There are “no circumstances” in which modern-day Trident missiles can be used to justify the destruction that these weapons would cause, the Bishop of Chelmsford told the General Synod on Sunday.

“Others want to procure them. Our holding them only makes them seem more attractive to other nation states, often those with the most vicious and repellent governments.”

According to Hattie Williams writing in the Church Times here, the Synod had not debated nuclear weapons for 11 years

“That the Government had not signed the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons was “hugely disappointing” and “looks like complacency”, he continued (Comment, 9 February).

He also questioned the billions of pounds spent on Trident, which would be better used elsewhere. His motion called on the Synod to welcome the Treaty, lobby the Government to prohibit the possession of nuclear weapons, and commit the Church to working with eccumenical partners to address regional and national security concerns.”

The following motion was carried, unamended, 260 votes in favour, 26 against:

That this Synod, mindful that a faithful commemoration of the centenary of the 1918 Armistice must commit the Church afresh to peace building; and conscious that nuclear weapons, through their indiscriminate and destructive potential, present a distinct category of weaponry that requires Christians to work tirelessly for their elimination across the world:(a) welcome the 2017 UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and the clear signal it sends by a majority of UN Member States that nuclear weapons are both dangerous and unnecessary;

(b) call on Her Majesty’s Government to respond positively to the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons by reiterating publicly its obligations under Article VI of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty and its strategy for meeting them; and

(c) commit the Church of England to work with its Anglican Communion and ecumenical partners in addressing the regional and international security concerns which drive nations to possess and seek nuclear weapons and to work towards achieving a genuine peace through their elimination.”

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Are they also talking to North Korea, Russia, Iran etc?

They seem to totally misunderstand the notion of “deterrent”…

Unfortunately the world can not un-invent these weapons.

John Pattullo

it amazes me how many people fail to grasp the whole concept of deterrence – and assume that if we got rid of ours then everybody would jsut throw theirs away too – it would just encourage the despots to get them as then they would know they could win wars with no risk to themselves

barry white

Want to stop wars do you?
Its not the nucks that do it as they have never ever as far as i know caused a war
But i will tell you what has caused almost all wars in history- Its people like you and all other religions thats what
So control all the fanatics and perhaps we will have peace

Chris j

Religion is the problem, not the answer…


Sorry, but the day i take moral advice from any religion will be the day their made up hell freezes over.
Keep your religion to yourself.
Get your own houses in order first before you use religion as a moral compass.

We live in a dangerous world your ‘grace’.
None more dangerous than where religion is concerened….
I didnt see the Catholic Church say much when the Nazis were on their jolly….

Rachel Levy

Church of England keep to your remit.
You are out of your depth discussing
Nuclear arms. Concentrate on defending
Christians being slautrred in the Islamic
States, churches being destroyed,
Thousands of your co religionists made
Refugees. Where is the Church? Meddling in
Matters that will bear no fruit.


bore off bishop. you don’t get to dictate foreign policy.

Daniele Mandelli

He should keep out of politics.

And if serious go talk to other nations about their nukes.

Always the west first.

These people just do not get it.


Another twenty years & it will be the Church of England that will be extinct. They say that themselves when they look at falling congregation numbers.
I suspect the UK nuclear deterrent will outlive the Church of England.

Mike Saul

The church of England is completely irrelevant and the statement from the Bishop of Chelmsford shows why that is the case.


It’s not a “Weapon of Mass Destruction” unless actually used, it’s a deterrent which can avoid the death of hundreds of millions of people in a conventional war.

And that’s all I have to say about THAT.


For all the battering of the CofE on here, given what they are, they can hardly say anything else. I don’t doubt that they would include all nuclear weapons in the world and aren’t some offshoot of the far left trying to make the UK disarm. I have no problem with them expressing that opinion, even though I don’t agree with unilateralism. Incidentally, when the Shah was ousted Ayatollah Khomeini, when he took control, ordered the abandonment of Iran’s nuclear programme as it was ‘the work of the devil’. Ronald Reagan sincerely wanted multilateral nuclear disarmament – frightened the Pentagon… Read more »

David E Flandry

Reagan sincerely wanted multilateral nuclear disarmament, but he was not going to initiate it, or base it on some mullah’s words.


‘ but he was not going to initiate it, or base it on some mullah’s words’

I wasn’t linking the two, I was pointing out how strange things can be. As for Reagan initiating it he obviously wasn’t going to be unilateral but when Gorby suggested taking the TNF talks further he was very keen to do so.

David E Flandry

Yes, but that was an agreement between the US and then USSR to limit, not eliminate by any means, their nuclear forces.


I agree that’s what the TNF treaty was about, but Reagan made a remark about removing all nuclear weapons, to which Gorbachev said why don’t we talk about it now when they were on the steps outside the summit building.

Geoffrey Roach

As soon as the Bishop convinces the Chinese and the Russians and the North Koreans and potentially GOD knows who else to disarm I will call for Trident to be scrapped.


