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LOGA March 2003 Legislative Update
Religious Leaders Confront Nuclear Danger
The Rev. Mark S. Hanson, Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, along with heads of other denominations and faith groups, has endorsed the religious version of the “Urgent Call to End the Nuclear Danger.”
For most of the religious community, the concern about nuclear weapons is not new. During the 1980s the ELCA and its predecessor denominations called for the end of the nuclear arms race and the dismantling of nuclear weapons. We were often reminded in those days that God created the earth and all that is in it and it would be idolatrous for human beings to even consider destroying it.
Then the Soviet Union and the U.S. began to destroy tens of thousands of nuclear weapons. Treaties were signed and the Soviet Union broke into many separate republics. And most of us thought that the problem was solved.
Now there are new facts:
·The U.S. government talks about using nuclear weapons preemptively.
·New nuclear weapons are proposed.
·The new Moscow treaty calls for dismantling, not destroying, nuclear warheads, leaving thousands of weapons in the Russian-U.S. arsenal.
·The nuclear warheads and nuclear material in the former Soviet Union are poorly guarded and could fall into the hands of terrorists.
·The risk of nuclear war between India and Pakistan is grave.
The religious version of the Urgent Call claims that people of faith choose life and abhor nuclear weapons and the destruction they portend. It then suggests several policy steps for the nations of the world that would make the world a safer place:
·Renouncing the first use of nuclear weapons
·Permanently ending the development, testing and production of nuclear warheads
·Seeking further agreements with Russia on mutual, verified destruction of nuclear weapons
·Taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert
·Strengthening nonproliferation efforts
ACTION NEEDED: Individuals, congregations and synods can join Bishop Hanson by viewing and then endorsing the religious version of the Urgent Call online at http://www.nrdi.org/. A four page printed version of the religious version of the Urgent Call with an endorsement page is available from the Nuclear Reduction/Disarmament Initiative of the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy at 202-885-8684 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact Mark Brown at LOGA or the Rev. Richard Killmer, Program Director, Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, Washington, DC.
. . . see For Peace in God’s World (ELCA, 1995)
Visas Withheld from International Workers in Jerusalem
The Israeli Ministry of the Interior (IMOI) has initiated policy changes that would deny continued work visas for the directors of international humanitarian organizations. The IMOI has notified the directors of our partner relief organizations, including Lutheran World Federation, Catholic Relief Services, the Mennonite Central Committee, and World Vision, that the IMOI is reviewing its visa policy. In the interim, the organizations' directors have been issued receipts instead of work visas.
This action by the IMOI inhibits the delivery of relief assistance and, long-term, could have serious consequences in light of deteriorating humanitarian circumstances in the Palestinian Territories. The directors of these organizations are in the country solely to provide humanitarian assistance, operating primarily in the Territories. Without work visas, there is no assurance that international relief workers can leave Israel and later return or that they can travel to the West Bank or Gaza to assess the humanitarian situation or to visit programs.
ACTION NEEDED: Ask your Senators and Representative to raise this issue with the U.S. Department of State. The issue of humanitarian access to the Palestinian Territories is a matter of continuing concern for the Lutheran World Federation and many other organizations. Ask that the U.S. Government press the Israeli Ministry of the Interior to resolve this matter promptly to avoid any interruptions in humanitarian relief operations.