Picture 1, Opponents of nuclear power massed in front of the White House this week to pray by candleight. By Ellsworth Davis -- The Washington Post; Picture 2, People pick up pamphlets at Mobilization for Survival Meetings at GW Uinversity. By Margaret Thomas -- The Washnington Post
A group of clergy and environmentalists brought their anitnuclear message to Washington this week with teach-ins, prayer services and demonstrations at the Department of Energy.
And while the group, Mobilization for Survival, said its national campaign has led to new levels of social action on the part of churches, local religous leaders disagree.
"I didn't see a handful of local pastors (at the Sunday and Monday activities)," said the Rev. Mamie Williams, pastor of Calvery United Methodist Church, who attended them.
Williams said that while some religious denominations have issued anti-nuclear statements," we [ministers] haven't educated the people in the pews" about the issue.
Mobilization for Survival, a Philadelphia-based organization, has been working for more than two years to put a stop to nuclear power, the arms race and the production of nuclear weapons, it also seeks to ensure that poor persons will receive sufficient heating fuel throughout the winter.
With the help of groups such as Clergy and Laity Concerned, the World Peace Tax Fund and the Fellowship for Survival spreads its message through publications and a few well organized national protests each year.
More than 800 persons from the East Coast heard a survivor of the Nagasaki atomic bomb describe her ordeal at Sunday's day-long teach-in. The audience, composed mainly of students, also listened to other civilians and veterans attribute their medical problems to their exposure to radioactive materials.
Following an interreligious prayer service Sunday, where Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist leaders lent their support to the antinuclear cause, more than 300 of the protestors marched silently to the White House where they prayed by candlelight.
On Monday, about 50 of the protestors blocked the entrance to the Energy Department in what organizers described as an attempt to "place themselves between the government and the next victims."
Despite the small turnout at the demonstrations Monday, the Rev. Robert Moore, general secretary of the mobilization, contended "religious leaders are beginning to take steps against nuclear activity that they never took before. Church involvement is reaching the levels of the civil rights and antiwar movements."
The Rev. John Steinbruck, pastor of Luther Place Memorial Church in Washington said he was disappointed but not surprised that he saw only a few local pastors at the prayer service. Local religious leaders "are very cool on this issue," he said.