The war in Ukraine has impacted the views of one in four evangelical leaders on nuclear weapons, according to the March/April Evangelical Leaders Survey. Nearly three in four leaders say their thinking on nuclear weapons has not been impacted, with most indicating that they were already deeply concerned about the profound risk to human life posed by nuclear weapons.
“Evangelicals are strongly pro-life, and nuclear weapons merit special attention due to their unique destructive capacity and threat to civilian populations,” said Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE). “It is difficult even to comprehend the danger of placing so much destructive power in the hands of one human being.”
Michael Henderson, vice president for national ministries with Converge Worldwide, commented, “In the hand of undisciplined leaders, it could mean a third world war.” Greg Johnson, president of Standing Together, added, “As I heard a retired general say, ‘We are only one crazy dictator away from a nuclear bomb being exploded.’”
For Deborah Pegues, CEO of The Pegues Group, the nuclear threat has become more tangible, but it has not overwhelmed her trust in God. “The idea of a nuclear bomb impacting me directly was a remote possibility in my mind; the imminence of it is a reminder to be anxious for nothing,” she said.
The majority of leaders indicated that while their views have not changed, Ukraine has highlighted their concerns. Randall Bach, president of Open Bible Churches, said, “Nothing about Ukraine has altered my views regarding the hideousness of nuclear weapons or my awareness of how easily world situations can become slippery slopes. The vividness of how quickly missteps could lead to the use of potential nuclear weapons is certainly being demonstrated in Ukraine.”
Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC), said, “The crisis in Ukraine serves as a critical reminder of the real dangers of nuclear proliferation and its potential devastating impacts on humanity and the planet. This challenge cannot remain unaddressed by followers of the Prince of Peace.”
In 2011, the NAE adopted a resolution on nuclear weapons. Building on biblical mandates to respect the dignity and sanctity of human life; restrain evil and protect freedom and security; promote true peace and reconciliation; and respect creaturely and generational limits, with pastoral concern for promoting trust in God and love of enemies, the resolution calls for:
- Re-examining the moral and ethical basis for the doctrine of nuclear deterrence;
- Maintaining the taboo against nuclear use;
- Achieving verified mutual reductions in current nuclear stockpiles;
- Acknowledging and ratifying the de facto ban on new nuclear testing;
- Increasing safeguards against accidental use;
- Focusing attention on resolving regional conflicts;
- Preventing the unauthorized spread of fissile material; and
- Continuing dialogue on the effects of possession and threatened use of nuclear weapons.
“Evangelical leaders have a biblical view of human depravity and a realistic assessment of the threats posed by nuclear weapons,” Kim said. “We are also Easter people who believe that Jesus Christ by his death and resurrection has won the decisive victory over sin and death. We pray and work for peace because we follow the Prince of Peace.”
The Evangelical Leaders Survey is a monthly poll of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Evangelicals. They include the CEOs of denominations and representatives of a broad array of evangelical organizations including missions, universities, publishers and churches.