Imagining a World without Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear weapons are one of those issues that many people seem to have forgotten about. For people like me, who were born after the end of the Cold War and can’t remember a time when nuclear disarmament was very much in the public consciousness, it can be a surprise to find that nuclear weapons still exist, let alone that the large historical movement opposing them is still going strong today.

Since the end of the Cold War, Britain’s nuclear stockpile had been gradually decreasing - but in March 2021 the government announced an increase of 40%. This has been estimated to cost over two hundred billion pounds, which is roughly the same as Jeff Bezos’s net worth - just imagine what that money could do if it was spent elsewhere. The UK currently has 225 nuclear warheads; each one is eight times more powerful than the bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War 2. Nine countries in the world are nuclear-armed, and over 90% of the world’s nuclear weapons are owned by Russia and the USA.

Christian CND, a specialist of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (and my employer), was founded in 1961. We have two main aims: to raise awareness about nuclear disarmament issues among Christians, and bringing a distinctly Christian presence into the disarmament movement. Our membership is made up of Christians from all denominations, who live all around the UK, from Guernsey to the Hebrides. We run peace workshops with churches and other Christian groups, and attend Christian festivals, conferences and events to spread our message. We also hold our own events, where we explore these issues in much more depth, as well as our regular online prayer meetings where we pray for peace.

I am writing this during Lent – a time for many of discipline, reflection and intentionality, and a time where SCM is encouraging its members to “follow the call”. On Palm Sunday we will hear about how Jesus rode into Jerusalem not on a war horse or in a chariot, but on a humble donkey. In scripture we see Jesus redefines ideas about power and leadership over and over again. He’s not a violent tyrant, but acts with peace, compassion and humility. Jesus tells his disciple “put away your sword”, and tells us to pray for our enemies. One of the ten commandments is “thou shalt not kill.” What would the world look like if we were all following the Biblical call to be a peacemaker? We might not be brandishing swords or committing murder in our everyday lives, but the world today does not look like the peaceful Kingdom of God we read about in Scripture. When it comes to nuclear weapons, I don’t want to simplify what is a very nuanced issue, but if we are to follow the Biblical call to justice, we need to radically reimagine how the world could look. Imagine if the world’s political leaders were led by Kingdom values, rather than their own egos. Imagine if nobody lived in poverty, that everyone was treated as beloved children of God regardless of their race, gender, sexuality, age, class or disability. Imagine if nation did not take up sword (or bomb) against nation, nor train for war anymore.

It’s worth noting here that issues such as warfare, racism and the climate crisis aren’t separate to each other, but deeply interwoven in an intricate web. I don’t want to present nuclear weapons as yet another thing to worry about - rather that creating a peaceful, nuclear weapons-free world will help these issues, at the same time that dismantling other types of structural sin will make the world more peaceful.

While nuclear disarmament will ultimately come from policy changes, there are many things you can do to speed this up, and to follow the call to peacebuilding. First of all, you can pray - Christian CND have a number of prayer resources. You can learn more about peace issues and nuclear disarmament (maybe through one of Christian CND’s free workshops for groups?), and bring it into conversations to raise awareness. You can speak out about these issues in a party-political context, and lobby for the UK to sign the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons - by writing to your MP, joining a party yourself, or simply with your electoral vote. As with many issues, finance plays a big role; many banks invest in nuclear weapons, so you could look into moving your funds to an ethical bank, or advocate for change with your current bank. And finally, you can make sure that you are acting peacefully and justly in your everyday life, enacting those Kingdom values, and letting peace begin with you.


Liddy Buswell is the Outreach Manager for Christian Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CCND). She cares deeply about Christians engaging with issues of social justice, and is especially interested about how the voices and experiences of young Christians can bring about change both within and outside of the Church. Outside of work she is also a trustee for the Student Christian Movement and a Methodist youth rep, and in her free time enjoys eating good veggie food, spending time in nature, and musical theatre.