Thinking About The Unthinkable

Rising fears about the dangers of nuclear war

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Protestant churches have been equally outspoken. The National Council of Churches, which represents 40 million Protestants, supports a bilateral nuclear freeze. The 1.6 million-member American Baptist Churches declared in December that "the presence of nuclear weapons and the willingness to use them is a direct affront to our Christian beliefs and commitments." Even members of the evangelical movement, which has been generally noted for its political conservatism, have raised their voices against the arms buildup. Says the Rev. Kim Crutchfield of the Chapel Hill Harvester Church, a Pentecostal church in Atlanta: "We are not talking about Russians or Chinese or Americans, but people, God's children. It is right that Christians be concerned with nuclear war, because nuclear war threatens God's kingdom on earth."

Two organizations—and their leaders—exemplify the passions and concerns of the nuclear-freeze movement:

> Ground Zero was founded in late 1980 by Roger Molander, 40, who served as a nuclear-strategy specialist on the National Security Council from 1974 to 1981. He was closely involved with U.S. policy formation during the SALT negotiations. Ground Zero has a paid staff often at its Washington headquarters and 400 volunteers in 140 cities across the nation. The organization is strictly educational and takes no position on any disarmament proposals. As its founder puts it, the purpose of Ground Zero is "to pose the straightforward questions across the country as to precisely what is the reality and what are the dangers of a nuclear war." Molander hopes that Ground Zero Week (April 18-25) will be for the nuclear movement what Earth Day was for the cause of environmentalism—the catalytic launching of a mass effort to engage the nation in discussions on the threat of nuclear war. Although the focus of the week will be on seminars and lectures, the group is also mailing out kits to local coordinators with directions on where to place Ground Zero markers and details of the effects of a 1-megaton bomb dropped on their city or town.

Molander believes that the Reagan Administration has fanned fears of a nuclear war, but he is careful not to link his group with any partisan movement. Says Molander: "What we seek is a public active enough in the dialogue about nuclear war that they will feel compelled to work with the Government in coming up with solutions, whether it be disarmament, a freeze or some other option. The ball is rolling, and we want to give it momentum."

> Physicians for Social Responsibility was a moribund organization devoted to detailing the medical consequences of nuclear war when Helen Caldicott, 43, then a pediatrician at Children's Hospital Medical Center in Boston, took over as president in 1979. A zealous opponent of all things nuclear, Caldicott took her message all over the country, and her hellfire oratory soon attracted a following. Since then, membership in P.S.R. has grown from ten doctors to 11,000, and the Boston-based organization now boasts a 22-member staff, 85 chapters in 45 states and a $600,000 annual budget.

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