapons spending. The U.S. alone is estimated to spend $756 billion on nuclear weapons in the next ten years.

Simultaneously, U.S. faith-based organizations and leaders such as Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico have taken remarkable action, urging the United States to respond to this high-risk moment by prioritizing the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. As an unprecedented election year approaches, lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives should listen to their message and cosponsor H. Res. 77 to support an active effort to eliminate all nuclear weapons globally.

"We can no longer deny or ignore the extremely dangerous predicament of our human family,” says Wester.

“We are in a new nuclear arms race far more dangerous than the first. Rather than viewing the war in Ukraine as an overwhelming impediment toward making substantial progress, we should view it instead as a clear demonstration of the absolute need to do so.”

For Wester, who wrote a 52-page pastoral letter calling for nuclear disarmament last year, it is a critical moment.

Wester’s sense of responsibility to respond immediately to this global crisis is a direct response to calls from Pope Francis, who several times during his papacy has urged the world to eliminate nuclear arsenals and spoke at the Peace Memorial in Hiroshima in November 2019.

It is also a personal issue for his congregants. His archdiocese is home to two of the country's three nuclear weapons research facilities and the largest U.S. repository of nuclear armaments.

"I believe that we in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and beyond are called to live in the light of Christ's peace and to reflect that light to all,” says Wester. "We need to rejuvenate a sustained serious conversation about universal, verifiable nuclear disarmament."

In May, while the leaders of the G7 nations gathered in Hiroshima, Wester issued an open letter alongside Archbishops Paul Etienne of Seattle, WA and Peter Michiaki Nakamura of Nagasaki, and Bishop Alexis Mitsuru Shirahama of Hiroshima urging these countries, some of the most powerful in the world, to "enter into serious multilateral negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament."

Together, these leaders represent the diocese with the most spending on nuclear weapons in the United States (Santa Fe, NM), the diocese with the most deployed strategic nuclear weapons in the United States (Seattle, WA), and the only two dioceses in the world to have suffered atomic attacks (Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan).

This statement was followed by a “Pilgrimage for Peace” by the four Catholic leaders in August in the cities of Tokyo, Akita, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki.

In addition to these initiatives, many national faith groups have also renewed their calls for nuclear abolition. Eleven national faith groups, including the National Council of Churches (NCC), the largest ecumenical body in the U.S., marked the July 16 anniversary of the 1945 Trinity test in New Mexico by signing an interfaith letter to Congress calling for several actions, including co-sponsorship of House Resolution 77 (H. Res. 77), which supports the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

H. Res.77 calls on the U.S. to adopt five policy prescriptions to reduce the risk of nuclear war while prioritizing multilateral negotiations among nuclear-armed states for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons to finally bring the nuclear age to a close. The resolution, originally introduced by Rep. Jim McGovern, is now cosponsored by 40 Members of Congress.

“The United States and all nuclear powers must renew negotiations to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons. For the sake of all people, around the world, we must end the existence of nuclear weapons on this planet, before nuclear weapons end the existence of human life on this planet,” says Rep. McGovern.

The Congressional resolution mirrors the policy prescriptions called for by the nationwide grassroots Back from the Brink campaign, a coalition of individuals, organizations, and elected officials working to fundamentally change U.S. nuclear weapons policy. The campaign has been endorsed by over 150 faith-based organizations, including the Episcopal Church, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Islamic Society of North America, Pax Christi-USA, Presbyterian Church, Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association, Soka Gakkai International-USA, United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries, and United Methodist General Board of Church and Society.

As Frederick Douglas famously said: “power concedes nothing without a demand.” It’s up to us to demand they demonstrate the political courage and vision to speak the inconvenient truth to power that nuclear deterrence, rather than protect us, puts us at ever increasing risk of eventual nuclear use.

Congress must recognize the severity of the high risk moment we face and the catastrophic civilization ending effects that would follow even so-called “limited nuclear war.” To turn back from the brink of nuclear annihilation, Congress should support H. Res. 77 and urge the administration to adopt this fundamentally different approach to nuclear weapons."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Danny Hall, Director of Public Affairs for Soka Gakkai International-USA (SGI-USA) and a Back from the Brink Steering Committee Member, reflects on the courageous actions faith leaders have taken in recent months to build international solidarity and urge political leaders to take tangible steps toward disarmament. He argues that Congress must listen to these leaders and pass H. Res. 77, which supports the goals and provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs



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