On Sunday July 8 2018, the Church of England General Synod met in York and passed a motion on the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (also known as the Nuclear Ban Treaty). The vote is a key step as we seek to raise awareness of the Treaty among Christians and engage believers in our work and sees the Church of England join the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church in supporting the Treaty.

The debate in July is the result of much campaigning. At General Synod in February 2018 Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford, held a fringe meeting entitled Can Nuclear Weapons Be Banned? Among those in attendance was Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury. After reading the Treaty and hearing the discussion it was agreed that a paper would be prepared ahead of the July meeting.

The debate which followed was informed and covered many of the issues associated with nuclear weapons. Many who took part voiced their opposition to nuclear weapons for a range of reasons, from the cost of Trident replacement, estimated at £205 billion, to the consequences of their use, which would see millions of people killed. At the end of the debate the motion passed with a large majority.

The motion calls on the UK government to “respond positively” to the Ban Treaty. So far it has instead boycotted meetings, refused to take part in negotiations and publicly stated it will not sign up. This puts the UK on the fringes of international opinion. The motion also asks the government to reiterate existing obligations on nuclear disarmament, talks on which have been deadlocked for decades.

Finally the motion commits the Church of England to work with the Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners to work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons and by doing so achieve “a genuine peace”.

Christian CND work

Christian CND held a fringe meeting in York to support those wishing to take part in the debate. It was well attended and produced interest discussions.

Now that the motion has been passed we are working to ensure that as many people know about it as possible. We are already working with other groups and organisations to spread the word, but we need your help too.

Get involved  

The motion passed by the General Synod is a huge step forward, but there is still much to be done. There are many ways in which you can help the campaign and raise awareness of the motion and the Ban Treaty.

Some other suggestions for action include:

  • Write to your Vicar about the motion. You might also want to send a hard copy of the Ban Treaty, which are available for free from the Christian CND office.

  • Write to other local churches telling them about the motion and Ban Treaty. many areas bring churches from different denominations together for prayer, and other churches will be encouraged that the Church of England has taken this step.

  • Write to your local representatives on General Synod to welcome the motion. You can find details of your local representatives through your diocesan office.

  • Talk to members of your congregation about the motion, the Ban Treaty and encourage them to join Christian CND. If you would like membership forms, these are available for free from the Christian CND office.

  • Organise a meeting locally to gather Christians together to discuss the Ban Treaty. We can help with the arrangements and provide a speaker if necessary.

These are just a few suggestions, if there is anything you want to do which isn’t on the list, that’s great. Please let us know what you are planning so that we can let others know about it.