United religious call for Australia to join nuclear ban

Aug 6, 2020 | News

Seventy-five years after the destruction of Hiroshima with one nuclear weapon, religious groups across Australia are raising the call for Australia to sign and ratify the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

An interfaith open letter endorsed by 61 faith organisations calls for the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition to ensure Australia joins the Treaty. It notes;

“We continue to witness massive investment in existing and new nuclear weaponry and are deeply concerned that nine heads-of-state hold such power over the global community. Nuclear arms control agreements are expiring, languishing or collapsing.

We are heartened by the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. Negotiated by a majority of nations, the new treaty champion collective security beyond nuclear weapons. It sets the new highest standard for nations seeking nuclear abolition, to ensure these weapons are never used again. It is a treaty that cannot be bent to suit the wishes of the nuclear-armed.”

Signatories include representatives of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, the Anglican Church of Australia, the Islamic Council of Victoria, the Uniting Church in Australia Assembly and the Hindu Council of Australia.

Uniting Church President Dr Deidre Palmer notes “Nuclear weapons threaten the survival of humanity and our living planet and represent a willingness to indiscriminately kill millions of civilians. They breed relationships of distrust and fear.”

The Treaty has been signed by 82 countries and ratified by 40. It will enter into force after the 50th ratification. Several more countries will ratify the Treaty to commemorate the Hiroshima bombing, to be announced at midnight on Thursday.  

Australia has not joined the treaty, claiming to rely on the US nuclear arsenal for protection. “If Australia is serious about nuclear disarmament, we will reject these abhorrent weapons and join the Treaty. Unlike a pandemic, a nuclear war is a global health crisis we can prevent,” said Gem Romuld, Director of ICAN Australia. The Treaty enjoys a high level of support in the Asia-Pacific region, including from the Philippines, Thailand, Fiji and New Zealand.

The Australian Labor Party committed to sign and ratify the Treaty in government, in a motion proposed by Anthony Albanese MP and unanimously agreed to in December 2018. A cross-party group Parliamentary Friends of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was launched in June.

Signed by 61 organisations as at 6 August 2020:

The Most Reverend Geoffrey Smith, Archibishop of Adelaide and Primate
Anglican Church of Australia

Australasian Muslim Times

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen OFM Conv DD STL, Chairperson
Bishops Commission for Social Justice, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference

Right Reverend Professor Stephen Pickard, Executive Director
Australia Centre for Christianity and Culture, Charles Sturt University

Australian Jewish Democratic Society

Australian Raelian Movement

Australian Student Christian Movement

Ballarat Interfaith Network

Believing Women for a Culture of Peace

Brigidine Sisters Kildara Centre

Buddhist Council of NSW

Judith McKinlay and Jared Mitchell, Co-Chairs
Canberra Region Presbytery, Uniting Church in Australia

Carmelite Justice, Peace & Integrity of Creation Commission for Australia & Timor-Leste

Fr. Peter Smith, Justice and Peace Promoter
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Br Peter Carroll FMS, President, and Anne Walker, National Executive Director
Catholic Religious Australia

Christians for Peace Newcastle

Rev Dr Patrick McInerney, Director
Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations

Dr Patricia Madigan OP, Executive Director
Dominican Centre for Interfaith Ministry, Education and Research (CIMER)

Edmund Rice Centre

Rev Dr Gordon Preece, Chair
Ethos: Centre for Christianity & Society

Fairfield Uniting Church

Michael Wells, PSM, President
Federation of Australian Buddhist Councils

Hashomer Hatzair Australia

Rev Shigenobu Watanabe
Hongwanji Buddhist Mission of Australia

Inner West Chavurah

Mohamed Mohideen, President
Islamic Council of Victoria

Jewish Labour Bund

Jewish Voices for Peace and Justice NSW

Jewish Voices for Power

Justice and Peace Committee, Tasmanian Quakers 

Rev Dr Gordon Preece, Chair
Melbourne Anglican Diocese Social Responsibilities Committee

Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church

Father Claude Mostowik msc, Director
Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australian Province)

Stancea Vichie, Congregational Leader
Missionary Sisters of Service

Philippa Rowland, President
Multifaith Association of South Australia

Muslim Charitable Foundation

Muslim Women’s Association of South Australia

Bishop Phillip Huggins, President
National Council of Churches in Australia

NSW Ecumenical Council

Office of Justice and Peace
Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney

Rev James Bhagwan, General Secretary
Pacific Conference of Churches

Rev Dr Manas Ghosh, Minister
Parramatta Mission

Father Claude Mostowik msc, President
Pax Christi Australia

Dr Carolyn Tan, Chair
Public Affairs Commission of the Anglican Church of Australia

Queensland Faith Communities Council

Religions for Peace

Ann Zubrick, Presiding Clerk
Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Australia

Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) South Australia and Northern Territory

Shepparton Interfaith Network

Jatinder Singh
Sikh Youth Australia

Sr Monica Cavanagh, Congregational Leader
Sisters of St Joseph

Chris Steains, General Director
Soka Gakkai International Australia

Temple Society Australia Regional Council

Dr Deidre Palmer, President
Uniting Church in Australia Assembly

Rev Dr Gordon Preece, Honorary Director
University of Divinity, Religion and Social Policy Network

Swami Sunishthananda, Vice President
Vedanta Centre of Melbourne

Victorian Quakers

Alexander Scutt, Leader
Wellspring Community Australia

Whittlesea Interfaith Network