A Nun’s Rebellion

by: Veronique Hoebeke

August 20, 2012

On July 28th, three people broke in to the Y-12 Nuclear Facility in Oak Ridge,Tennessee and tagged the walls with antinuclear phrases. It may surprise many people to learn that one of these trespassers was 82 year-old Catholic nun, Sister Megan Rice. This wasn’t Sister Rice’s first run-in with the law; she has been already arrested over forty times and served a brief prison sentence. Sister Rice has been passionately protesting against nuclear weapons since the 1980′s.

Sister Megan Rice Wild magazine

Since the incident, Sister Rice has been in the news quite a bit. She, reportedly, doesn’t like to bring her personal biography into the story. She believes it distracts from the real issue at hand. Along with many other antinuclear activists, she feels that priorities of the government’s budget are quite unbalanced. These nuclear facilities are expensive, and take $52.4 billion to keep our nations nuclear weaponry up and running. To put this in perspective: federal spending on education is about $14 million, with disaster relief only at little over $8 million. It is not the inequality of funds that really upsets these pacifist protesters however, it is the fact that billions are being spent on the deadliest and most terrifying weapons that human kind has ever developed.

Sister Rice and her two male accomplices scrawled “Swords into plowshares” on the walls of the Y-12 facilities. This is in reference to the Bible verse Isaiah 2:4 which calls for peace amongst nations. She is not the first religious person to protest nuclear warfare — an 84 year-old priest was arrested last year for trespassing on the same nuclear facility site.

Many are surprised at the behaviors of religiously devote people. It seems like people expect or even assume that priests or nuns are docile in nature and would never lead a risky protest. That is where they are wrong. Sister Rice proudly says that as nuns they are “free as larks, we have no responsibilities – no kids, no grandkids, no job.” Since the church financially supports nuns and priests, it allows these religious people ability to protest without the worries of providing for themselves or their family. The Vatican, on the other hand, has berated Sister Rice for her rebellious behavior.

The Cardinals of the Vatican have recently taken issue with sisters who are too outspoken for their liking. Earlier this summer, The Vatican declared that the members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious had “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The sisters in the Leadership Conference spoke out on their options of the male-only priesthood, contraception and homosexuality. This led the organization to be subject to inspection by the Vatican simply because The Cardinals did not want their nuns speaking about anything that would challenge the current status quo.

Sister Rice definitely challenged the status quo, the Vatican, and the government. She awaits trail in October for her trespassing and destruction of government property. Hopefully, Sister Rice’s stance on Nuclear weapons is heard around the globe causing both leaders and citizens to rethink the moral implication of having such destructive powers.


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