Sadly, though the current fixation of national debate is still the "Ground Zero Mosque," public opinion polls indicate that American sentiment towards the bomb has become ambivalent, and most recently, dangerously lukewarm -- something I discussed in my piece last week.
But the issue can be refocused in a spiritual light and bring to the ongoing debate on nuclear weapons an angle and voice that were notably absent for the duration of the Cold War.
According to the website, the Project is:
... a movement of American Christians for the abolition of all nuclear weapons ... We support concrete and practical steps to reduce nuclear dangers immediately, while pursuing the multilateral, global, irreversible, and verifiable elimination of nuclear weapons, as a biblically-grounded mandate and as a contemporary security imperative ... By joining together with one voice of Christian conscience, we seek to encourage and enable our national leaders to make the complete elimination of nuclear weapons the organizing principle of American nuclear weapons policy. We join in this work to the glory of God. [emphasis added]
I think this is not only absolutely fascinating, it is absolutely necessary. The strategy of the Two Futures Project -- to re-establish a 45-year-long debate on nuclear weapons, historically devoid of religion and faith-based morality altogether, in a contemporary understanding of what it means to be a loving, caring, responsible Christian -- is to be commended. In his interview with U.S. News, the Reverend lays it out very neatly:
From my point of view, there's no legitimate theological basis in the Bible for Christians to justify the killing of innocents. Nuclear weapons also violate the "just war" criteria, for instance. They don't discriminate between innocents and non-innocents, and they are disproportionate. With that theological conviction, there are only two futures: a world in which nuclear weapons are used, and one in which they are abolished. For me, the choice is easy.
For moderate and intellectual Muslims as well, the choice should be simple: either risk annihilating the human race or eliminate the global threat posed by nuclear weapons. Believe it or not -- and I know I'm opening up a big hole here -- there is plenty of talk in the Qur'an about being good, kind, righteous, giving and generous to one's fellow man, regardless of religious creed. Please note that while the following translations come from Abdullah Yusuf Ali, a renowned Qur'anic scholar, the interpretations thereof are completely mine. A few examples:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other)). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). --Qur'an 49:13
Here's another one, one of my favorite passages, that discusses what righteousness really is:
It is not righteousness that ye turn your faces towards east or West; but it is righteousness- to believe in Allah and the Last Day, and the Angels, and the Book, and the Messengers; to spend of your substance, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for the wayfarer, for those who ask, and for the ransom of slaves; to be steadfast in prayer, and practice regular charity; to fulfill the contracts which ye have made; and to be firm and patient, in pain (or suffering) and adversity, and throughout all periods of panic. Such are the people of truth, the Allah-fearing. --Qur'an 2:177
And finally, a passage that gives credibility to my argument that moderate Muslims should have no problem with, and in fact should support, the Two Futures Project:
Those who believe (in the Qur'an), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. --Qur'an 2:62
Hence, and in light of these verses, it is my (admittedly simplistic) conclusion that when it comes to threats to humanity, there should be a Muslim voice to join hands with that of Christians who support the Two Futures Project -- a voice that is grounded in the realities of our time, that is forward-looking and hopeful, that understands Islam to be a faith of peace and an integral part of the Abrahamic tradition and experience, and that advocates for the salvation and dignity of all human life, irrespective of belief or creed.
And that would truly be joining in this work to the glory of God.
Follow Rizwan Ladha on Twitter: www.twitter.com/rizwanladha