Faith Essential to Activism

Faith Essential to Activism February 4, 2011

Editor’s Note:  As part of our current Patheos Book Club on Adam Taylor’s new book Mobilizing Hope: Faith-Inspired Activism for a Post-Civil Rights Generation, we invited a handful of “modern mobilizers” to share their stories of how they are mobilizing hope in their communities. This post is from Tyler Wigg-Stevenson, Founder of  the Two Futures Project.

Nearly four years ago, I founded the effort that would become the Two Futures Project in order to engage orthodox, biblical, evangelical Christians in the work for the abolition of nuclear weapons. In our post-Cold War, post-9/11 world, the continued existence of nuclear weapons means that someday they will be used, with global and catastrophic consequence. The alternative is the verifiable and multilateral abolition of these weapons, which is a position now advocated by former Cold Warriors from both parties — including 2/3 of former secretaries of state, defense, and national security advisors. I was and am convinced that American evangelicals needed to have a position of integrity and fidelity on the issue, and to bring their passion and genius for communication to the broader public debate.

From an organizing standpoint, this is an issue that is very hard to have an immediate impact on, which is hard for a lot of activist-minded Christians. There’s a sort of “sinner’s prayer” mindset about systemic problems: i.e., I want to make a gesture right now that will make a difference and absolve me of complicity in the problem. But nuclear weapons don’t work that way. They’re a huge dilemma requiring sustained commitment over time. Not everyone is going to make this their life’s work — but we can advance the issue if Christians apply their faith to how they see global responsibility writ large.

We have been unapologetic about our overtly Christian, theological rationale. And in doing so, we have helped achieve some big wins, like the ratification of a new arms reduction treaty that cuts total strategic weapons by about one-third. But I have found that faith is essential to this work because the victories are seldom, and hard-fought. I have to remember — regularly — that this fight isn’t about saving the world with the efforts of our own hands. Instead, it’s a manifestation of fidelity to the Lord whose saving work is complete on its own.

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