International Political

 

6 AUGUST 2020

The following statement has been released by 189 organisations representing different faiths, on the 75th Anniversary of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

As a wide coalition of faith-based communities from around the world, we have committed to speaking with one voice that rejects the existential threat to humanity that nuclear weapons pose. We reaffirm that the presence of even one nuclear weapon violates the core principles of our different faith traditions and threatens the unimaginable destruction of everything we hold dear. Nuclear weapons are not only a future risk, their presence here and now undermines the ethical and moral foundations of the common good. We call for your commitment to a world that is more peaceful, safe, and just—a world only possible with the elimination of nuclear weapons.

August 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki—attacks which devastated these cities causing up to 213,000 deaths by the end of 1945 and many more in the following years. The attacks inflicted excruciating pain and suffering on both humans and the environment.

We are grateful for the global hibakusha, survivors, who have courageously borne witness, often in the face of intimidation and the recurring tragedy of loss and illness. We must meet the courage of the survivors with our own. We must abolish nuclear weapons forever.

We lament the racism and colonialism that drove the nuclear-weapon States to test their weapons on the communities that they deemed expendable, lives far away from their own, lives that mattered less, lives that were taken in pursuit of destructive power for a few. We acknowledge the immense suffering, oppression and exploitation faced by the Indigenous communities around the world whose bodies, lands, waters and air have served as the testing grounds for the ambitions of those who dominate with force.

Few who believe in the disingenuous notion of nuclear deterrence have witnessed or experienced the devastation of these weapons in their own communities. After seventy-five years we can see that nuclear weapons have not brought an end to war. Nuclear weapons do not create peace, rather they intensify the scourge and threat of war in our world, lives and communities. Because they are designed to cause massive and indiscriminate destruction, because they siphon precious resources that are needed to meet human needs and protect our shared planet, and because they enforce and sustain a global system based on domination and unending violence, the existence of nuclear weapons fundamentally contradicts the principles of any moral, religious and ethical system that values life.

Whilst many of our lives and imaginations might be far removed from memories of “hell on earth” and the legacies of environmental impacts, shattering health conditions and trauma wrought in a nuclear explosion, the impacts of the current global health crisis have given us all a glimpse into how life would change in the event of a nuclear explosion. Like the COVID-19 pandemic, the health, environmental and economic consequences would not be contained in space or time. Nuclear tests and accidents have revealed that radiation spreads through the atmosphere, oceans, plants, animals, and whole human populations. Our economies, production chains and ability to grow food would be severely disrupted.

Many have consigned the stories of the horrors of this time to our distant past—stories only to be revisited when certain leaders deem it necessary to remind their citizens what others might do to them if they give up their own nuclear capacities. But we will not forget or ignore the powerful witness of those affected by developing, testing and using nuclear weapons. We are committed to ending nuclear weapons forever to honor the global hibakusha and to save our children, grandchildren, and future generations from experiencing what they suffered. As we build a world where equality, peace and justice are abundant for all, there is no place for nuclear weapons in our shared future.

Despite commitments made—including under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)—nuclear-weapon States have continued to maintain and develop their nuclear arsenals, while other States have worked to acquire them.

Despite our clear-eyed awareness of the dangers of the present moment, we are united in our irrepressible belief that change for the good is possible—in individual lives and in our world. We know that in the most dangerous and threatening times, human beings are capable of cooperation, creative problem-solving and mutual trust. Indeed, the existence of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) itself reaffirms that hopefulness. The NPT was born out of a moment when fears about nuclear war and distrust were at a peak, and it acted as a beacon to remind nations that international collaboration was possible and that each nation’s security does not demand the insecurity of others, but rather is contingent upon the security of all. We find ourselves again in such a moment in which the reaffirmation of international norms and the embrace of the NPT’s ultimate promise—abolition—must be realized.

In 2017, this goal of abolition moved closer to becoming reality when the UN adopted the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, calling for the complete elimination of all nuclear weapons. Once 50 States have ratified it, it will enter into force.

We urge our governments to use the opportunity of the 75th anniversary of the only occasion that nuclear weapons have been used in conflict, to ensure that they are never used again in any circumstances. We call upon all States to join the growing community of States which have rejected nuclear weapons entirely. We appeal to you to ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.   

Signed by: 189 organisations representing different faiths, including

The Methodist Church
The United Reformed Church
The Church of Scotland

Coordinated by Faith Communities Concerned about Nuclear Weapons

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The Revd Dr Barbara Glasson, President of the Methodist Conference, has released a statement following the US Government announcement on settlements. 21st Nov 2019

As President of the Methodist Conference I have recently had the privilege of visiting and talking with many people in Israel and the West Bank. Other colleagues from the Methodist Connexional Team and Global Relations  have supported long-term relationships in the region and Gaza.  The many people we have spoken with recognise that compromises will be required of both communities to achieve a lasting peace, but I am concerned that comments by the US government that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not illegal may cause further destabilisation of the region.

