Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Media Roundup on Torture

Torture and related matters are much in the news, now. I wrote further about it on the group blog of Mainstream Baptists. Amnesty International released a press statement on the terrible bill just passed. The Center for Constitutional Rights condemned the defeat of the Specter Amendment that would have insured Habeas Corpus. Ralph Nader writes that the big loser with the defeat of Habeas Corpus is democracy itself.

Richard Beehan focuses on a small part of the bill as an admission by the Bush admin. that war crimes have been committed, at the same time that it tries to give itself legal immunity from prosecution for those war crimes. Ed Kinane, rejecting Hugo Chavez’ contention that Bush is “the devil,” wonders if the real reason for this bill is to set a precedent for the torture of U.S. citizens, too.

In both the L. A. Times and Slate, articles ask whether Abu Ghraib pictures allowed Americans to “get used to” torture. Thus, Americans torturing in the name of “anti-terrorism” and “defending democracy,” has gone from shocking scandal, to controversial policy, to law.

I continue to argue that Christians should be united against this. We aren’t, to our shame, but at least the divisions are not between “liberals” and “conservatives.” Several conservative Christian leaders have come out against all torture including David Gushee of Union University in Tenn. (who made a strong case against torture this summer in, of all places, Christianity Today), Ted Haggard & Richard Cizik of the National Association of Evangelicals, and even (to my surprise) mega-church guru Rick Warren. Bryan Peters of the blog, The Young Evangelical, rightly says that this is not a liberal vs. conservative issue and is embarrassed that not all evangelicals are speaking out against torture. Meanwhile, Glen Dean, self-styled “Christian Libertarian,” and one of my blogging dialogue partners has not only defended the “harsh interrogation” of terrorist suspects (repeatedly avoiding the fact that these are suspects not found guilty of ANYTHING), but calls those of us opposed stupid, sick and disgusting.

For most of my adult life, I have considered war to be the biggest moral issue (though I have tried not to be “johnny one note”). I believed torture to be a settled moral issue. When practiced, including by Americans, it was done in secret because everyone knew it was both immoral and illegal and, if caught, they would be imprisoned. I never dreamed the day would come when I would have to argue against torture (like arguing that slavery is wrong–didn’t we settle this long ago?). I wonder if people who support torture need psychological and spiritual help more than they need more persuasive moral arguments. This, is clearly the moral issue of our day. Defeating torture, especially legalized torture by Americans, has become my number one moral priority. I feel like I have been transplanted back in time to the days of the Spanish Inquisition. Is this TRULY America 2006? God help us.

September 30, 2006 - Posted by | torture


  1. Earlier tonight I was watching a bit on 60 Minutes about teenagers who beat up homeless people (on many occasions killing them) and videotape it. The reporter seemed so dismayed that kids could do this. The whole time, all I could think was we’ve just sanctioned torture. This is exactly what we should expect kids to be doing.

    Comment by Wasp Jerky | October 1, 2006

  2. Wasp….man, this is sooo low.

    Really? I mean really? Are you truly blaming our Armed Service Members for murdering thugs’ behavior? As a veteran, this is not only angering but truly a low-blow.

    Can I then blame Hollywood and MTV for all of their ‘moral guidance’ in the rash of school shootings, gang rapes, and murdering drug addicts roaming our streets???

    I suppose the next creep that gets caught killing the neighbor’s dog or cat just for fun can just blame it on the local slaughter house or chicken farm that he works at right?

    By the way, the next time someone does a random act of kindness….say like, handing out free food, repariing a local school building, restoring electricity or running water, I guess we can ‘blame’ the same Armed Forces people and their Commander in Chief because after all, we’re only imitating what our troops are doing in Iraq and across the globe in about 60 other countries everytime a disaster strikes.

    Oh and another ‘By the way’, don’t get too focused on our “Troops” as being the culprit here; we all know the real ‘blame’ for these shootings is the gun manufacturers right???

    In fact, we need to start suing the manufacturers of ‘matches’ and ‘lighters’ for the rash of wildfires we’ve been experiencing here in the Northwest.

    Comment by Marcguyver | October 2, 2006

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