In a teleconference today, Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), called for a vote on the New START treaty’s ratification.  Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, also joined the call, which was sponsored by the Two Futures Project, a movement of American Christians for the abolition of nuclear weapons.

“Evangelicals strongly believe in the sanctity of life,” Anderson said. “While we hold a variety of views on the best way to prevent a nuclear war, we are united in the fervent prayer that the nuclear weapons currently in existence will never be used. Even a ‘limited’ nuclear exchange would wreak unprecedented havoc on the world, with unimaginable consequences in which no nation could hold to emerge victorious.”

The New START treaty builds on the success of the START I treaty, which was originally signed by President George H.W. Bush and which expired in December 2009. Ratification of the New START will give the United States new rights to inspect Russian nuclear weapons facilities and will reduce the number of Russian nuclear warheads by 30 percent.

“While the world has on a number of occasions come perilously close to both accidental and intentional nuclear attack, there is little doubt that the series of arms control agreements with Russia have contributed to a reduction in the risk of nuclear disaster,” Anderson said.

The NAE has long expressed concern about the potential impact of nuclear conflict and support for well conceived arms control initiatives.  In 1977, the NAE discussed “the lurking danger of a global holocaust.”[1] In 1982, the NAE articulated its deep concern about the threat of a nuclear holocaust and urged national leaders to “rededicate their efforts to obtain a meaningful arms control agreement that will scale down the nuclear arms race.”[2] In 1986, the NAE commissioned a major program on Peace, Freedom and Security Studies, which responded in part to President Reagan’s vision of establishing a strong national defense and negotiating arms control agreements that would ultimately render nuclear weapons obsolete.[3]

“As I travel around the country, I see ‘Support Our Troops’ signs everywhere. Despite political conflicts on many issues, our nation’s security has always been a unifying issue that draws Americans together across party lines,” Anderson said.  “I urge all Senators to set aside any partisan consideration and join their colleagues – both Republicans and Democrats – in swift action on the New START treaty.”

Hubbard agreed. “The new Treaty will make our nation and world safer by reducing nuclear weapons in a verifiable way.  For the safety of our nation and world, we urge the Senate to take up the New START Treaty without delay.”

[1] Use of Force 1977, National Association of Evangelicals.
[2] Nuclear Holocaust 1982, National Association of Evangelicals.
[3] Peace, Freedom and Security Studies 1986, National Association of Evangelicals.