Friday, 07 August 2020

Faiths united for an end to nuclear weapons

Around 200 people of different faiths from across the nation gathered online to pray for lasting peace, 75 years to the day after a single nuclear weapon wreaked mass destruction on the city of Hiroshima.

The Uniting Church co-hosted the virtual interfaith service in partnership with the Nobel Peace Prize-winning International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) to remember the devastation and lives lost in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer welcomed all those gathered in the spirit of interfaith friendship and spoke about the Uniting Church commitment to work for a world free from nuclear weapons.

“Reliance upon nuclear weapons to attain peace and security represents a willingness to indiscriminately kill millions of civilians, and we believe it is contrary to God’s creative will for the world,” Dr Palmer said.

“We continue to pray that those who seek security in nuclear weapons may discover that genuine security can only be achieved through non-violent means and active efforts to live at peace with one another.”

Participating from Fiji, Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary Rev. James Bhagwan spoke about the horrifying impacts and the ongoing legacy of nuclear testing across the Pacific.

Tests carried out in locations across the Pacific by the US, the UK and France, equivalent to the TNT used in more than 9000 Hiroshima bombs, explained Rev. Bhagwan, and have left people displaced from their homes, physically scarred, and battling effects of ongoing radiation exposure.

“Who controls nuclear weapons is of no consequence, they are no good for the Pacific and no good for the world.” said Rev. Bhagwan.

“We must end any possibility of nuclear war. There must be no chance of even one weapon being detonated again.  We pray for justice and reparation for the people of the Pacific for its forced role in nuclear testing.”

Read more in this piece written by Rev. Bhagwan.

Director of ICAN Australia Gem Romuld spoke about ICAN's work towards nuclear disarmament and the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted in 2017.

This week the Uniting Church was one of 58 faith organisations calling on Australia to sign and ratify the Treaty. As of 6 August 2020, only seven more countries need to ratify the Treaty for it to come into force.

“The continuation of these weapons is not inevitable. Every last one can be dismantled,” said Ms Romuld.

“The Treaty is the most promising vehicle to change attitudes and shift politics on this issue. It is a major task (But) we’ve got hope. A clear directed hope, with a tool box, a movement and a plan. I call this 'hope with teeth'. So please get involved.”

Six different faith representatives shared prayers from Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Baha’i and Muslim traditions.

Singer Leigh Newton performed the moving song “My Name is George Zabelka" by Peter Kearney about the Catholic priest who blessed the pilots flying the plane which dropped the Hiroshima bomb.

In finishing Dr Sue Wareham, ICAN Board Member, said that despite trillions of dollars of investment, not another single nuclear weapon has been used again in warfare and it must stay that way.

“We know these weapons are immoral, illegitimate, and with the Treaty in place, they will be illegal.  There is no place for them in human society and that is the message we need to get to our Government and all Governments that are a part of this problem until this evil is finally overcome.”

Watch a replay of the service on the Uniting Church in Australia Facebook page.

Find out more about the campaign to ban nuclear weapons and get involved:

Read the Open Letter from Faith Groups to Australian political leaders. 

Read other Hiroshima Day reflections published in Crosslight.  

Share the prayer shared by UCA President Dr Deidre Palmer:

Creator God,

You have created us to live in community with one another.

You have called us to love each other and to live in peace and harmony.

 Forgive us when we use our creative powers and our resources to wage war.

We pray for all who are the victims of war.

Particularly today, we remember those who perished in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. We mourn those who died, and those who suffered a living hell from the terrible impacts of nuclear weapons.

 Christ Jesus, you came among us as the Prince of Peace, and we hear your words again today: “Peace be with you”

Forgive us when we reject peace, and prefer to generate hatred and suspicion of those who are different, rather than nurturing love and acceptance. Empower us to shape communities based on respect, hospitality, and love for our neighbor.

 We pray for all those who work for peace.

We pray for the International Campaign against Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) – sustain this inspired international movement, that works to eliminate nuclear weapons from the face of the earth.

As we gather this day, may your Holy Spirit give us courage and wisdom as we work for a world of peace with justice, and social and economic systems that promote the flourishing of all people, and the healing of your earth.