Baptist minister Tyler Wigg-Stevenson encouraged evangelical Christians to pursue nuclear disarmament at a discussion at the Harris School on Tuesday.
Wigg-Stevenson founded and directs the Two Futures Project, an organization of American Christians supporting the elimination of all nuclear weapons.
To achieve complete disarmament, Wigg-Stevenson called for both international cooperation and American leadership. “The United States, by virtue of spending huge amounts of money on defense, is the dominant actor in global security,” he said. “American leadership will also require domestic political consensus that is fundamentally nonpartisan.”
Wigg-Stevenson rejected a question on the need for a deterrence strategy, saying it represents logic held over from the Cold War. It no longer applies to this political climate, he said. “Nuclear weapons are so destructive that you cannot talk about discrimination between their effects in ways that are ethically significant.”
Wigg-Stevenson and his organization are encouraging Christian churches to firmly proclaim their support for the elimination of nuclear weapons, which they have not yet done. “The Church cannot support their existence while it preaches the defense of life, stewardship of creation, and eradication of poverty,” he said.
Moreover, the minister argued that traditional American Christian theological doctrine necessitates speaking out against nuclear arms. “If you believe in American exceptionalism, then you have a theological view of the United States…. This in turn means that you believe God is the active and imminent judge of the nation. Could God support a nation that uses this kind of violence?”
Some audience members were concerned about churches immersing themselves into politics and becoming inappropriately powerful. “I know what people think about evangelical political engagement…in the past, in response to cultural trauma we have radically overstepped our bounds,” he said.
However, Wigg-Stevenson maintained that religious and secular value-claims should be equally represented. “I believe the state corrupts religion far more than religion corrupts the state,” he said. “Modern Christian engagement in public policy should take theological conditions seriously and face the challenge of transcribing them into policy solutions.”