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July 11, 2006

Useful idiots: the twenty Church of England Bishop's who called on Britain not to renew Trident are "useful idiots", argues Rev'd Peter Mullen

Posted by Peter Mullen

In a letter to The Independent (10th July 2006) twenty Church of England bishops called upon Britain not to renew its Trident nuclear weapons programme. Rev'd Peter Mullen - Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange - takes issue with the Bishops and explains why he believes them to be "useful idiots".

Twenty bishops have written a letter to say that Britain's Trident nuclear weapons system should not be renewed. They say:

The possession of nuclear weapons is evil. Their possession and use are profoundly anti-God acts.
We need to ask a few questions about this statement. First, if the possession of nuclear weapons is evil now, is their possession always evil? But the possession and use of nuclear weapons against Japan in 1945 was not evil. The dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki brought the Second World War to an end and saved millions of Allied lives when all other attempts to end the war had failed.

So we should ask the bishops why the possession of nuclear weapons is evil now. We face known enemies in Islamist terrorism and rogue states which are far more dangerous than Japan was in 1945 – more dangerous because these enemies either already possess or will soon manufacture nuclear weapons of their own. This fact incidentally gives me the opportunity to refute one of the most insane arguments of CND – the argument that the possession of nuclear weapons makes you a target for nuclear attack. The truth is that the only nation to have suffered a nuclear attack – Japan – did not possess its own nuclear weapons.

The President of Iran has threatened to wipe Israel off the map and last weekend he stated that not just Israel but Israel's allies in the West – Britain and America – would "burn" also. Iran, against resolutions of the United Nations, is currently working on a project to produce nuclear weapons. What the bishops are suggesting is that, in the light of this horrible threat from a totalitarian religious fanatic, it's wise and morally right for us to get rid of our nuclear weapons. But without nuclear weapons we would be at the mercy of Iranian blackmail and more likely to suffer a nuclear attack from its fanatical leader. The one thing that deters any bully or aggressor is the knowledge that his proposed victim will fight back with superior power.

So, it is not nuclear weapons that are evil. No weapon in itself is evil. The goodness or evilness of any weapon is in the rightness or wrongness of the cause in which it is used. It is the bishops' opinions which are evil because, if our government were stupid enough to accept them, then the safety of millions of innocent British people would be put at risk, at the mercy of any foreign tyrant or fanatic armed with nuclear weapons of his own. The bishops' ill-thought-out and morally cockeyed letter is a threat to our national safety. But the bishops made the oath of loyalty to the Queen, they have a duty of patriotism. They should withdraw their statement – or else resign at once.

Their letter is barely grammatical and atrociously expressed, saying:

The cost involved could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all and would go a long way towards helping make poverty history.
This is such rubbish. I'm only surprised they didn't add, "…and help us win the 2010 World Cup".

So they say we address the causes of terrorism by caving in to the terrorists! They say the environment will be improved by our unilateral disarmament which would in reality make it more likely an enemy feels free to destroy our whole environment and us all with it! Stalin had a word for the CND numbskulls such as the bishops. He called them "useful idiots".

Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.


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We write to add our voice to the public debate on the issue of the maintenance and renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons programme demanded by the House of Commons Defence Committee. We urge MPs seriously to consider our views when they come to a formal debate in the House and take part in any subsequent vote.

Whatever our various views on conventional warfare, we all agree that Just War arguments rule out the use of nuclear weapons and such weapons challenge the very core of Judeo-Christian Faith where humanity is given responsibility for the stewardship of God's creation. But there are also practical, moral and economic objections to the basic concept of having a deterrent.

Practical because a deterrent is only effective if a potential enemy knows for certain it will be used. But the use of nuclear weapons would not be an option for us, as that would be nothing less than the mass murder of thousands if not tens of thousands of innocent civilians. The resultant fall-out from a tactical or battlefield weapon could not be confined to a particular area.

Moral because it is morally corrupting to threaten the use of weapons of mass destruction even when there is no real intention of using them.

Economic because the use of limited resources on WMDs diverts those resources from education, health and aid to those who are the poorest and most in need.

Humanity has the power to make or mar this planet. Current concern over global warming and the environment, as well as poverty and debt among the world's most vulnerable people, demonstrate the need to re-engage with the task of caring for the world and its people.

