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Nuclear weapons 'must be removed from the face of the earth,'
NCC General Secretary Kinnamon tells New York rallies

See Jim Luce's coverage of the rally in Daily Kos.

New York, May 2, 2010 -- On the eve of the United Nations historic review conference of parties to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons treaty, the General Secretary of the National Council of Churches told gatherings in New York's Times Square and at the Church Center for the UN that nuclear weapons "are a crime against humanity" and must be removed from the face of the earth.

The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, standing with other peace activists in a bustling Times Square hours after the area had been closed following a failed attempt to explode a car bomb, addressed his remarks to "lovers of peace."

Quoting a resolution enacted by the General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service in Minneapolis last November, Kinnamon said, "The time has arrived to eliminate all of these weapons before they are used to eliminate all of us.  Be it therefore resolved that the National Council of Churches hereby recommits itself to the total worldwide eradication of nuclear weapons.”

The Sunday afternoon rally in Times Square was attended by an estimated 15,000 people. Participants included the Hibaukusha, survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, including Kimura Hisako, a survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.

In addition to Kinnamon, other speakers included Mayor Akiba of Hiroshima and Mayor Taue of Nagasaki; Nadine Padilla, activist addressing uranium mining in Native American communities; Raed Jarrar, Iraqi blogger and political analyst; Maryam Shansab, Afghan-American activist; Pierre Djédji Amondji, Governor of the district of Abidjan in Ivory Coast; Kristin Blom, Campaigns Manager, International Confederation of Trade Unionists; and performances by The Recipe, spoken word duo from Kansas City, Mo.; Stephan Said, Iraqi-American musician known for his anti-war song, “The Bell;” and Emma’s Revolution, known for their songs of peace.

Kinnamon described the National Council of Churches as a diverse community that doesn't always agree on issues.

"But on this we do agree: Nuclear weapons are a threat to the human future," Kinnamon declared. "They siphon off resources that could have been used to promote true security through economic and cultural development. If they ever played a stabilizing role in the balance of power, they surely do so no longer in this post-Cold War world."

In his remarks to the Interfaith Convocation at the Church Center for the UN, Kinnamon cited three historic statements by the World Council of Churches and the National Council of Churches in the nuclear age.

"The first comes from the World Council of Churches’ first assembly, just three years after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki," he said.  It is only eight words, but I wish these words could be chiseled above the door of every church: 'War is contrary to the will of God.'  For much of its 2000 year history, the Christian church has justified violence against other children of God by claiming that such violence was carried out in God’s name!  But in the aftermath of the bombings in Japan, this lie became even more monstrous, and Christians (some of them, at least) were ready to affirm that at the heart of the universe is a Spirit of peace.  'War is contrary -- always -- to the will of God.'"

The second statement, also from the WCC, was 17 words long, Kinnamon said: “The production and deployment of nuclear weapons, as well as their use, constitute a crime against humanity.” 

"Such weapons," Kinnamon said, "do not protect us from the enemy; they are the enemy.  They do not prevent evil; they are evil in its most devastating form."

The third statement was 2009 resolution of the NCC/CWS General Assembly calling for the worldwide eradication of nuclear weapons.

"I am thankful for these statements, even proud of them," Kinnamon told the convocation. "But all of us know that nuclear weapons are not a Christian problem or a Muslim problem or a Jewish problem or a Hindu problem or a Buddhist problem or a Native Religions problem or a Shinto problem or a Unitarian Universalist problem. They are a human problem!  That’s why it is fitting that, on the eve of the review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, we gather across the street from the United Nations as an interfaith community to say, 'Stop this insanity!'  We who gather here are remarkably diverse; but together, as one community, we long for the day when nuclear weapons are abolished from the face of this good earth."

Click here for the full text of Kinnamon's remarks to the Times Square rally.

Click here for the full text of Kinnamon's remarks to the Interfaith Convocation.

NCC News contact:  Philip E. Jenks, 212-870-2228 (office), 646-853-4212 (cell),