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Nobel prize stirs nuke, abortion comments

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–Reaction was mixed among the religious community after the world learned Friday that President Obama had won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Obama and much of the world community were surprised by the announcement, yet the Norwegian Nobel Committee voiced no apprehensions about the future of his presidency but commended him on what has been achieved so far in his nine-month presidency “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” including how the president has “powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations.”

A news release issued by the Two Futures Project, a self-described Christian organization for the abolition of nuclear weapons, Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, as saying: “I first heard the call for a world free of nuclear weapons from President Ronald Reagan when he addressed the National Association of Evangelicals over 25 years ago. The Nobel prize for President Obama acknowledges and perpetuates the Reagan vision.”

The news release also quoted NAE board member Joel Hunter, pastor of Northland — A Church Distributed, as saying, “The ambition to free future generations from the fear of indiscriminate destruction is a truly nonpartisan ambition that resonates with our deepest moral convictions.”

The news release stated that the NAE “has a long history of speaking out on nuclear issues. Its 1986 ‘Peace, Freedom, and Security Studies’ called for the need to balance disarmament goals with a concern for human rights and freedom. More recently, the NAE co-sponsored a 2008 consultation at the Hoover Institution with Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State, George Shultz, to explore the need to re-engage the nuclear issue in the post-Cold War, post-9/11 era.”

Bill Donohoue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, however, reacted to the announcement by saying in part: “Unlike another Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Mother Teresa, who said abortion was ‘the greatest destroyer of peace,’ Obama has never indicated that abortion undermines the cause of peace. Indeed, he champions abortion as if it were a sacred right.

“If he wants to pivot at this juncture, Catholics will welcome it,” Donohue said.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, in its announcement, stated that Obama has “created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. … Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.”

The committee also commended Obama’s for how “the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting.”

“Only very rarely,” the committee said, “has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that ‘Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.'”

Obama, speaking at the White House, said he was “both surprised and deeply humbled” by the award.

“To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who’ve been honored by this prize –— men and women who’ve inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace,” Obama said. “But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans, want to build — a world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history, the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it’s also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action — a call for all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.”

Obama is expected to accept the award Dec. 10 in Oslo, Norway, the White House said.
Compiled by Baptist Press editor Art Toalston.

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