A Shared Belief

The Islamic Society of North America, the Managing the Atom Project of the Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund and the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy convened a group of 24 religious leaders and scholars, with equal representation of Muslims and Christians, at the Pocantico Conference Center of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund in Tarrytown, N.Y. on May 23-25, 2005, to discuss what their traditions had to contribute to the question of the danger of nuclear weapons at this time in history. This is the final statement of the conference, which was issued just as the five-year review of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty ended in failure. (For more information, visit www.mci-nwd.org. on the Web site of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy.)

We affirm our belief in the One God, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

We agree that the Christian and Muslim traditions are unambiguous on the sanctity of human life and in the protection of all forms of creation including the environment. We believe in the dignity of all human beings and their roles as trustees and humble custodians of the earth and their responsibility for the needs of future generations.

We believe that chemical, biological and particularly nuclear weapons do not discriminate between combatants and noncombatants and inevitably destroy innocent human life even as they destroy other forms of life such as animals and vegetation, cause irrevocable damage to the environment for many generations to come and cause human suffering and disease. Therefore we hold that these weapons are contrary to our religious and ethical principles.

We agree that the ideal response to the nuclear threat is the total and universal ban on all such weapons, including low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, their development, production, possession, acquisition, deployment, use, and the threat of using them. We hold further that any weakening of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is a setback for world peace.

We agree that all nations without exception must abide by international conventions and treaties and other international covenants.

We further agree that the possession of nuclear weapons is an unacceptable risk for the human community in these times and is a continuing threat to the entire planet and its fragile ecosystem. The risk of theft of nuclear weapons or materials by non-state actors for nuclear terrorism as well as the continuing risk of accidental use of nuclear weapons by nation states themselves makes even the possession of nuclear weapons a danger to God’s creation.

We agree that the enormous resources spent on nuclear weapons can be put to a much better use to deal with the problems of poverty, disease, ignorance, and to promote peaceful pluralistic civil society, free of hate and prejudice.

We encourage the engagement on the part of civil society in the debate and policy making decisions relating to nuclear weapons.

We therefore believe that the common position held by both of our traditions, expressed as the sanctity of human life, leads us inexorably to say that the only real security for the world and the only responsible position for people of faith in our two traditions, is to call the United States, and other countries of the world, to gradually and in a verifiable manner, finally eliminate these weapons from the face of the earth.

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