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December 16, 1959, Vol. V, No. 8
Religion and the Missile
By John Wilcock
The next war could start by accident very easily. It would be a war so immense in its scope and so devestating in its effects that people don’t seem to be able to grasp even a few basic facts about it. The United States Army, according to data that has never been denied, is building an ICBM missile system that, when completed, will consist of 4,000 nuclear missiles pre-aimed at Russian cities and military targets. They can be launched on five minutes’ notice, and, under certain conditions, on the initiative of the officer in command of each group.
It is fairly safe to guess that within a very short time – maybe even now – similar missiles are pointed at cities and military targets in this country, too.
The facts above come from a booklet, “This is the Missile,” published at 15 cents by a pacifist group called Omaha Action…The booklet gives explicit information about missiles, and attributes all controversial-looking statements to their sources.
Omaha Action members concede that the situation looks black, but suggest that the way to deal with it is to publicize the facts as widely as possible and to assume personal responsibility for doing something about them. “It is, we believe, our democratic right and duty to engage in nonviolent action against what we believe to be evil and dangerous policies of government.”
One statement in “This Is the Missile” especially caught my attention: “Thermonuclear missile war would be satanic. No possible rationalization could justify such a war or reconcile it with Christian ethics or principles of honor, justice, and truth.”
That seemed to me to be indisputable, and it set me wondering about how the churches feel about another war. As self-proclaimed leaders of the community, are they setting the lead in getting world tensions eased? In having nuclear weapons outlawed? In making their flock see the folly of rearmament? In using all their power and prestige to sway opinion in high places?
Where does organized religion stand on these questions? I decided to wonder no longer. On Thanksgiving Day I sent off copies of “This Is the Missile” to the leading members of all religious denominations, drawing their attention to the section quoted above. I sent a covering letter asking for their comments upon these matters…
[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]