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NCC Observes 50th Anniversary of H-Bomb Test
in the Pacific, Calls for Global Nuclear Disarmament


Sign "A Moral Appeal for a Safer World Without Nuclear Weapons"

March 1 Statement by Participants in 50th Anniversary of H-Bomb Test on Marshall Islands


March 8, 2004, WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Twice in just over a week, NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar has issued calls for global nuclear disarmament. 


On March 8 in Washington, D.C., he joined Dr. Helen Caldicott of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute, Howard Hallman of Methodists United for Peace with Justice and others in the religious, scientific and medical communities to call for a halt to the post-Cold War nuclear arms race on the grounds that it is immoral and unnecessary. 


Dr. Edgar noted that he had just returned from a 50th anniversary commemoration of Operation Bravo, the March 1, 1954, atmospheric test of the H-Bomb on Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, at which he and other participants asked justice for those still suffering the effects of those tests and urged the United States to lead the world in eliminating weapons of mass destruction.  Pictured: Jim Winkler, Barbara Grace Ripple, Randy Day, Bob Edgar, JoAnn Yoon Fukumoto and Dave Williams in Majuro, Marshall Islands.

Statement About Nuclear Disarmament
Rev. Dr. Robert W. Edgar
General Secretary, National Council of Churches USA
March 8, 2004, Washington, D.C.

Last week I returned from the Marshall Islands, where I witnessed first hand the devastation nuclear weapons can unleash. You may remember that between 1946 and 1958 more than 65 nuclear tests were carried out in the Pacific Islands by the U.S. government. After 50 years the people there continue to live with the physical, emotional and spiritual scars, along with the environmental hazards, that nuclear testing brought.

Death, cancer and other diseases, and dislocation have resulted from this testing. Perhaps we still do not know the full extent of the damage that has been done. However, what we do know is that it is time for global nuclear disarmament to become a reality. It is morally wrong and environmentally detrimental. As people of faith, who care deeply for God’s Creation including the people whom God created to enjoy it and to be faithful stewards over it, we call on our government and the Bush Administration to take leadership in global nuclear disarmament. We must ask ourselves why we continue to construct weapons that have the power to destroy us, rather than build systems and structures that will save lives and help all persons reach the potential for which God created them. I believe that the same expertise and know-how that was used to build weapons of mass destruction can be used to build bridges of hope. If we have the power and the will to create something that could annihilate all of humankind, surely we can summon the will to provide adequate and affordable health care to every American. Surely, we can find ways to support public education and our children. I know that we can find ways to live a more peaceful and harmonious existence. But it must start with us. We must first have the courage to lead the way internationally, knowing that others will follow our lead.

Being the world’s only superpower comes with responsibility. For to whom much is given, much is required. What is required is that we use our status to make the world a better and safer place for generations to come. What is required is that we recognize what we do for the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters, we do for God, as we are taught in Matthew 25:40. What is required is that we take a stand for what is right and just. What is required is that we take a stand so that we no longer live under a cloud of fear that one day the world, and all the people in it, will be destroyed by nuclear weapons. We, at the National Council of Churches, along with others in the faith community, are committed to continue to work tirelessly to make sure the madness of the nuclear arms race ends and instead, peace and justice prevail.


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