In a letter to The Times, the Bishop of Chelmsford and Archbishop of Wales along with five other prominent Christian leaders have called on the government to cancel the Trident missile programme.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen Cottrell of Chelmsford and the Most Rev. Barry Morgan of Wales were joined in the 20 Sept 2014 letter by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Liverpool, the Most Rev. Malcolm McMahon; the President of the Methodist Conference, the Rev. Kenneth Howcroft; the General Secretary of the United Reformed Church, the Rev. John Proctor; the Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Church and Society Council, the Rev. Sally Foster-Fulton; and Juliet Prager, Deputy Recording Clerk of the Quakers in Britain.
The sevens wrote they could not accept the fact that the UK’s security depended upon the threat of a nuclear counterstrike that could kill millions. Introduced in 1994 the Trident programme consists of four nuclear submarines based at the Clyde Naval Base with one submarine always on patrol at sea. The 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review stated each ship would be armed with up to eight Vanguard missiles carrying 40 warheads. The Strategic Review noted Trident was designed to provide “the minimum effective nuclear deterrent as the ultimate means to deter the most extreme threat.”
The Scottish Nationalist Party, the Greens, progressive political parties, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament and some church groups have long sought cancellation of the program. The SNP vowed to kick Trident out of Scotland should they succeed in their quest to break up the union.
A Rethink Trident project also has been launched in The Guardian that calls for the cancellation of the programme. Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi and one of the organizers of the Rethink campaign said that Christians should now to take firm action on the cancellation of Trident and make the issue of the abolition of nuclear weapons key to discussion on security in the run-up to the General Election.
The letter to The Times from the church campaigners argued that if the Trident programme were cancelled, the funds could be spent on welfare, health and education programmes. However Britain’s NATO treaty commitments would require any funds saved from cancelling Trident be spent on conventional armed forces.
This article first appeared in The Church of England Newspaper