As is their custom, the World Council of Churches (WCC) has issued a statement welcoming the agreement between the USA and Russia to cut their stockpile of nuclear weapons.
We urge them to stand side by side in that shared responsibility and make urgent and unambiguous progress together. In fact, we believe that by doing so they will gradually gain the moral authority needed to encourage other states in eliminating these weapons of mass destruction. http://www.oikoumene.org/?id=6928
Well, of course, who wouldn’t welcome the agreement? It’s pragmatic international politics and, on that level, let’s hope for more of it. The churches, and all people who value their lives and life in general, should encourage it.
But is the role of the World Council of Churches simply to support pragmatic political approaches to which everyone will sign up? Who takes this opportunity to say clearly, unambiguously and loudly that nuclear weapons are obscene and an offence to God? Who reminds Russia and the USA that that they have conveniently left themselves with enough nuclear weapons to destroy each other and the rest of us with plenty left over to do it all over again, without the cost of keeping the surplus stockpile safe and in order? Why should the WCC do little more than pat them on the back?
My former colleagues in the WCC know well that I have problems with this kind of statement. Inoffensive statements may win friends in high places but it has always seemed to me that the gospel is more about pulling the powerful off their thrones than encouraging them to think more highly of themselves than they should.
I want a WCC that isn’t afraid to offend by offering a radical vision in its statements that reflect a faith that should turn the world upside down – or perhaps the right way up.