A celebration of the sixty years of campaigning by CND took place at Portcullis House, Westminster on 22 February. Those sharing the story of CND included Ernest Rodker, a veteran campaigner who attended the first meeting at Westminster Central Hall in February 1958, Bruce Kent, who has been both Chair and General Secretary of CND and is now a Vice – President, Jeremy Corbyn MP, also a Vice-President and Pat Gaffney, General Secretary of Pax Christi.
Pat Gaffney reflected on the relationship between CND and the faith communities in work for nuclear disarmament, which has been a feature of its work since its foundation. She said:
The first Chair in 1958 was Canon John Collins who expected a ‘short, sharp, vigorous campaign’… well not quite so short, here we are sixty years on!
Then in 1959 the establishment of a Christian Group of the Campaign, still going strong today as Christian CND.
Through the 60s-90s clergy of varying denominations took on roles and added their voice to the common cause of nuclear disarmament. The Church of Scotland,(Rev John Ainslie, Alan McDonald, as one-time Moderator) Anglicans (Bishop Tony Dumper, Canon Paul Oestreicher, Rev Sidney Hinkes, Rev David Platt. Roman Catholics, Bruce Kent, Archbishop Keith O’Brien, Bishop Thomas McMahon – with CND, providing a platform and a space for Church voices to come on board and bring the teachings and visions of the Gospel to the debate at the time.
Equally important is CND’s challenge to faith communities – especially since early 2000s, working more thoughtfully to engage those communities in political campaigning and advocacy. Around Trident Replacement campaigning resources and arguments were produced that wove the humanitarian, economic, moral and legal arguments about Trident and nuclear weapons into the existing traditions and teachings of people of faith on matters of war and peace
Dave Webb, Chair of CND acknowledged the depth of involvement of grass-roots campaigners around the country, drawing attention to the nuclear weapon crisis through their actions in town centres, military bases and factories. The success of achieving a Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty is to be celebrated and also a spur to us in the UK to continue our campaigning until our own Government agree to support and sign.