Letters: Nuclear weapons

Nuclear weapons challenge the very core of our faith

Share

Sir: 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

Sad and angry over veiled women

Sir: Deborah Orr is "offended" by the sight of veiled women swathed in black in the streets of London (8 July). Offended? Walking past women who cover their hair with scarves, their faces with veils, their bodies in shapeless garments for so-called religious reasons does not offend me: it makes my blood boil.

If the leaders of British Muslim communities fail to grasp how sad and angry most of us women in this country feel when we think about the way a large proportion of Muslim women are treated by their men, they will never understand why it is so hard for us to remain tolerant or respectful of their religion and way of life.

No doubt a minority of Muslim women do defend their decision to hide face and body in the name of their faith. But there are hundreds of different interpretations of the Koran. There are hundreds of different ways Muslim women express their faith and live their lives. Millions across the world wear modern clothes and go about the business of building a life as independent, free women.

By being "understanding", "respectful" or "tolerant" of any woman who hides her hair, covers her face or wraps her body in black because that is what the men in her life or her religious leaders demand of her, are we not saying to our Muslim sisters, "We don't care about you, your liberation is not our business, you are no sister of mine, go back to your own country" ?

NICOLE IVANOFF

BURY, GREATER MANCHESTER

Sir: Bravo Deborah! At last someone saying out loud what most females think. This has to be the most sinister garment since the IRA balaclava. Unless I can see someone full-face I cannot begin to trust them and I will not speak to them.

I think of all those British women who suffered for women's rights over the past century and I grieve that we have made so little impact on these younger women who appear to live in their own time zone, in a foreign state, and certainly not ours. These are not Britons.

M J ADDERLEY

STOCKPORT, CHESHIRE

Sir: Which is the more offensive sight: a drunk woman, almost naked, wandering in the streets late at night; or a veiled Muslim woman on the streets of London?

MOHAMMED MAASHER

MANCHESTER

Sir: Deborah Orr claims that the head-to-toe clothing worn by some female Muslims is repulsive and insulting. I agree. Women who wear this type of clothing are implying that their worth is less than that of a male. However, Western females who readily shed their clothes, such as lap dancers and those who pose in the lads' mags, are implying that their worth is only as sex objects for males. Both extremes are unhealthy.

KATHLEEN BEENHAM

SWANSEA

Walton's Battle of Britain music

Sir: It was encouraging to read Robert Fisk's commendation for the Spitfires and the music of the film Battle of Britain (1 July). But that raises the question: which score?

As the assistant editor on the film, I was closely involved in the painful days when the distributor, United Artists, rejected the film with Sir William Walton's inspired score and ordered its replacement by one hastily commissioned from Ron Goodwin. The film, on its original release, contained one four-minute section of the Walton score, the remainder being by Goodwin.

For the Zone 2 DVD release of the film in 2004, the successors of UA, MGM, agreed to the restoration of the complete Walton score as one of the "added extras". I like to think that a writer of Mr Fisk's discernment shares director Guy Hamilton's preference for the Walton version. Sir William was alert to Guy's vision that there was not a hair's breadth to choose between the skill, courage and dedication of the pilots on either side; the decisive difference lay in the qualities at high command level.

TIMOTHY GEE

LONDON NW10

Private schools have much to teach

Sir: Grammar-school educated myself, I have been following the discussion about independent versus state schools with interest as I have found that the only way to get any kind of comparable education for my own children has been to go private.

Not all independent schools are good - you can pay a lot of money for inferior versions - but I have been amazed how schools like Tonbridge, which my son is fortunate enough to attend, turn adolescent boys into fit, articulate, and -that increasingly rare thing - all-round human beings who act in school plays, paint pictures, attend or take part in concerts and have knowledge of poetry, philosophy and ethics as well as rugby.

Far from decrying these institutions, governments should get in there and see how they do it (it is not just a question of money) and copy them.

JULIA DOHERTY

UCKFIELD, EAST SUSSEX

No helmet could save this rider

Sir. I am very glad to see how much The Independent is doing to promote cycling, but I believe that one of your statements in Freeze Frame (6 July) needs clarifying. You state that the Tour de France cyclist Fabio Casartelli died because he was not wearing a helmet.

He died because his head hit a concrete post after he crashed while riding at around 60mph. It is extremely questionable whether a cycle helmet - designed to absorb very much lower amounts of energy than the crash created - would have saved his life.

In countries where there are very large numbers of cyclists, such as the Netherlands, cycle helmets are a rare sight, without, it seems, there being numerous head injuries as a result. Cycling safety would be improved by the teaching of better driving - and cycling - skills, vastly improved cycling facilities and an increase in the number of cyclists. Evidence suggests that the more people who cycle the safer it becomes.