In visiting the West Bank I heard how the expansion of settlements has caused the demolition of Palestinian houses and schools. In Hebron I could see the expansion upwards over the top of Palestinian businesses and houses.  Settlements are cutting off Palestinian communities and further restricting freedom of movement. They compromise the ambition for economic prosperity and a secure future for all. The current expansion of the military occupation of the West Bank apparently pushes the search for a resolution even further into the future.

In 2015, the UN Security Council again insisted that Israeli settlements in the West Bank “have no legal validity, constituting a flagrant violation under international law.” Feeling powerless in their situation, the Palestinians I spoke with appealed for international support to help them live peaceful lives and achieve self-determination. I know there are many Israelis, including some that I met, who are also longing for a lasting peace. It is therefore of great concern to read of the recent actions of the US government in relation to the region.

I add my voice to the many who are challenging the recent actions of the U.S. government. This situation is not simply about international politics but about ordinary people searching for a peaceful means to live together. 

On behalf of the Methodist Church I urge the UK government, along with others, to impress on the Government of Israel that the continued military occupation is unacceptable at both a political and a human level.

 

 

 

 

President Trump and Immigration - United Methodist statement

Minneapolis: Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, issued a statement regarding President Trump's executive order on immigration at a press conference sponsored by the Minnesota Council of Churches. The 'event, held at Hennepin United Methodist Church, gathered faith leaders to discuss the topic of immigration. Bishop Ough participated in today's event in his role as resident bishop of the Dakotas-Minnesota Area of The United Methodist Church. The statement maintains The United Methodist Church's unity in standing with other faith traditions to denounce the order, as well as calling all to remember Jesus' words from Matthew 10:40: "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me."

"I call upon the people of The United Methodist Church to see the face of Christ in the refugee," Bishop Ough said. "Say 'no' to the walling off of our country and our hearts and say 'yes' to their hope - our hope - for new life. Let us unite and work together to bring the soul of this country to a living birth!"

The full text of Bishop Ough's statement follows:
Today, I stand with colleagues representing several faith traditions to strongly denounce President Trump's widespread attack on immigrants and refugees. President Trump's reckless, ill-conceived executive orders will divide families, impose a religious test for Muslims facing forced migration, penalize communities providing sanctuary and wall off the United States from our neighbors. These actions are expensive, unnecessary and profoundly antithetical to our values of compassion, dignity and justice for all individuals regardless of nationality, religious affiliation or legal status.

The biblical witness is clear and unambiguous. Walls are unbiblical. Hospitality is biblical. Denying one's neighbor is unbiblical. Welcoming the stranger is biblical. It is not surprising that Judaism, Christianity and Islam teach the reign of God as a banquet to which all peoples are invited. We are to welcome the sojourner, love our neighbor and stand with the most vulnerable among us. These very values from our sacred texts and faith traditions are currently reflected in the mandate of the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program and must not be usurped by any executive order. Orders, legislation or administrative actions that would have the U.S. State Department disqualify refugees from protection and resettlement based on their nationality or religion are a denial of the very principles this nation was built upon, contradict the legacy of leadership our country has offered the world, and dishonor our shared humanity.

Jesus was explicit in his teachings. In Matthew's gospel Jesus says, "Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." (Matthew 10:40).

Refugees and immigrants arrive among us, not only with their needs, but also bearing gifts of energy, resourcefulness, love of liberty and hope. These gifts have always contributed to the renewal of our society and the church.

Above all, these strangers bring to us the Christ. When we welcome a stranger we welcome Jesus, and when we welcome Jesus we welcome our creator. Refugees, immigrants, those yearning to be free-these are the ones whom Jesus spoke about when he said, "I was a stranger and you welcomed me" (Matthew 25:35).

Repeatedly Jesus tells his disciples:

"For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:25)

The original Greek language is far more poetic, powerful and prophetic. In finer translations of the Greek language, we hear Jesus saying:

"Whoever seeks to build a wall around their soul shall destroy it; whoever tears down the wall (around their soul) shall bring their soul to a living birth."

The very soul of our country is at stake. When we abandon strangers who are at risk of bigotry, xenophobia and violence we not only destroy their hope, we destroy our own souls. When we fail to assist the refugees fleeing danger, we not only place them in harm's way, we do harm to our own souls. When we build walls of concrete, or walls of divisive rhetoric, or walls of fear, or walls of immoral immigration policies, we build a wall around our own souls.

Christ calls us to tear down the walls around our souls that we might live fully and abundantly. Thus, I call on the Trump administration and the U.S. Congress to rescind the harmful executive orders and save the soul of our country. I call upon the people of The United Methodist Church to see the face of Christ in the refugee. Say "no" to the walling off of our country and our hearts and say "yes" to their hope - our hope - for new life. Let us unite and work together to bring the soul of this country to a living birth!

Bishop Bruce R. Ough, President
Council of Bishops
The United Methodist Church
January 30, 2017

         


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