Canadian Churches Press Government on Nuclear Arms

Canadian Churches Press Government on Nuclear Arms

The Christian Reformed Church in North America is one of many churches asking the Canadian government to sign on to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). A letter, signed by 21 church leaders including Canadian Ministries Director Darren Roorda, was sent by the Canadian Council of Churches, of which the CRC is a member.

Addressed to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the letter expressed concern that the historic Non-Proliferation Treaty of nuclear weapons has not been effective enough in eliminating them. That treaty, signed by world powers including Russia and the United States, came into effect in 1970.

In 2006 the synod of the CRC expressed its support for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, with the ultimate goal of multilateral nuclear disarmament, an echo of recommendations also made to Synod 1982. (Acts of Synod 2006, p. 674) The recommendations in 2006 came from a study committee on War and Peace.

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While that report was primarily focused on the United States, it noted the level and nature of engagement in foreign policy by faith communities is much different in Canada. “Increased resources for development and peace building are partly a result of advocacy by faith-based organizations, who continue to push for Canada to do more in this area,” it noted.

As one of the letter’s signatories, the CRC is asking Canada to sign on to and be at the forefront of the new TPNW, adopted at the United Nations in July 2017. Currently 71 countries have signed the legally binding instrument that would see a total prohibition of possessing nuclear weapons.

“We wish to express our profound concern about Canada’s resistance to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” the letter stated. “We submit that Canada’s signing of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons would be a valuable and essential step in supporting collective global action to eliminate nuclear weapons.”

Mike Hogeterp, director of the CRC's Centre for Public Dialogue in Canada, said that the Canadian Council process for the development of a letter like this is always collaborative. "We appreciate that as a strength of Canadian ecumenism," he said. In recommending the CRC sign the letter, he noted that the statement is in line with synod's work in 2006. "At that time, the CRC essentially said that the widespread use of nuclear weapons would constitute an unjust war."

Other denominational leaders signing on to the letter from the Canadian Council include those from Anglican, Roman Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Mennonite, and Quaker traditions.

Canada possesses no nuclear weapons.

About the Author

Gayla Postma is news editor for The Banner.

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Comments

This proposed TPNW is quite a different thing from the currently existing Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The latter does not seek nuclear disarmament by countries already possessing them, but the former does.

Were I Canadian, I would not want Canada to become a member of the nuclear club (develop nuclear weapons).  It doing so wouldn't deter nuclear war or do much of anything that would be helpful to Canada or the rest of the world.

On the other hand, at least for the foreseeable future, I can't imagine that the world wouldn't be a more dangerous place if the US eliminated its nuclear weapons, even if under an international agreement where all other countries agreed to do the same.  At present, enforcement of such an agreement can't be done, which means the US would lose, and deprive other nations in the world, of the deterrence effect it currently provides because it possesses a formidable nuclear force.

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