Thought for the Week

It IS now over 67 years since nuclear weapons were used in war.

Six years ago I visited the city of Hiroshima, on which the first atomic bomb was dropped, and I heard at first hand the stories of some of those who survived.

Nuclear weapons these days, such as the ones on Trident submarines, are much more powerful than those used on Japan at the end of the Second World War.

It was therefore with real sadness that I read that the Scottish National Party is considering changing its policy and joining an alliance (NATO) which is prepared to use weapons of mass destruction.

Jesus told his followers to love their neighbour and to love their enemies.

Christians in the first three centuries were overwhelmingly pacifists and refused to fight.

Saints such as Maximilian and Martin faced death rather than being willing to serve in the armed forces.

With the advent of Christian governments, many Christians, supported by the church, modified their standpoint and were prepared to be part of the military.

However, this was still within an ethic of the just war which placed clear boundaries as to what was and what was not acceptable in warfare. And what was always deemed unacceptable included the killing of innocent civilians and non-combatants and the use of disproportionate violence.

The catechism of the Roman Catholic church summarises widely held Christian belief when it states that, ‘Every act of war directed to the indiscriminate destruction of whole cities or vast areas with their inhabitants is a crime against God and man, which merits firm and unequivocal condemnation.’

The use of a weapon of mass destruction is such an act of war.

While not all NATO members have weapons of mass destruction based in their countries, all members are signed up to nuclear weapons being used on their behalf.

So in principle, NATO membership carries with it an acceptance of the morality of using weapons of mass destruction. Further, NATO is willing to be the first to use nuclear weapons.

Supporting membership of NATO  erodes the possibility of a principled objection to Trident on moral grounds.

If we want to get rid of nuclear weapons, we should not sign up to membership of an alliance which depends on such weapons.

Advocacy of Scottish membership of an alliance such as NATO, which is prepared to use weapons of mass destruction, would make it much more difficult for Scotland credibly and with integrity to oppose such weapons and to work towards nuclear disarmament.

Jesus points to the way of peace, non-violence and reconciliation – not to the threatened use of weapons of mass destruction.

David Mumford,

Rector, St. Andrew’s, Brechin