The Common Good

A New Movement to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Sojomail - July 22, 2010


“ customers now purchase more Kindle books than hardcover books -- astonishing when you consider that we’ve been selling hardcover books for 15 years, and Kindle books for 33 months.”

- Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. (Source: The Washington Post)

+ Sign up to receive "Verse and Voice" - our daily quote and Bible verse email

Hearts & Minds by Jim Wallis

A New Movement to Abolish Nuclear Weapons

Get a free trial issue of Sojourners Get a free issue of Sojourners
Donate to Support Sojourners
Donate to support

The famed Chautauqua Institution devoted this entire week to the theme of nuclear disarmament. It is a sign of the times. Chautauqua has often been known for sensing the nation’s pulse and what is on the cutting edge of its thinking. And after becoming a dormant public issue since the end of the Cold War, the threat of nuclear weapons has again created a new movement toward the goal of a world without them.

One important sign of a shifting mindset came in 2007 when four of America’s preeminent Cold Warriors -- George Shultz, Sam Nunn, William Perry, and Henry Kissinger -- made headlines by co-authoring an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal saying, “The world is now on the precipice of a new and dangerous nuclear era.” One year later, they wrote another WSJ column that began with the sentence, “The accelerating spread of nuclear weapons, nuclear know-how, and nuclear material has brought us to a nuclear tipping point.”

Former Senator Sam Nunn, a consistent hawk who always talked about “political realism” when he represented Georgia in the U.S. Senate, was a speaker at Chautauqua on Monday and got a standing ovation when he called for a “world free of nuclear weapons.” That, according to Nunn and his fellow four horsemen, is the only realistic way to security now. As the men have warned, “The likelihood that non-state terrorists will get their hands on nuclear weaponry is increasing ... We face a very real possibility that the deadliest weapons ever invented could fall into dangerous hands.”

In fact, nuclear weapons in any human hands have always been dangerous. The failure of the United States and Russia to disarm their largest nuclear arsenals after the Cold War is a principle cause of the threat of the proliferation of nuclear weapons to more countries, failed states, and even terrorist organizations.

And now, we have a president who cares about nuclear disarmament. In the spring of 2009, in his first major speech in Europe -- in Prague -- Barack Obama affirmed his commitment. He pledged that “as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. We cannot succeed in this endeavor alone, but we can lead it, we can start it. So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” I am told that this is something that keeps Obama up at night.

But for me, perhaps the most important sign of the times is a new generation of young Christian leaders who have identified nuclear weapons as an issue of faith -- much as we did as young Christian activists in the 1980s. Their commitment is best exemplified by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson and his Two Futures Project, which calls itself “a movement of American Christians for the abolition of all nuclear weapons. We believe that we face two futures and one choice: a world without nuclear weapons or a world ruined by them. We support the multilateral, global, irreversible, and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, as a biblically grounded mandate and as a contemporary security imperative.”

Tyler gave an amazing speech at Chautauqua this week, and was down in front when I spoke yesterday. Sojourners was a leader in the movement to abolish nuclear weapons in the 1970s and ‘80s, and I described that history -- how the faith community was the animating core of that initiative for peace in the midst of the Cold War. I told the audience that when Tyler first called me about a new statement of Christian leaders that he had initiated and asked if I would sign it, I wept after putting down the phone. A new generation had decided to pick up the nuclear challenge once again, and would now be an intellectual and spiritual force for the disarmament that is now so crucial to the security of the world and of my two boys. Spending the day with Tyler and his wife Natalie was the highlight of my visit to Chautauqua.

To reverse the habits of the heart -- the assumptions and policies that have dominated U.S. national security policy for more than 60 years -- will be a monumental achievement. And the pressures against that happening will be enormous. Indeed, this is a job for faith -- and for the kind of social movements that faith at its best has always inspired. The energetic commitment of a new generation of believers in accomplishing this magnificent goal will be absolutely crucial. Perhaps after all the years of struggle on the huge theological and political issues surrounding nuclear weapons, the time for a new beginning has finally come. It’s time to end the nuclear threat to our world, our humanity, and our faith.

The response of the people at Chautauqua to that call this week gave me a new sense of hope.

