Today I went along to the Faslane ‘naval’ base as part of a protest organised by Scottish Christian groups against the continuing existence of nuclear weapons – not just on the Clyde, but anywhere. It’s the fourth time I’ve been to the military settlement over the past few years, and so it was somewhat of a familiar place to find myself.
Today’s action was somewhat more passive than previous engagements, although that wasn’t necessarily solely down to the conduct of those that gathered outside the gates. Despite the presence of guard dogs and police with what I can only gather were automatic weapons behind the gate (I must confess to not being an expert in such matters, surprisingly enough), the overall presence of Strathclyde’s finest was noticably lower key than what we’ve come to expect. It does beg the question as to why our police forces take such a protest-friendly attitude when it comes to events associated with religious groups, versus their outright confrontational attitude for those that are not of such an affiliation, even when they are just as peaceful in nature. The fact that Cardinal Keith O’Brien of the Catholic Church was in attendance may well have had something to do with things.
It was encouraging to see so many people turn out, but also dis-heartening to see the average age… well above my own, it must be said.
What was also disappointing was the lack of creativity that permeates such actions. Having tried to become involved in past events and goings on related to the Scottish CND and receiving no response whatsoever, one does begin to question whether people involved in the hierarchies of power of such organisations actually want anything to change at all, or whether they simply enjoy and are so used to falling into the role of resistance that they see it as ‘their cause’ and no-one else’s.
Whilst we listened to those who spoke (or attempted to, given the miniscule size of the karaoke system deployed as a PA), with our backs turned, it seemed far more poignant to stand right at the fence and face those MoD officers silently; to stare back in defiance and challenging the morality (never mind the economics) of the base’s continued existence… as well as the overwhelming symbolism of force and aggression that goes with it.
Never the less, it was good to be part of a group of people who stand to believe in a radical Jesus that are not afraid to join together on issues that so many ‘Christians’ refuse to engage with or even consider important. I must say that any religious person who finds it acceptable to condone (or be indifferent towards) weapons designed to annhialate tens of millions of people at once fall far short of what I believe we are called upon to believe and uphold.
Would you believe that the Baptist Union of Scotland recently debated and refused to take a position on nuclear weapons? An association of churches who believe and follow the words of Jesus who have ‘no opinion’ about such an issue? It seems to me to be an outrageous display of cowardice and cultural irrelevance. Not really surprising for an organisation whose existence also seems to lack a defined and useful purpose mind you.
Hopefully next time there will be a whole lot more of us, and maybe even something a bit more symbolic than just listening to pre-ordained and chosen members of CND. This isn’t a criticism as much as it is a plea; a plea for people to grasp and take the opportunities to do more than just be seen as yet another feeble religious voice in the wind.
Photos all shot on the GF1 – the Hasselblad was also in attendance, and they’ll appear once I find time to develop them.