Days before one of the biggest celebrations in the Christian calendar, Scotland’s church leaders have launched an Easter message with a significant challenge to all political parties on the issue of Trident.
In a joint open letter Scottish clergy are demanding that the billions of pounds spent on nuclear weapons be used instead to help the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
With a general election looming, they also urge voters to make it clear to candidates of all parties that Scotland “should choose life over death and the alleviation of poverty over the replacement of Trident”.
The leaders say the possession of nuclear weapons is “unjust and wrong” – and that violence “can be expressed in threat as well as in deed”.
They believe that tackling injustice, poverty and inequality would lead to a safer world for all, but concede that this cannot be achieved with “weapons of war”.
Among the signatories of the letter are Right Reverend Bill Hewitt, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, and Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Archdiocese St Andrews and Edinburgh.
The call could not be more poignant, coming days before Easter, a time where Christians of all traditions celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
And the leaders say the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead “demonstrates that security comes from faith in the vulnerability of God in Christ and not in any human creation”.
The Church of Scotland and others in the Christian family have long campaigned against nuclear weapons, making a clear case that they have no useful purpose for humanity.
Notes to news desks:
A copy of the letter is pasted below.
Letter from Scottish Church leaders:
An Easter message from Church Leaders in Scotland
At Easter, Christians of all traditions express their shared belief that God so loved the world that he sent his son Jesus Christ to suffer and die as a man. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead demonstrates that security comes from faith in the vulnerability of God in Christ and not in any human creation.
Christian moral reasoning leads us away from violence towards loving relationships with others. Violence is expressed in threat as well as in deed. The indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons makes it impossible to justify them as weapons of war as their effect cannot be considered as either limited or proportionate. Therefore, the very possession of nuclear weapons is unjust and thus wrong. Churches have often expressed this concern.
Christ came for the whole world and the security of the whole world is Christ’s concern. Nuclear weapons by their very existence undermine the security of the whole world and are inconsistent with the traditional theories of just war. We believe that tackling injustice, poverty and inequality would lead to a safer world for all. At a political level that transformation means choosing to spend money on changing the lives of the poor and oppressed and not on nuclear weapons.
All of us have a political choice in the next few weeks. We call upon all people of goodwill to make it clear to candidates of all parties that we should choose life over death and the alleviation of poverty over the replacement of Trident.”
The Most Revd David Chillingworth
Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church
The Right Rev William Hewitt
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland
Rev John Ll Humphreys
Moderator, The National Synod of Scotland, United Reformed Church
Rev Martin C Keane
Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Free Church of Scotland
Rev Malcolm T. Muir
Chair of Congregational Federation in Scotland
Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien
Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Archdiocese St Andrews and Edinburgh, President of the Roman Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Scotland
Religious Society of Friends
Rev Lily P. Twist
Chair, Methodist Church Scotland District
 “Authentic peace is characterised by the transformation of relationships emanating from the ongoing presence of God in the world”
Submission to the Defence Committee in relation to the inquiry into the White Paper “The Future of the UK’s Strategic Nuclear Deterrent” by the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Methodist Church and the United Reformed Church
Pope Benedict XVI has said, “The foundations of authentic peace rest on the truth about God and man”
Pope Benedict XVI for the World Day of Peace, January 1, 2006