, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The opposition to nuclear weapons by many Churches is well known and long-standing. What of nuclear energy?

The World Council of Churches calls for “divestment from businesses and financial institutions involved in the production of nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants and related exports, and advocate for the reallocation of government spending from nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants to the development of renewable energy and the redevelopment of communities where nuclear industries are closing; … Urge governments to phase-out nuclear power plants and reform overall energy use to increase energy efficiency and conservation, reduce carbon emissions and toxic waste, and develop renewable energy resources“, (WCC, July 7, 2014)

As Pope Francis recently pointed out, these are ethical, religious, questions. Whether the earth and all that is in it can be destroyed by nuclear energy, waste or weapons is an ethical question. See also: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/catholic-bishops-of-japan-abolish-nuclear-power-immediately/

The nuclear industry “comes to steal, kill, and destroy“, whereas Jesus said that he came so that we “may have life, and may have it abundantly.“(See John 10:10 [1])

Almost one year ago, on the 7th of July 2014, the World Council of Churches published a “Statement towards a Nuclear-free World“. Their founding Chair, Methodist Bishop Oxnam, was one of only a few high-profile vocal opponents to the use of the atomic bomb before the bombing of Nagasaki – in other words in the window of time between the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: “John Foster Dulles and Methodist Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam together urged President Truman to forgo additional use of the new weapon, saying they opposed the bomb’s indiscriminate obliteration of human beings.” [2]
Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church) Jan.7, 1946.Photo by AIHARA,Hidetsugu. (1909-) colored
Urakami Tenshudo (Catholic Church) Jan.7, 1946. Photo by AIHARA,Hidetsugu.
After nuclear weapon was used against Nagasaki Japan in August 1945. The atomic bomb that fell on Nagasaki on August 9, 1945 detonated in Urakami only 500 m (1640 ft) from the cathedral, completely destroying it. As the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15) was near, Mass was held on the day and was well attended. The resultant collapse and heat-wave cindered and buried all those present in the Cathedral.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urakami_Cathedral

What is the World Council of Churches?The WCC is a fellowship of 345 member churches who together represent more than half a billion Christians around the world.https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches
WCC member churches include most of the Orthodox Churches; numerous Protestant churches, including the Anglican Communion, some Baptists, many Lutheran, Methodist, and Presbyterian and other Reformed, a sampling of united and independent churches, and some Pentecostal churches; and some Old Catholic Churches.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Council_of_Churches
Thus, it includes the Church of England, Church of Scotland, Church of Ireland, United Church of Canada, as well as what are often called “Mainstream” protestant churches in North America. See list here: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/member-churches
While the Roman Catholic Church is not a member of the World Council of Churches, it has close ties: https://www.oikoumene.org/en/church-families/about-us/faq#is-the-roman-catholic-church-a-member-
Moorside Sheep looking toward Sellafield Streetview
Sheep near proposed UK government subsidized Moorside Nuclear Reactors Await Help from the Church of England
Jesus and the lambs, Good Shepherd
Excerpts regarding nuclear energy from the World Council of Churches “Statement towards a Nuclear-free World” July 7, 2014 (Emphasis added). As can be seen, the Pope is not alone in his recently expressed, and largely ignored, concerns about nuclear energy and nuclear waste:

Military and civilian uses of nuclear technology both produce large quantities of poisonous materials that do not exist in nature and are among the world’s worst forms of environmental contamination. Some of the by-products pose a threat to living things for millions of years.[vi] No known options for long-term storage or disposal of nuclear waste are capable of isolating nuclear waste from the environ­ment for the timeframe of its inherent hazards.[vii]

By fuelling our economies with nuclear power and protecting ourselves with nuclear weapons, we are poisoning the earth and generating risks for ourselves, our descendants and other living things.

Nuclear radiation is a poison that cannot be seen, smelled or tasted. Its health effects are severe and multi-generational. Isotopes released by nuclear power plants may contaminate the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we eat. They are radioactively and chemically toxic to the human body.

The effects of ionizing radiation are observable early in a nuclear disaster in the psychological and social traumas that tear at families and communities. With time, increased risks of a variety of cancers also emerge and permanent genetic damage becomes apparent.

The use of the term “safe” for the nuclear industry has proven to be unsupportable. Serious accidents that were judged to be highly unlikely have occurred repeatedly.[viii] The grave consequences of such accidents have been routinely ignored or dismissed by the governments and corporations involved.

Setting “acceptable” levels for exposure to the ionizing radiation and chemical toxins released during nuclear accidents and nuclear tests has proved to be misleading and dangerous. After Chernobyl, Fukushima and other accidents, the “acceptable” level of contamination was simply raised in order to minimize the perceived seriousness of the event and to deflect public criticism

Stewardship of creation and management of risks

Christians are called to share in the responsibility to safeguard God’s creation and protect the sanctity of life. Responsible and inclusive stewardship of energy today must take greater account of the common good, the integrity of creation and humanity’s future. Energy sources must be safe, efficient and renewable. Energy conservation must be an integral part of energy use. Present uses must not create serious problems for the future. Today’s energy must be suitable, in effect, to serve as tomorrow’s energy as well.

