Charles Kiker: The Bomb and I

Charles Kiker

By Charles Kiker

(This op-ed appeared in the June 6 Amarillo Globe-News.)

Churches bear witness to nuclear arsenal

The possession and possible use of nuclear weapons is a spiritual, political and personal issue. It is a spiritual issue because life is a spiritual issue. The Ten Commandments state it negatively, “Thou shalt not kill.” Jesus stated it positively, “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

It is a political, though not a partisan, issue. Republican presidents have worked toward agreements reducing the possession of nuclear weapons. Democratic President Barack Obama signed the New START agreement aimed at further reductions in nuclear weapons on April 8, 2010.

Several former Republican secretaries of state urged ratification of the agreement. The Senate gave the world a Christmas present Dec. 22, 2010, by ratifying the agreement in a bipartisan vote. This agreement, however, is very limited in its scope. It applies only to the United States and Russia, and, even when fully implemented, will only reduce nuclear weapons by 50 percent. Much remains to be done to eliminate the threat of nuclear conflict.

The church cannot control the state. But the church can bear witness to the state. This time at the anniversary of Hiroshima is a good time for that witness.

For me, the issue of nuclear weapons is deeply personal. On Aug. 6, 1945, my family had a very close and much loved relative who had fought in numerous battles in the Pacific. He was stationed on Okinawa, anticipating a ground invasion of Japan. He is still with us as of this writing. A ground invasion of Japan would have resulted in tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, killed and maimed. So my family and I experienced relief when Japan surrendered a few days after atomic bombs destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not long after that, I dreamed I had set off an atomic bomb in our barn. I was filled with guilt and shame at the destruction I had wrought.

Somehow, though not yet 12 years old, I realized that I was responsible — that my finger was on the nuclear trigger. I am still responsible. Therefore, as a Christian I will pray for and speak for the total elimination of nuclear weapons from God’s world.

“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”

Dr. Charles Kiker is a retired Baptist minister who lives in Tulia.

2 thoughts on “Charles Kiker: The Bomb and I

  1. This was printed on first page of the “Faith” section in Amarillo Globe News yesterday Aug. 6. Editor of “Faith” page insisted it should be “spiritual” and not “political” as though the two were antithetical. Thus I had to make sure it was not political in a partisan sense. She also insisted it should be no more than 400 words in length. Thus I was not able to deal with Just War theory. No way use of nuclear weapons can be squared with Just War. Actually, as someone has said, “Just War is just war.”

    This morning at joys and concerns time someone got up and and said, “How about our Texas Governor!” praising the prayer meeting in Reliant Stadium. I timidly spoke up, “In view of this anniversary time of the introduction of nuclear war, I think it is fitting that we pray for peace.”

  2. This is one of the times of the year in the Church we can talk honestly about peace and war and memories and fears. I’ve heard accounts that Japan was close to negotiating for peace in the summer of 1945, and not, as commonly thought, ready for hand-to-hand, “kamikaze style” resistance on the home Islands of Japan, or that waiting a few days after the bombing of Hiroshima for negotiations would have made the bombing of Nagasaki unnecessary except as a test.

    Fear of nuclear war is less today than during the cold war, though huge stockpiles of nuclear weapons still exist in the US and Russian arsenals. I grew up, not dreaming that I had detonated nuclear bombs, but that the MAD strategy of mutually assured destruction between the two superpowers had occurred. Children naturally wish for peace, especially if they learn about children living with war elsewhere in the world, or in history. Have you ever made little origami “peace” cranes in Sunday School or hung them as garlands in Church for Hiroshima Day, Armistice Day or Peace Sunday? There is a story about Sadako Sasaki in Hiroshima who survived the bombing but developed lukemia, and knew the folktale that anyone who folded 1000 paper cranes would have a wish come true; she folded only 644 before she passed away, but now people all over the world fold strings of 1000 cranes as a prayer for peace.

Comments are closed.