SIMON WITHERS

TROWBRIDGE, WILTSHIRE

Common law bars Guantanamo

Sir: Professor Dershowitz (Extra, 3 July) rightly says laws must change with the times. He is on firm ground when he castigates rights groups that exaggerate the faults of democracies and minimise those of terrorists.

But when as a "lifelong civil libertarian" he opposes a "vast 'black hole' in the law ... that accounts for Guantanamo, extraordinary renditions and other phantom places and actions about which we know nothing" he ignores centuries of protection by the common law against such arbitrary imprisonment.

It was Blackstone in his Commentaries on the Laws of England who said over 180 years ago, "Confinement of the person by secretly hurrying him to jail, where his sufferings are unknown or forgotten, is a less public, a less striking, and therefore a more dangerous engine of arbitrary government." It is the US Supreme Court that has gone some way at least to affirm the protection of the law against such arbitrary conduct. There is no black hole- save that created by the jailers themselves.

MICHAEL T DARWYNE

SINGAPORE

Sir: I'm not surprised that so many of the letters (5 July) responding to my article dealt with torture, even though that was not a subject I discussed in the article (except to call for rules defining and regulating what constituted torture).

The entirely misleading headline directed attention away from what I actually wrote. "Should we fight terror with torture?" may sell papers, but that is not the article I wrote. Apparently, some letter writers read only the headline.

ALAN DERSHOWITZ

HARVARD LAW SCHOOL CAMBRIDGE, MASSACHUSETTS, USA

Illegal trade in wild animals

Sir: Though focused only on the African grey parrot, your article "Deceased? Not if scheme to halt trade succeeds" (6 July) performs a valuable service in drawing attention to one of the biggest threats to global biodiversity: the illegal trade in wildlife.

Brazil has been particularly hard-hit by wildlife trafficking, with an annual average of around 38 million animals having been illegally removed from their natural habitats in recent years. Of these, only around 4 million reach their final buyers - the majority die during transport or capture.

The Brazilian government has launched an international campaign to raise awareness about this environmental crime, which is punishable by imprisonment in Brazil. Individuals who buy wild animals need to be aware of the highly destructive consequences of illegal wildlife trafficking.

JOSÉ MAURICIO BUSTANI

AMBASSADOR OF BRAZIL TO THE UNITED KINGDOM, LONDON W1

Muslim responsibilities

Sir: In response to the correspondence on the responsibilities of moderate Muslims to oppose extremism, it is unfair to expect of them any greater responsibilities than moderate white people would generally feel towards extremist or violent members of the white community.

KATHY MCIVER

EDGWORTH, BOLTON

Patronised by Cooper

Sir: I write to express my utmost support for Josette Morgan's comments (7 July) about the ignorant, patronising and tedious Cooper Brown. I had hesitated to write before because of my fear that an editor would assume any comment is a good comment, thereby mistakenly proving their choice of columnist is controversial/interesting etc. Absolutely not! I read Brown's first column - it was so awful I thought it was a spoof - skimmed the second and vowed never to waste my time on him again. Please cancel his contract!

VERITY BROWN

LINDFIELD, WEST SUSSEX

Better design

Sir: Your article "Revamp of schools foiled by bad design" (4 July) gives out the wrong message and the report you refer to from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is a little out of date, failing as it does to acknowledge the substantial work recently done to improve school design. For instance, the British Council for School Environments, with partners from both the private and public sectors, has been set up to look at just this - how to deliver better designed schools.

PAUL FOSTER

HEAD OF EDUCATION AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT, EC HARRIS LONDON WC1

Dispute with Darwin

Sir: Andrew Buncombe ("The Christian tycoon who wants to ban gay marriage", 7 July) suggests that John Prescott should have questioned Philip Anschutz over his funding of a think tank which opposes Darwinian theory. Yet doesn't Mr Prescott's tenuous but continuing tenure of office fly fully in the face of Darwin's theory of survival of the fittest? While perhaps not the best advert for creationism, surely our beloved Deputy Prime Minister can only be explained by the working of some Supreme Being's unaccountable benevolence and patronage.

ADRIAN CRUDEN

DEWSBURY, WEST YORKSHIRE

Under water

Sir: I see from Michael Harrison's report (Business, 5 July) that the German parent company RWE plans to float Thames Water. What will they use?

DAVID BALL

BOURNEMOUTH

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The landslide vote for gay marriage takes Irish society further away from the Vatican  

Ireland gay marriage: Church's decision not to lead No campaign recognised remarkable new reality

Paul Vallely
The Public Accounts Committee found widespread concern among civil servants that they would be victimised if they spoke out about wrongdoing  

Nikileaks explained: The sad thing about the Nicola Sturgeon saga is that it makes leaks less likely

Jane Merrick
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?