Human dignity and freedom are foundation values for all people. Humanity has a right to live in dignity and freedom without fear. Trident and other nuclear arsenals threaten long-term and fatal damage to the global environment and its peoples. As such their end is evil and both possession and use profoundly anti-God acts.

Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual. The Christian Gospel is one of hope, enabling humanity to live in harmony with itself and nature and leading to prosperity and community life marked by joy.

At the Gleneagles summit a year ago the G8 pledged to "Make Poverty History" and to end the debt burden on the world's poorest countries. The costs involved in the maintenance and replacement of Trident could be used to address pressing environmental concerns, the causes of terrorism, poverty and debt, and enable humanity and dignity to be the right of all, and would go a long way towards helping Make Poverty History.

RT REVD PETER PRICE

BISHOP OF BATH AND WELLS;

RT REVD COLIN BENNETTS

BISHOP OF COVENTRY

RT REVD MICHAEL HILL, BISHOP OF BRISTOL

RT REVD RICHARD LEWIS

BISHOP OF EDMUNSBURY AND IPSWICH RT REVD JOHN SAXBEE, BISHOP OF LINCOLN RT REVD TIMOTHY STEVENS BISHOP OF LEICESTER RT REVD JACK NICHOLLS, BISHOP OF SHEFFIELD RT REV DR DAVID JAMES BISHOP OF BRADFORD AND 12 SUFFRAGAN BISHOPS

Posted by: Bishop's Letter to Independent at July 11, 2006 03:08 PM
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Wasn't it Lenin rather than Stalin who used the term "useful idiots"

(not that it makes an awful lot of difference)

Posted by: james king at July 11, 2006 03:18 PM
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"The possession of nuclear weapons is evil. Their possession and use are profoundly anti-God acts."
This is an inaccurate quotation from the letter. It is not difficult to quote accurately. The letter says:
"As such their end is evil and both possession and use profoundly anti-God acts."
It may not make a lot of difference to Peter Mullen's argument, and he has improved the bishops' grammar for them.
The bishops should look back to "The Cross and the Bomb" published in 1983, a response to the church's trend to unilateralism at the time, before thinking the issue is so easy.

Posted by: Mark Hart at July 11, 2006 06:15 PM
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This talk of CND reminds me of an earlier generation of bishops marching along with Bertrand Russell, who was an atheist of some sort, even though he appeared to think he was God’s gift to women. The curious thing is, Russell was for a pre-emptive nuclear strike on the USSR until they developed their own weapons, and were capable of hitting back.

Nevertheless, they may have achieved something malgré eux. It is just possible that the Soviets thought “let’s not go to war right now, let’s wait and see if we can use these useful idiots to undermine the West”. But I cannot see any such possibility with the Mad Mullahs.

But would the Rev’d Peter Mullen PLEASE stop pulling up people on their grammar. The offence it causes means that they are even less likely to listen. And he does remind me of the sort of people who thought that Euclid was the ONLY way to do geometry.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at July 11, 2006 06:51 PM
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The idiocy and lack of faith, both to their country and to their congregations, of C of E Bishops never ceases to amaze me. I often read stories (now and when I lived in England) of the very prominent political politicl role played by C of E leadership and wonder if it ever leaves them time to think of any of their churchmembers.

Instead of the politics, they need to be directing their efforts toward things that really help people: teaching people and helping provide them with an education to lift them out of poverty; showing them (also by way of education) how proper hygiene can help alleviate infant mortality, early (and senseless) death by disease, and help with proper nutrition; help their parishioners organise charity drives to donate blankets and other necessities to the needful and deserving; foster and sponsor worthy students over to the UK to study and take degrees in subjects they can use to help their own countries out; in short - propagating Christ's teachings and Christian values by DOING, rather than ignoring and leaving it to someone else to (hopefully) pick up the slack. These Bishops spend more time politicking and snuggling up to the cause of the moment than doing their jobs - indeed they should resign and do the entire church a favour.

Posted by: Katje at July 13, 2006 02:25 PM
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Church of England: empty churches led by empty heads. Eliot tagged them with his "The Hollow Men" in the last century. Sic transit, y'all. Enjoy your servitude in the dar-e-islam.

Posted by: kufrdog at July 13, 2006 11:39 PM
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