Despite decades of scrutiny, nuclear energy has not met such requirements. It is not renewable and not based on a sustainable resource. Carbon is emitted throughout the nuclear fuel chain – from mining, processing, transportation, construction and operations to decommissioning and the perpetual manage­ment of toxic nuclear waste. Claims that nuclear energy is clean and environmentally-friendly appear to ignore its overall impact, its consequences and its alternatives.

Nuclear energy has also proved to be unaffordable, particularly when government subsidies and the transfer of liability to citizens are included, and the incalculable costs of long-term nuclear waste management are acknowledged. A full reckoning of affordability must also include both direct and indirect subsidies, liabilities in case of disaster, and safe decommissioning. Some of these costs are hidden; some continue indefinitely. Compared to other energy sources, nuclear plants also require heavy capital investment.[xiv] Large governmental subsidies for nuclear power typically far surpass government support for renewable energy technologies.[xv]
Nuclear energy use is laden with risks which are difficult to manage. The probability of a nuclear disaster may be relatively low but the consequences of a disaster range from very high to unthinkable. The risk, therefore, is high.

Many governments have made the responsible decision to avoid such risks entirely. Following the Fukushima disaster, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Mexico and Taiwan shut down, stopped building or pledged to eventually phase-out nuclear power plants. Other states renewed their resolve to rely on non-nuclear energy sources and to reject nuclear armaments.

Governments that subsidize nuclear power plants are simultaneously accepting risks and exposing their publics to those risks. They use public monies to subsidize an industry which private capital shuns because of its inherent risks. In addition to multi-billion-dollar subsidies, governments grant the industry exemptions from liability in case of a nuclear accident or disaster. The total economic loss from the Fukushima disaster, for example, is estimated to be US$250-500 billion.[xvii]
Nuclear exodus as pilgrimage of justice and peace

God is a generous Creator, calling life into being from atoms and molecules and endowing creation with life in abundance. To split the atom into deadly, unnatural elements already gives cause for serious ethical and theological reflection. To use the energy of the atom in ways that threaten and destroy life is a sinful misuse of God’s creation.

We are called to live in ways that protect life instead of putting it at risk – neither living fearfully, defended by nuclear weapons, nor living wastefully, dependent on nuclear energy. We are invited to build communities and economies in harmony with God’s manifold gifts and promises of life.
God sets before us life and death, blessings and curses. God implores us, “Now choose life”, so that we and our children may live (Deuteronomy 30). The Busan Assembly was reminded that God’s “now” is imminent, is eschatological time, a time of metanoia and full of grace. As churches we must educate ourselves to choose life by turning from the blinding flash of nuclear warheads and the deadly glow of nuclear reactors to healthy sources of energy in the natural world within which we have our being – sun, wind, water and geo-thermal energy. This is the path of exodus from nuclear and other dangers.

“We have enjoyed the sweetness of plentiful energy through nuclear energy; now we must learn the bitterness of closing nuclear reactors and dealing with radioactive waste,” said a Korean Christian declaration of faith prior to the Busan Assembly. “We urgently proclaim the need not for the security of the status quo of nuclear-armed states but for the securing of life for all humanity and creation.”[xviii]
Practice and promote divestment from businesses and financial institutions involved in the production of nuclear weapons or nuclear power plants and related exports, and advocate for the reallocation of government spending from nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants to the development of renewable energy and the redevelopment of communities where nuclear industries are closing;
Urge governments to phase-out nuclear power plants and reform overall energy use to increase energy efficiency and conservation, reduce carbon emissions and toxic waste, and develop renewable energy resources;…https://www.oikoumene.org/en/resources/documents/central-committee/geneva-2014/statement-towards-a-nuclear-free-world

[1] Jesus said: “The thief only comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.” John 10:10 (World English Bible, WEB) Whereas this is spiritual in meaning, there is still nothing in the Bible which gives humans the right to kill the planet and all that is in it. Furthermore it was used literally on p. 8 of “Who is my neighbour? A Letter from the House of Bishops to the People and Parishes of the Church of England for the General Election 2015https://churchofengland.org/media/2170230/whoismyneighbour-pages.pdf

Furthermore, Jesus healed the sick:
When a woman was brought to him who had been ill for a long time, he spoke of her as “this woman … whom Satan hath bound, lo, those eighteen years.’ Satan! As far as I can understand Jesus’ attitude, but in the words he spoke and the healing miracles he so gloriously wrought, he always regarded disease as part of the kingdom of evil, and with all his powers he fought it and instructed his followers to do the same.
Now in the same way there is an intentional purpose of God for everyone’s life; but because of human folly and sin, because man’s free will creates circumstances of evil that cut across God’s plans, because our oneness with the great human family means that the evil among other members of it may create circumstances which disturb God’s intention for us, there is a will within the will of God, or what I call “the circumstantial will of God’ and in the doing of that the soul can find peace, the mind can find poise, and the will can be so expressed that ultimately the original plan of God is brought to successful fruition./ I think there are two parts to the circumstantial will of God – one in the natural realm and the other in the spiritual.“, from Leslie Weatherhead “The Will of God“.

[2] “Second-Guessing Hiroshima?” July 29, 1998
By Leo Maley III and Uday Mohan History News Service

70 Years is Enough Campaign:  Nuclear Energy is Nuclear War Everyday