Every August anniversary of the 1945 U.S. atomic attacks on Japan that ended World War II excites the Religious Left to renewed demands for complete nuclear disarmament by the U.S.
The head of the National Council of Churches has rehashed a statement from the World Council of Churches: “The production and deployment of nuclear weapons, as well as their use, constitute a crime against humanity.” And he added: “Such weapons do not protect us from the enemy; they are the enemy. The very instruments devised to protect us from evil are the very embodiment of evil.”
It is standard fare, of course, to locate evil in inanimate objects rather than in the human hearts that plot to deploy those objects. Traditional Christianity teaches that all are fallen and need redemption. The Religious Left prefers to believe all are essentially good and that sin comes from abstract forces like war or poverty that can be eliminated through international treaties or government programs.
Of course, old Religious Left organs like the National and World Councils of Churches have urged U.S. unilateral disarmament for decades. Their alliance with Soviet strategic interests during the Cold War’s final crucial years accelerated their political irrelevance, already begun by the mass exodus of church members from Mainline denominations unfulfilled by liberal theology.
Of more import now are evangelicals, a mainstay of the coalition supporting U.S. rearmament and resolve during the1980’s. Of course, President Ronald Reagan’s famed “evil empire” speech was to the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), once a bed rock of conservatism. A new generation of squishy evangelical activists is embarrassed by their ancestors and seeks affection from leftist secular cultural elites. NAE is now composing a new statement on nukes. Will it endorse complete U.S. disarmament?
Pushing for de-nuclearizing the U.S. is “Two Futures Project” chief Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, a disciple of famed leftist cleric William Sloane Coffin and former liberal California Democratic Senator Alan Cranston. Although not an NAE board member, Wigg-Stevenson was reportedly part of a small, non-public NAE confab over its impending nuke stance.
This week Wigg-Stevenson reported from Hiroshima for The Huffington Post. “The city is a stark reminder of what happens when we abandon moral standards that have guided us for centuries,” he intoned. He focused on a recent controversy involving the U.S. Air Force’s reputedly shelving a training course citing Christian Just War teaching as a potential justification for nukes after a left-wing church-state group objected. The anti-nuke Religious Left activist shared “profound outrage” that “our tradition would be distorted and misrepresented to justify the use of weapons of mass destruction.” He hoped especially Christian Air Force officers would be protected from such “false teaching.”
Wigg-Stevenson particularly objected to a reputed part of Air Force training that quoted Japanese and German admissions that their regimes would have launched nukes had they got them first. “It means basing our moral standards on the fickle depravity of our earthly enemy, rather than the North Star of God’s goodness,” he complained. “And this is precisely what happened in World War II, with Hiroshima and Nagasaki forming a tragic coda to the escalating practice of civilian bombing initiated by the Nazis.” And he concluded: “The Air Force shouldn’t shy away from holding nuclear warfare up to Christian moral standards. But we should ask what the consequences would be if we actually told the truth about them.”
At least Wigg-Stevenson cites Just War teaching. Most of the Religious Left prefers to ignore it altogether in its dreamy advocacy of an irrelevant pacifism. If the Air Force training did actually rely exclusively on the Germans-and-Japanese-would-have-done-it-first-argument, it should have included broader arguments. No American President would have condemned hundreds of thousands of U.S. military personnel to avoidable death while having a weapon that would decisively end the war. As to the wider moral implications, even had the U.S. unilaterally ended hostilities and left the Japanese militarists in power, millions more, mostly civilians, would have died, as Japan’s imperialist war ruthlessly continued throughout Asia. Millions of Chinese, Indochinese, Thai, Koreans, and Burmese, among many others, including Japanese, are alive today because the U.S. nuclear strikes spared their parents and grandparents needless deaths 66 years ago.
A recent National Council of Churches (NCC) news release cited the 160,000 initial deaths from the atomic blasts at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Horrible enough. But World War II killed 50 million. No Religious Left news releases have asked how those lives might have been spared in what Winston Churchill deemed an avoidable war, if only the democracies had acted with resolve sooner. The last century was stained not only by tens of millions of corpses from two world wars, but also the over 100 million murdered victims of totalitarian regimes. Their murderous designs for global domination were defeated primarily by American power.
How would today’s world look with a denuclearized America? Would it be safer? Would it be freer and more prosperous? Would the potential aggressors and mass murders of tomorrow feel more or less deterred? Or would a world without American military dominance resemble the early 20th century, when numerous regimes, many of them genocidal, raced for military advantage, precipitating the modern world’s worst calamities?
Religious Left dreamers dare not address such pressing questions, preferring the serenity of their own abstract illusions. Fortunately, they are mostly cloistered in un-influential church bureaucracies and academia. More serious thinkers and people of faith across the ideological spectrum who actually guide U.S. policies know that a world of today without U.S. nukes likely would be a disaster.