A Confession of National Sin

Sin is often recognized from an ill effect on our lives and on those around us.  This ill effect leads us to examine our lives, to look back at events and behavior and say, here I went wrong, in this specific act I turned away from goodness.  This recognition, in turn, leads us to confess our sin and open our hearts to ask God for grace to change our behavior and to make restitution or apology where we can.

We acknowledge that is may be as true of our national lives as of our individual lives. We may recognize a pattern in the life of our nation that reveals in our national life the effect of such a sin.

Such a national sin happened to America at the first use of nuclear weapons on August 6, 1945.  Many of the ills and aches we have since suffered on far-flung battlefields and local neighborhoods can be traced directly to that moral lapse. We have heard the justification that by dropping the bomb we saved hundreds of thousands of American lives. But is it possible to suggest that the life of an American is, in the sight of God, worth more than the life of a Japanese soldier or civilian?

Something happened to the soul of America then and something must happen to the soul of America today. It is time to go up to the house of God that God may teach us the way of forgiveness and peace. Forgiveness from God must come first, but it can come only if we are willing to confess our sins. The position of power yielded the US by its possession of the bomb has led us to national arrogance and an attempt to dominate the whole world. It has not only given us this power but the arms race as well and the consequent affluence that poisons our lives and is poisoning our world environment. It has led us into further sin.

Therefore we, in the name of our people, now confess this sin, and seek pardon from a merciful God. We ask as well healing from the effects of this sin, and the grace to amend our lives, and the life of our nation.

We also ask the forgiveness of those most offended, you, the people of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and you, the people of Japan. To you we state sincere repentance and our fervent desire to make amends for our nation in whatever way we can.

For a theological background to the Apology, see: