June 21, 2000
On June 21, 2000, religious and military leaders issued a call through Washington National Cathedral for the elimination of nuclear weapons. The Call by Military and Religious Leaders, endorsed by 18 retired flag-rank military officials and 21 heads of America’s pre-eminent religious denominations and organizations, states: “National security imperatives and ethical demands have converged to bring us to the necessity of outlawing and prohibiting nuclear weapons worldwide.”
Rev. Baxter hosted the press conference, declaring: “Nuclear disarmament is the ultimate human rights issue. People have a right to know that more than a decade after the Cold War ended, tens of thousands of nuclear weapons still exist with the power to destroy God’s creation. We also have a right and responsibility to demand an end to this threat of annihilation.”
Oral statements were also made by Bishop William Oden, President of the Council of Bishops of the United Methodist Church; Dr. Muzzamil Siddiqi, President of the Islamic Society of North America; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Admiral Stansfield Turner, USN (Ret.), former Director of Central Intelligence and former Commander in Chief, Allied Southern Command Europe, and General Chuck Horner, Commander of Allied Air Forces in the Gulf War and former Commander in Chief, U.S. Space Command.
Gen. Horner, who was responsible for America’s early warning system for detecting nuclear attacks, remarked: “This issue is one confronting our vital national interests from a security and moral point of view. It is one requiring the involvement of both military professionals and religious leaders.”
The press conference was followed by an interfaith prayer service at the Cathedral with a moving sermon by Chaplain (Major General) Kermit D. Johnson, USA (Ret.). Gen. Horner and Adm. Turner served as litanists, and Christian, Jewish, and Muslim readers read from the Bible, Torah, and
The NR/DI entered its third, educational phase in the summer of 2000. It is now distributing educational materials to congregations, providing knowledgeable speakers, and serving as a resource for local leaders. This educational project is a priority for GSI staff: Mr. Stevenson is working with the NR/DI to coordinate the participation of national and local religious leadership.
On January 1, 2001, the NR/DI, with the support and endorsement of the National Cathedral, will move to the nearby Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy (CCTPP) in January 2001. Its distinguished board, which includes Bishop Walter Sullivan, head of Pax Christi, is committed to seeing the NR/DI come to full fruition. GSI will continue to serve as one of the principals on the NR/DI steering committee.