Evangelical leaders overwhelmingly (87 percent) support strengthening international treaties that limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The remaining 13 percent of evangelical leaders surveyed say the treaties should “stay about the same.” None believe that international treaties limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons should be weakened, according to the September Evangelical Leaders Survey.
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), said, “Evangelicals believe the Bible, and the Bible calls us to seek peace. Limiting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and praying for reductions in nuclear weapons is rooted in the peace-priority of Scripture and makes common sense.”
Other evangelical leaders expressed their support for stronger antiproliferation treaties based on a commitment to the sanctity of life. Colin Watson, director of ministries and administration for the Christian Reformed Church of North America, said, “I believe that strengthening treaties will reduce the proliferation of nuclear weapons, and therefore reduce the possibility of intentional or accidental detonations. This position is consistent with my views on the sanctity of human life.”
Alan Cureton, president of University of Northwestern – St. Paul, asked, “How many nuclear weapons do we need? The general American population is aware that the United States has a stock pile of 3,800 active nuclear warheads. Can you imagine the impact upon God’s creation if all of them were utilized? Followers of Christ professing a pro-life stance must unite their voices to speak against the proliferation of nuclear weapons with the same intensity as they do with abortion.”
At the same time, many leaders noted that to be effective, treaties must be backed up by both moral authority and economic or military pressure.
“Treaties are a great concept, if they are honored. When there is little to no prospect of enforcing treaties then the nations most likely to want to join the nuclear weapon ‘club’ are also the most likely to do so,” said Randall Bach, president of Open Bible Churches. “Only nuclear treaties that are backed by sufficient world moral authority and/or force seem to be heeded. A proliferation of proliferation treaties seems meaningless if not connected with sufficient authority or incentive causing the signatories to honor them.”
In 2011, the board of the National Association of Evangelicals adopted a resolution on nuclear weapons addressing biblical, pastoral and policy issues raised by nuclear weapons. It states, “With their unique destructive potential, nuclear weapons profoundly threaten the lives and prosperity of future generations, and of all God’s creatures.” The resolution also warns that “nuclear weapons may encourage human hubris and lead to an overreaching power beyond God’s will for any fallen human government to wield.”
NAE President Leith Anderson and Timothy Broglio, Roman Catholic Archbishop for the Military Services USA, wrote a letter asking the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees to include language supporting the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) with Russia in the National Defense Authorization Act.
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.