In November 2020 31 Anglican Bishops published an open letter calling on the UK government to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW). The Treaty, which will enter into force in January 2021, will make nuclear weapons illegal under International law. It was supported by 122 states at the United Nations in 2017 and has been signed by 84 states, with 50 having completed ratification.

The support of these Bishops reflects the broader support amongst Anglican clergy and the wider Anglican communion for nuclear disarmament. Many Anglicans were among the 220 Christian leaders who signed a Christian CND statement on the anniversary of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, calling on the government to cancel Trident replacement.

Support from the Church of England for the TPNW dates back to July 2018 when the General Synod met in York and passed a motion calling on the UK government to “respond positively” to the Treaty. The Treaty is also supported by the Quakers, Baptists, Methodists, Church of Scotland and United Reformed Church.

Anglicans have been campaigning for nuclear disarmament within the Church of England for many years. One of the strongest voices has been Stephen Cottrell, Archbishop of York. At General Synod in February 2018 Bishop Stephen held a fringe meeting entitled Can Nuclear Weapons Be Banned? Among those in attendance was Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury.

The motion passed at General Synod and the letter from the Bishops recognises the need to work with others to achieve nuclear disarmament and peace. 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”.

Get involved  

There is still much to do both to raise awareness of nuclear weapons within the Anglican Church, and the support of so many in positions of leadership for nuclear disarmament.

Some suggestions for action include:

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

  • Invite your local clergy to ring church bells at noon on Friday January 22 to welcome the entry into force of the TPNW.

  • Organise a local letter to the press from leaders, this could either be local Christian leaders or an interfaith letter. A model letter is available from the Christian CND office.

  • Write to your local Bishop and either thank them for signing or ask for their view on the TPNW if they were not a signatory to the letter.

  • Write to other local churches telling them about the 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.

  • Talk to members of your congregation about 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 theTreaty. 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.