From the Flying Nun to Maria Von Trapp, nuns have always been just a bit more badass than the average ascetic.
And the newest contender for “Naughtiest Nun”–apologies to your teenage sister’s slutty Halloween costume–is 83-year-old Megan Rice. This Wednesday, the Roman Catholic Nun was convicted of defacing a Tennessee nuclear weapons facility, along with a house painter and a homeless man, in what might be the greatest buddy caper movie never made.
Ms. Rice and two fellow protestors, Greg Boertje-Obed and Michael Walli, were convicted of interfering with national security after breaking into a nuclear weapons facility in Oak Ridge, Tennessee last July and defacing a uranium processing plant. The three protestors were found guilty of sabotaging the plant and of damaging federal property.
The plant makes uranium parts for nuclear warheads and dismantles old weapons. It is also the nation’s main storehouse for bomb-grade uranium. Which begs the question–if an octogenarian pacifist nun can pull off what the NYTimes referred to as “the biggest security breach in the history of the nation’s atomic complex,” just how nationally fucked are we exactly?
Defense Attorneys argued that the prosecution had been overly severe due to the embarrassment that the incident had caused.
“The shortcomings in security at one of the most dangerous places on the planet have embarrassed a lot of people,” defense lawyer Francis Lloyd told the Associated Press. “You’re looking at three scapegoats behind me.”
The defendants were in the facility for two hours, during which time they cut through security fences, hung banners, strung crime-scene tape and and hammered off a part of the cornerstone of the newly built, extremely secure (and dangerous) “Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.”
During cross-examination, Sister Rice said she regrets not staging a protest sooner. “My regret was I waited 70 years,” she said. “It is manufacturing that which can only cause death.”
This is not Sister Rice’s first rodeo: she has been arrested up to 50 times and has served six months in federal prison, an experience she credits with changing her perspective on life. “It was a great eye-opener,” Rice told the Times last year. “When you’ve had a prison experience, it minimizes your needs very much.”
The activists called themselves “Transform Now Plowshares,” which is inspired by a Biblical phrase. All three of the defendants said that they felt their mission had been guided by ‘divine forces’ in that they were able to find their way through the plant in the darkness without being detected.
“I believe it was clearly a miracle,” one of her co-conspirators, Greg Boertje-Obed, a Minnesotan House painter, said to the AP. “There is no other way to explain it.”
Mr. Walli, who has been homeless in ten states, concurred, “it was an answer to prayer.”
Mr. Boertje-Obed also explained why they sprayed–wait for it!–baby bottles full of human blood outside the facility.
“The reason for the baby bottles was to represent that the blood of children is spilled by these weapons,” he said.
Sister Rice is not the first nun to lash out against nuclear weapons. In 2003, three Roman Catholic nuns were sentenced to jail after defacing a Colorado nuclear missile silo–with, you guessed it, their own blood.
So there you have it. Nuns: love self-harm and biblical symbolism, not huge fans of nuclear weaponry.