The Bishop does have a right to express his views to the General Synod of the Church of England. On wars caused by religion, it should be noted. That Hitler, Stalin and Mao were all atheists and were responsible for more deaths then any religious groups.
Also seeing how much Trudent costs. Isn’t there a rationale argument to say that given our current tight budgets , Trudent is actually damaging our defence capabilities. Isn’t there mileage in at the very least a less costly nuclear detterent ??

Geoffrey Roach

rec…I am certainly not suggesting that the Bishop shouldn’t speak out but I do feel that the church would be better off calling on the dictators of this world to disarm, therefore giving support to the people in those countries striving for freedom and the right to vote democratically.

barry white

Geoffrey Roach
Did you say the ” right to vote democratically.”?
We have in this country re brexit and look what has happend
I know im off the subject thats on here but i had to get that in

Geoffrey Roach

arrgh!!….you might be right.


Hitler was not an Atheist… There was plenty of Religious symbolism in his speeches, and plans. He was brought up in the Catholic Church and the Nazis practised pagan rituals. Hitler was also fanatical about Religious artefacts. Stalin was not really an Atheist either. He was brought up in the Orthodox Church and even went to confession a number of times during his atrocities. Mao was also not totally Atheist either as he clearly still held on to some Buddhist beliefs and not only that but installed himself as the effective God. The Red Guard Movement were effectively a Religious… Read more »


Hitler was not an Atheist, he was a Christian born to a Catholic mother and repeatedly spoke out against Atheism.

Paul Bestwick

I see this effort being as successful as the attempt by the catholic church to ban the crossbow in the middle ages .


Geoffrey, The Church does through numerous organisations does challenge various dictators. Bare in mind many if them persecute Christians. Anyway it’s a joy of a democracy to engage in robust debate.

Geoffrey Roach



And many Christian ministers were killed by the nazis in Ww2 . Those who stood up to Hitler were sent to the Eastern front . Google Dietrich Bonhoeffer – who was hung for resisting Hitler

Mark CDF

As many have said deterrent means exactly that. Trident is there to ensure that Nukes are NOT used. Anybody who thinks that unilateral disarmament will work is living in cloud cuckoo land!

Only one country has done it so fae and that was the Ukraine with “guarantees from the US and RUSSIA. Look what happened to them!

Alex Burn

Only ever say they need to go if you can replace them with something else that will protect us. like tech that can shoot them out of the sky, rail guns, lasers……………. If you are going to say get rid of them you better come with plans that make any one who fires one look like they just shot a cannon ball from a cannon at from battle of waterloo, because they have become out dated and old tech.

One day they will go but not yet.


While not wanting to upset the people on here he has a point. There probably isn’t a situation that would morally allow us to launch our deterrence. As I understand we don’t operate a first strike policy so any launch would be retaliation. Yes before you all shout “that’s what deterrence is!” I know that’s the point but to kill millions to this end would be pointless. I think more interestingly why do we the UK need an independent nuclear deterrent if we are in NATO and therefore under the protection of the USA…?? Yes there will be those that… Read more »


‘if we are in NATO and therefore under the protection of the USA…??’

It’s a mutual pact, but in any case listen to the rants of the current US leader if you wonder why we need it.

Glass Half Full

Actually not pointless. Its not about getting revenge and whether we’re around around to enjoy it or not, its about making a nuclear war “unwinnable” and therefor not worth starting. For example say the UK alone responded against Russia, then large tracts of Russia would be unlivable due to fall out, apart from those areas actually destroyed. While the size of Russia and the limited capability of the UK alone makes it certain that there would be survivors (assuming for the sake of argument no one else fires back at Russia) what sort of world would they be living in?… Read more »

David E Flandry

I did not know that theology degrees included studying military science, tactics and strategy, and other subject that qualified these people to critique nuclear deterrence strategy.


I think being horrified at weapons that could destroy much of what they regards as God’s creation qualifies them to have an opinion on it.

Swiss Chard

David, The UK Churches have always studied military science, tactics and strategy because unless you do the ethical comments you make will miss the mark. The C of E’s full-time adviser on international affairs was a security adviser in the European Commission. See


I would love us to not have nuclear weapons, but let’s be honest if Russia still has them we need them, they would use nuclear blackmail in a second if Western European nations had no access to a nuclear deterrent.


What a silly billy.


A nuclear deterrent doesn’t just prevent nuclear war, they also prevent conventional war between nations that have the ability to inflict mass civilian casualties on a scale not seen since the invention of the bombs. You want to ban Nukes? fine, but when MAD isnt an option then total war becomes the final stage of military escalation, good luck reconciling that with your maker when tens of millions die in a war of attrition. While Nukes sit in their silos and are not used they prevent an escalation of war and that is their primary object, its for that reason… Read more »

Swiss Chard

A lot of comments on this page are having a pop at the Church of England and claiming that the case in favour of nuclear weapons is simple and obvious. It isn’t, and rather than having a pop at the Church of England those posting might do better to read and engage with the arguments that the Church of England has itself put forward in its own report and comment instead on that.

Have the Churches engaged with Russia and North Korea? – Yes.

A more intelligent discussion is needed than has so far been demonstrated on this page.

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