A group of Christian activists will argue they should not be prosecuted for blocking the entrance to a nuclear weapons factory as they were merely acting out an "integral" part of their faith using the teachings of Jesus Christ.

The five members of the Put Down the Sword campaign group — Nina Carter-Brown, 33, Nick Cooper, 34, Angela Ditchfield, 38, Joanna Frew, 37 and Alison Parker, 33 — were arrested on suspicion of wilful obstruction of the highway after staging a demonstration outside the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) plant in Burghfield, Berkshire on 27 June 2016.

The protest, which involved the suspects using superglue and chains to block the road leading to the entrance of the plant which builds the UK's nuclear warheads, was part of a month of demonstrations by the Trident Ploughshares group.

The defendants are due to be tried by a judge at Reading Magistrates Court during a three-day hearing starting on 23 January. In their defence, the group will claim they were acting on their religious convictions and "following Jesus' example of non-violence" by staging the protest.

The group will use Article nine of the Human Rights Act which covers freedom of religion and Bible verse Peter 3:11 "turn from evil and do good; ...seek peace and pursue it", to argue that their actions were a "crucial part of Christianity in a world of violence".

One of the defendants, Ditchfield said: "The love of Christ compels us to act, to protect the world he loves so much, including people today, generations to come and all of God's creation.

"Our government's own guidance on freedom of belief says that the State must only limit the manifestation of religious or other beliefs, 'if such limitation is necessary on the grounds of public safety, order, health or morals, or to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of others'.

"In this case, we were actually pursuing all those things: public safety, order – in other words - peace, health, morals and to protect other people's rights and freedoms."

Another defendant Cooper added: "As a Christian, I strongly believe that conspiring to commit mass murder through nuclear weapons is a crime against humanity and against God. Billions of pounds are squandered by the wealthy on the ill-conceived idea that weapons provide security, while people worldwide face the real insecurity of poverty, disease, and a lack of education and healthcare."

During the trial, the defence team is expected to call on Oxford University lecturer Father Peter Hunter to explain the importance of resistance to nuclear arms to Christians. Hunter has said in the past: "Christians of very different hues have united in their opposition to nuclear arms. They are rejected by Christians of pacifist hue and their use and deployment are also rejected by many Christians who accept a Just War doctrine.

"As a consequence, it would be very reasonable for a Christian to conclude that they constituted a very serious threat to human life and to the environment, one which must be vigorously opposed."

The trial is the fourth and final case resulting from Trident Ploughshares' month of action. Previously, two protesters were given conditional discharges and a further five were acquitted with no case to answer.