Church condemns rush to vote on Trident

The Church of Scotland has long argued the UK should not possess weapons of mass destruction, and condemns the UK Government’s decision to vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons system next week. The Convener of our Church and Society Council, Rev Dr Richard Frazer says now is not the right time to take such a significant decision. He has written to MPs in advance of the debate on Monday July 18th urging them to vote against renewal.

Rt Rev Richard Frazer
Rev Dr Richard Frazer, Convener of the Church and Society Council.

“The Church of Scotland has consistently spoken out against nuclear weapons for more than 30 years. Next Monday, July 18th, MPs will debate and vote on whether or not to renew the four nuclear submarines which constitute Britain’s nuclear deterrent. This announcement comes in the wake of the UK’s vote in favour of leaving the European Union, it comes at a time when the Opposition are embroiled in a leadership challenge and it comes only days after the appointment of a new Prime Minister. At a time when we are rebalancing our relationship with the rest of the world, we do not believe this should be our first action. We are concerned the House of Commons is being rushed into this decision in undue haste with little opportunity for reflection or wider discussion.

Since 1982, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland has deplored the use, through threat or deployment, of nuclear weapons. The scale and indiscriminate nature of the destruction caused by any nuclear weapons system renders it illegal. Nuclear missiles fail to distinguish between civilians and combatants. They wreak widespread, long-term and severe damage on the natural environment. Such weapons are abhorrent and any decision to renew the Trident system must only be taken after deep and mature reflection.

As Christians we are called to be peacemakers and yet ‘peace’ that is kept through the indiscriminate threat of mass destruction could not be further from the peace that Christ calls us to. Over recent turbulent weeks, we have had cause to reflect on the importance of leadership in our political life. One act of profound leadership for the world would be a decision by our country to renounce our dependence on weapons of war that have no moral legitimacy. We should be building peace through strong and courageous leadership and not by commissioning more nuclear weapons. As Christians, we believe that justice, peace, reconciliation and hope can only be established in the world when we are bold enough to be the change we want to see in the world.”

The Church is also endorsing a statement issued in partnership with the Methodist Church, the United Reformed Church and Baptists Union of Great Britain and Quakers of Great Britain through the Joint Public Issues Team.

It describes the proposals to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system as "unwarranted" and "unethical" and calls on people to write to their MPs to make their opposition known.

The statement includes Rt Rev Dr Russell Barr, Moderator of the Church of Scotland, saying "Attempts to sustain peace through the threat of indiscriminate mass destruction could not be further from the peace to which Christ calls us. It is vital that the UK demonstrates the sort of change it wants to see in the world; building peace through strong and courageous leadership and not by commissioning more nuclear weapons."