E-mail Email this article to friends
Facebook Share this article on Facebook
Comment Comment on this article on the God's Politics Blog

Inside Sojourners Magazine

The Federal Deficit and How to Reduce It

Want to reduce the federal deficit? Then big cuts in military spending are essential. In this month's Sojourners magazine, economist Marcellus Andrews explains, "Those among us who wish to beat the eagle’s sword into ploughshares must acknowledge that we ask nothing less than economic and social revolution... ."

+Read Marcellus Andrews' article on military spending in this month's Sojourners magazine.

Building a Movement

On the Move: Immigration Today and in Scripture

Join Christians for Comprehensive Immigration Reform as we partner with Rev. Dr. David Vasquez of Luther College for an in-depth online conversation on migration, faith, and advocacy on Thursday, August 12, at 1 p.m. EDT. Using webinar conferencing technology, we will explore how biblical stories inform the lives of people on the move today and how their experiences open up the scriptures in new ways. Hear stories from Rev. Vasquez's year-long sabbatical studying scripture with migrant communities, and learn how you can deepen your ministry with people on the move.

Register today at


+ See what's new on the blog of Jim Wallis and friends

An Open Letter to Pastors: Our Nation Needs Immigration Reform
by Matthew Soerens

Dear Pastors, This week, a group called NumbersUSA sent out a message to hundreds of thousands of Americans to ask them to please contact their pastor.
+ Click to continue

A Republican Pastor for Immigration Reform
by Rev. Gary Wiley

My name is Rev. Gary Wiley, pastor of justice and care at Trinity Grace Church in New York City. I am an evangelical Christian.
+ Click to continue

Shirley Sherrod's True Revelation
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

The controversy over the injustice done to Shirley Sherrod, the African-American woman whose comments on race were taken out of context, misreported, and who was fired from her job at the U.S. Department of Agriculture does not capture the essence of her personal journey.
+ Click to continue

A Rare Opportunity for Direct Civil Disobedience in Arizona by Will Travers
Since the recent passage of Arizona Senate Bill 1070, scheduled to go into effect on July 29, those of us working for social justice in the United States have a rare opportunity to register a particularly effective form of protest.
+ Click to continue

"CO2 is Green": More Big Oil Propaganda
by Rose Marie Berger

Big oil and big coal are worried about the upcoming climate change legislation. They're especially worried about what it will do to their bottom line.
+ Click to continue

Glenn Beck and the Foolishness of the Cross
by Rachel Johnson

Should Christians reject the cross of Jesus Christ? Listen to Glenn Beck and it would be reasonable to think that the answer is yes.
+ Click to continue

The Fruit of the Spirit For Everyone, Not Just Women
by Lisa Baumert

Kindness, gentleness, love, peace, joy. Would you be more likely to describe these character traits as "masculine" or "feminine"? If you answered "feminine," you would not be alone -- but you would be wrong.
+ Click to continue

BP Deliberately Alters Images from Houston Command
by Sheldon C. Good

BP is spewing sludge into the world again, this time via the Internet, not the Gulf. Though BP CEO Tony Hayward has been victim of countless gaffes over the past few months (and will likely have to resign before October), the company's latest bonehead move was revealed yesterday by Americablog.
+ Click to continue

Help for the Unemployed, Now 60 Percent Off!
by Elizabeth Palmberg

We're in a recession with four or five job seekers to every open job, according to the latest stats -- so it's not news that the government is sending more in unemployment benefits to those out of work than it did a few years ago.
+ Click to continue

Glenn Beck and a Neighborless Christianity
by Julie Clawson

I want to thank Glenn Beck. His recent tirade against liberation theology has granted that particular conversation more press time than it's been given in years.
+ Click to continue

Glenn Beck, Wrong Again
by Valerie Elverton Dixon

Once again, Glenn Beck has waded into theological waters beyond his depth. This time he calls liberation theology a perversion of the Christian message.
+ Click to continue

A Sermon on the "Good" Samaritan
by Nadia Bolz-Weber

From what I hear, if you are taking a trip to the Holy Land you can visit the actual road from Jerusalem to modern-day Jericho, and local tour guides are happy, for the right price, to show you the exact spot where the Good Samaritan helped the man found beaten by thieves.
+ Click to continue

Why National Flags Don't Belong in Church
by Celeste Kennel Shank

When I first heard the announcement to rise for "the presentation of the colors," I didn't understand what that was.
+ Click to continue

