A “feeble and ineffective” measure.

That’s how Baptist, Methodist and United Reformed Church leaders described Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s recent announcement that Britain was prepared to consider cutting its fleet of nuclear-armed submarines by a quarter.

The three general secretaries – Rev. Jonathan Edwards (Baptist), Rev. Martyn Atkins (Methodist) and Rev. Roberta Rominger (United Reformed Church) – made their statement following Brown’s announcement at the United Nations Security Council that one of Britain’s four submarines could be taken out of service.

The move “does nothing to support moves towards global nuclear disarmament and very little to alleviate pressure on public finances,” the statement said.

“It is becoming ever clearer that our future security cannot rely on the outmoded concept of nuclear deterrence. As Christians, we believe that a world free of nuclear weapons is not only desirable but realistic.

“We welcome the Government’s stated commitment to the cause of global nuclear disarmament but urge the Government to combine words and action.”

Brown also signaled a willingness to cut the total number of nuclear warheads possessed by the United Kingdom, offering “a grand global bargain between nuclear weapon and non nuclear weapons states.”

The moves were given a cautious welcome by the Baptist Peace Fellowship.

Its committee issued a statement noting that Baptists had opposed nuclear weapons in six assemblies since 1950 and “must welcome the first signs of an international move to reduce the numbers of such weapons and their delivery systems.”

“Although this falls far short of a total ban, it confirms our belief that such systems are not only opposed to God’s creative activity but are also ineffective against present threats,” the statement continued.

“Reduction in numbers of weapons by the nuclear powers supports the conditions of the Non Proliferation Treaty and would demonstrate to rising powers like Iran that they do not need nuclear weapons to prove their status as significant nations on the world stage.”

The Baptist Peace Fellowship is encouraging churches and individuals to write to their members of Parliament to support moves to stop the development of a Trident replacement.

On a visit to Nagasaki recently, the Archbishop of Canterbury said, “However precisely we seek to make real the hope of a world without nuclear arms, we should not lose sight of the need to make real moral choices about them. Even a small step is an act of witness.”

This article appeared originally in The Baptist Times of Great Britain.

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