Churches say UK would be better off without Trident
The Methodist Church, the Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church are calling upon the Government to ditch its Trident nuclear weapons.
They argue that the Government could save £55bn by axing the programme and invest the money instead in public services, employment and national security.
The cost of replacing the Trident submarines is expected to stand at £26 billion, while their maintenance and operation is likely to cost an additional £29 billion over 15 years.
As part of their "Better off without Trident" campaign, the Churches have launched an online resource explaining why decommissioning the UK's nuclear missiles would boost the economy and public services without compromising national security.
They say that the annual £3.7bn cost of Trident could be better spent investing in 15,000 more teachers, 300 new Sure Start centres, and 12,500 new council houses each year.
People are being encouraged to make the case against Trident to their MPs.
The Rev Leo Osborn, President of the Methodist Conference, said: “This is one of the biggest capital projects in the Government’s spending plans.
"We are being told that we must accept cutbacks in public services. At a time when the protection for the poorest in our society is under pressure it is surely wrong to tie up so much public money in nuclear missiles and their delivery systems.
"There is still time for the Government to say 'no' to Trident.”
Trident spending is expected to be debated around the time of the next General Election in 2015.
The Churches warn of the implications of becoming "accustomed to violence" and want to see the Government take a lead in international disarmament processes as a step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
The Churches voiced concern that the £4bn committed last year to a nuclear power propulsion system is already £2bn over budget.
The Rev Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, said: “In these days of austerity and severe cutbacks it would be extraordinary not to revisit the Trident issue.
"We fully appreciate the need for the country to have appropriate defence, but urge the Government to abandon this extraordinarily expensive project which relates to a defence context that has long since disappeared.”