Gulf Apocalypse: Don't Watch This Video
by Rose Marie Berger

Conservationist John L. Wathen a.k.a. "Hurricane Creek Creekkeeper" has been producing powerful videos of the BP oil catastrophe.
+ Click to continue

Top Secret America
by Duane Shank

A retired Army general asked to review the programs last year for the Defense Department was quoted in the article as concluding: "Because it lacks a synchronizing process, it inevitably results in message dissonance, reduced effectiveness and waste. We consequently can't effectively assess whether it is making us more safe."
+ Click to continue

Cruise Ships: Dark Secrets Below Deck
by Jessica Liegh

While working as an entertainer on a cruise ship, I often sat in one of the many distinguished seats on board that reflected my status.
+ Click to continue

What Do We Do When There Are No Simple Solutions?
by Christine Sine

The other day, I got together with a pastor friend who is feeling discouraged and overwhelmed by the extent of the Gulf oil spill and his inability to respond.
+ Click to continue

Friday Links Round-Up
by Jeannie Choi

Missing God. Modern day slavery. A crawfisher turned crooner. Here's a little round-up of links from the web you may have missed this week.
+ Click to continue

The Oil Has Stopped, But How Can I Keep From Praying?
by Jennifer Kottler

It is with cautious optimism that I write these words: Apparently, oil has stopped flowing into the Gulf (at least from the spot where we had been watching oil gush into the waters of the Gulf.)
+ Click to continue

Bad Theology in the House of Representatives
by Allie Bullard

Wednesday morning I listened to a House Judiciary Committee hearing on "The Ethical Imperative for Reform of Our Immigration System."
+ Click to continue

Follow the Money
by LaVonne Neff

That could be the conclusion of an op-ed piece in the New York Times, "Economics Behaving Badly." People make irrational decisions all the time, say authors George Loewenstein and Peter Ubel, and the field of behavioral economics helps to explain why.
+ Click to continue

The Importance of Being Engineers
by Brian McLaren

I often say that one of my favorite parts of being a pastor for 24 years was pronouncing the benediction each week at the end of gathered worship.
+ Click to continue

Excuse Me, Senator Grassley, Did I Hear You Correctly?
by Jennifer Kottler

Pardon me, Senator Grassley, but you are simply incorrect in stating that Wall Street is "really" backing this reform, or ever did back this reform.
+ Click to continue

Changing the Script on Political Theology
by Becky Garrison

When I picked up a copy of Daniel Schultz's book Changing the Script: An Authentically Faithful and Authentically Progressive Political Theology for the 21st Century, I was intrigued by his analysis of how he applied work of Old Testament scholar and theologian Walter Brueggemann into forming a progressive political theology.
+ Click to continue


+ Sign up to receive our "Daily Digest" email - the latest headlines on critical issues

Top Stories:

Beck's long history of ripping quotes out of context
Media Matters
Beck distorted Wallis' remarks on "redistribution of wealth" to attack him as a "Marxist."
+Click to continue

Rev. Kottler speaks at Pro-Earth/ Tisha B'Av rally
On Faith

Anti-social justice campaigner challenged by Christians
Ekklesia (United Kingdom)

For Wallis, disarmament rooted in morality and faith
The Chautauquan Daily

Odds and Ends
Christianity Today blog

GOP Reps. Cite The Bible To Support Harsh Crackdowns Against Undocumented Immigrants
Think Progress

"Sojourners in the news" articles are the most recent news clippings that mention Sojourners in any way - whether favorably or unfavorably. Though we provide the text on our site for your convenience, we do not necessarily endorse the views of these articles or their source publications.

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Click Here!

Scared of being ‘left behind’? What does Revelation really teach us? Explore this question with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Apocalypse. Use it this Sunday with your small group - available online. Click here.

T-Shirts That Teach. Start a conversation everywhere you go with Sojourners' tees on faith and social justice. Click here for more information. Starting at $10.

Is God green? What does the Bible tell us about protecting the earth? Find out with Sojourners’ four-part study guide, Christians and the Environment. Learn more.

Click Here!

GIVE TO SOJOURNERS: Donate now to support this voice for justice and peace.

GET THE MAGAZINE: Subscribe today

CONTACT US: General inquiries: | Advertising: | About Us

PRIVACY NOTICE: Sojourners won't trade, sell, or give away your e-mail address. Read our privacy policy.