Monday, July 6, 2009

A Nuclear Free World: What Is the Religious Community Doing?

It's exciting and encouraging to read in the NY Times that President Obama is calling for a "nuclear-free world" and is visiting Moscow to negotiate a reduction in nuclear arms. Can I hear a hallelueiah?

To support this effort and to make sure that a nuclear free world becomes a reality, Roger Eaton, a local peace activist, has started a group called the Los Angeles Area Nuclear Disarmament Coalition ( This group has launched a campaign called "Never Again" and is calling on religious leaders to preach and speak out against nuclear weapons on August 9, "Hiroshima Day."

Seems like a no-brainer. Why wouldn't religious leaders speak out against weapons of mass murder and destruction?

Yet so many churches are as silent as the grave when it comes to this issue. How do we wake them up?

One way is to become noodges! Thanks to the noodging of LAANDC, the South Coast Interfaith Council and Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace are urging religious leaders to take part in the "Never Again" campaign. If you or your religious group is doing something around this issue, please let me know so I can spread the word and encourage others to do likewise.

LAANDC is also involved in the Mayors for Peace campaign, a nation-wide effort to engage political leaders at the local level. So far, they have persuaded the city of Long Beach to sign onto this campaign and are working to persuade LA to do likewise.

Yesterday (Sunday) I attended a planning meeting at Roger's home in which eight or nine people took part, including Leland Stewart (the veteran interfaith leader and founder of "Unity-and-Diversity World Council" -- see We discussed an anti-nuke event being planned for August 9. As Roger explains: "There will be three parts to the event: first a solemn commemoration of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings probably at a Buddhist Temple in the downtown area. Then a silent sidewalk march to Pershing Square where there will be a rally and at least two speeches for nuclear disarmament. We are thinking an Iranian Muslim Religious Scholar, and a Jewish Rabbi, perhaps also Iranian."

More details will appear on this blog as this promising event unfolds.

The "Never Again" campaign will be part of a call to action at ICUJP's event on Monday, July 20. This event will feature two outstanding speakers, veteran civil rights activist Rev. James Lawson and influential theologian John Cobb who will discuss the topic of "War, Violence and Religion." They will also address questions such as: Is war and violence justified by any of our Religious/Spiritual traditions when done in the service of combating oppression, tyranny, injustice or in self defense? There will also be an opportunity for Q and A. For more info, see

I also attended a meeting of the local chapter of the Parliament of World Religions ( We are planning an event at USC in early October around the time of Gandhi's birthday in which we will examine and lift up the legacy of Gandhian non-violence and the interfaith movement. I will talk more about this event in a later blog.

Please let me know what you or your religious community is doing to promote peace and justice. We need to insure that there is more good news like Obama's trip to Russia!

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