David E. Anderson
WASHINGTON -- Combining images and words from advertising, pop culture and religion, the bold graphic art of Sr. Mary Corita was as deeply representative of the spirit of the 1960s as it was ubiquitous in church basements, dorm rooms and urban communes of people involved in the struggle for civil rights and the campaign to end the Vietnam War.
When President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed in Prague today a new agreement on nuclear weapons, it marks one more step in the religious community's long campaign to reduce, if not end, the threat of nuclear war.
The Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, aims to reduce each country's deployed strategic warheads to about 1,550 each, and cut the number of launchers from the currently permitted 1,600 to 800. It would also cap nuclear-armed missiles and bombers.
For Christian denominations both at home and abroad, it will represent a major victory in a campaign that has waxed and waned since the first atomic bombs were dropped at the end of World War II.
On August 20, 1945, just days after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Protestant leaders issued a statement expressing their "unmitigated condemnation" of the attacks.
Less than a year later, a commission that included theologians Reinhold Niebuhr and John C. Bennett issued a full-bodied report that declared, "We have sinned grievously against the laws of God" in using nuclear weapons.