Storming the Gates of Hell: Reflections on Christian Evangelism in Nuclear Security Areas

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Date: 
Tuesday, 1 September 1981

Christian Century, Sept 16. [Repr. in Border Regions of Faith: An Anthology of Religion and Social Change, ed. by K. Aman, Orbis, 1987.]  5 pp.

On a clear, brisk predawn September morning in 1979, two dozen Christians gathered at the eastern edge of the sprawling Rocky Flats nuclear weapons trigger plant near Denver, Colorado. As they sang, six persons cut through a fence, and walked with flickering candles a half-mile over tough terrain to a hill overlooking the humming bomb factory below. There they commenced a “liturgy of light.” As the sun rose almost an hour later, the six were brusquely gathered into four-wheel-drive overland security vehicles and hauled off to jail. Citing the gospel in defense, they were convicted of trespass and served six months in Colorado jails.

On the feast of the Epiphany 1980, two “prayer commandos” climbed a fence and entered the Bangor naval submarine base near Seattle, Washington. For 21 hours they hiked through the woods on the sprawling property, unnoticed by patrol vehicles. Early the next morning, the two men clambered over a 12-foot double security fence into the maximum security weapons storage depot at the heart of the base, where guards have orders to use “deadly force” against invaders. The two Christian pilgrims were not fired on, and they proceeded to pray at each of six nuclear weapons bunkers before being arrested and taken away by marines armed with rifles. They have recently been released after serving one year in federal prison.

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by Ched Myers

All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.