Politics makes for some strange bedfellows. But nothing in recent memory is stranger than the emerging alliance between a group of activist evangelicals and former Cold War statesmen in support of an effort to eliminate nuclear weapons. Entirely.
Earlier this week, the group Two Futures introduced itself to reporters on a conference call. The organization is dedicated to the complete abolition of nuclear weapons and it has been launched by young evangelicals. "We are a movement made up of followers of Jesus Christ, from all denominations and traditions, united by the Holy Spirit in our intention to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, as a standard of witness and work in God’s world," they announce on their website.
On the conference call, they were introduced by Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State George Schultz who spoke powerfully about how moral imperative can shape political realities. "The power of the ‘ought’ is tremendous and the ‘ought’ has staying power," Schultz told the reporters before he recalled being with Reagan and former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev at Reykjavik when they floated the idea of eliminating nuclear weapons entirely. Former Sen. Sam Nunn and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger have also endorsed the effort to eliminate nuclear weapons.
The launch of Two Futures coincided with "Q 2009" event in Austin, Texas where Christian activists and pastors meet to discuss how the faith intersects with the culture. This year’s event featured talks by mega-pastor Rick Warren and CNN’s Susan Grant, among others.
I was raised in the Scoop Jackson wing of the Democratic Party which is to say I am a bit of a hawk. Having people like Sam Nunn on board this project matters to me. The President recently addressed the issue and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is up for review so the initiative is certainly timely.
I remember how an older generation of conservatives, evangelical and otherwise, denounced Kissinger’s policy of Détente with the Communist powers as immoral, which was never fair. Kissinger was explicit: We have no moral authority nor right to risk destroying the planet so whatever evil the Soviets or Chinese commit, nonetheless we must negotiate with them to avoid a nuclear confrontation. For this, Kissinger was labeled a moral relativist.
The need to avoid a nuclear confrontation remains even while the Soviet Union is no more. These young Christians are to be applauded for taking the initiative on such a vital issue and the old war horses of the Cold War are to be applauded for lending their learning and their reputation to this effort. The "ought" may not be realized tomorrow, but it will only be realized unless groups like Two Futures – and the rest of us – make it so.