In 1865, several thousand native islanders from the fishing village of Urakami accepted Jesus as their Lord and received the Sacrament of Baptism from a French priest. Until this time, Christians had been worshipping secretly for nearly two centuries because of ruthless and intolerant emperors.
Thirty years later, Christians from this vibrant congregation began construction on a cathedral, the first in East Asia. Brick by brick, stone by stone, each church member sacrificed and contributed. Completed in 1914, the Urakami Cathedral (also known as St. Mary’s Cathedral) stood as a beacon of hope for Asian Christians on the island of Japan.
On August 9, 1945, clouds prevented an American B-29 airplane from dropping an atomic bomb on its original target, the weapons manufacturing center at Kokura. The pilot, following orders, changed his course and aimed the bomb “Fat Man” on the alternate target, the spires of the Urakami Cathedral.
At precisely 11:02 A.M., while a priest was beginning midday Mass, “Fat Man” exploded less than a quarter-mile above East Asia’s largest Christian church. 70,000 mostly civilian Nagasaki citizens were killed instantly; more than 8,000 were Japanese Christians. What Japanese Imperialism was unable to do in 200 years of persecuting Japanese Christians, American Christians did in nine seconds.
Combined with the destruction caused by “Little Boy” over Hiroshima on August 6, the death toll – immediate and over time – numbered in excess of 250,000 citizens, including children, pregnant mothers-to-be, and a devout Christian community. Days later, Japan surrendered.
With this war-ending act of civilian destruction, the United States became and continues to be the only nation in the world to use a nuclear weapon on a population (once, then twice).
John K. Stoner, a retired Mennonite minister and founder of “Every Church a Peace Church” organization, is willing to say what few of us are willing to think: “A country which has dangled the sword of nuclear holocaust over the world for more than [sixty years] and claims that someone else invented terrorism is a country out of touch with reality.”
Students in America’s classrooms are never introduced to the story of the cathedral. No one ever tells it. What we’re taught is that “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” saved lives, American lives. If a quarter-million Asian citizens, including a few thousand Christians had to be vaporized, so be it.
Maybe folding a peace crane is the least one can do in working toward a world where no nation, including our own, does again what we did twice. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9VF3gdf_Hk