Leith Anderson is President of the National Association of Evangelicals. (Photo credit: Faith Minute)
In a November 8 media conference call, the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) released its new resolution calling for multilateral reductions in nuclear arms. It suggested that possession of nukes may be idolatrous. But it did not explain how to handle nuclear armed adversaries unwilling to disarm. NAE represents more than 45,000 local churches from over 40 different denominations.
This resolution was influenced by the “2 Futures Project,” a group funded by left-leaning philanthropies that advocates complete abolition of nuclear weapons. Although not himself a board member, that project’s chief, Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, was present at the NAE board’s October board meeting to help explain the resolution before the board voted on it. He also had participated in a key planning meeting on the resolution over the summer.
According to NAE President Leith Anderson, the body seeks to fulfill Ronald Reagan’s vision of a nuclear-free future. With the end of the Cold War, Americans no longer worried about nuclear strikes from powerful enemies. Now, as Anderson shared in a recent teleconference, “the most frightening threat these days are rogue nations and terrorists [sic].”
NAE’s “Nuclear Weapons 2011” asserts that “the very existence of nuclear weapons may be a liability rather than an asset.” It hopes that policymakers will preserve the taboo against use of even tactical nuclear weaponry. The document calls for Russia and the U.S. especially to engage in “verified mutual reductions in current nuclear stockpiles.” It urges ratification on a ban against nuclear testing and more safeguards against atomic accidents as well as crackdowns on the spread of nuclear weapons technology and equipment.
In the conference call, NAE Vice President for Government Relations Galen Carey hoped that political leaders would “ensure [nuclear weapons] are not put into the hands of terrorists.” He reiterated the resolution’s call for a reduction of arsenal warheads on alert to avoid an “accidental nuclear exchange.” Carey spoke of gradual nuclear disarmament leading to eventual elimination.
Christians should also “re-examine the doctrine of nuclear deterrence,” the NAE stance urged. The resolution claims: “[M]any knowledgeable observers argue that the mere possession of nuclear weapons decreases rather than increases national security. Continued possession undermines the nonproliferation regime and commitments by the nuclear powers to actively pursue nuclear disarmament.”
In the conference call, NAE board member and General Superintendents of the Wesleyan Church Jo Ann Lyon said: “When we look at nuclear weapons, we see it is devoted to the annihilation of humanity…even for a just cause [sic].” Lyon asked: “Can nuclear weapons be used in just war theory?” Another board member, Florida mega-church pastor Joel Hunter, asserted that nuclear weaponry “guarantee the destruction of the innocent.” He further said: “We want to seek the least destructive way to deal with defense.” Echoing the resolution, Hunter argued: “We are looking to the Lord for security. Stockpiling weapons for our security may be a form of idolatry…You don’t just try to be more powerful according to force.”
The NAE spokesmen thought nuclear armaments run contrary to the biblical command to love enemies. Lyon urged: “We believe that enemies can be reconciled.” Hunter echoed by arguing, “If we fight, we have to on the basis that we can build relationships afterwards.” Lyon, who founded World Hope International, also saw a Promethean hubris in nuclear arsenals. “Nuclear weapons threaten the future,” she complained, “Is it right for nations to amass power of mass destruction, going down into the generations? Or is that something for God?”
“We speak as church leaders, not technical experts,” clarified Carey, “Values…should not be left to technicians alone.”