.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}


Because wherever you go, there you are
Welcome NSA!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

"Christians for Torture"

What is it with with Christians and torture?

Setting aside the fact that torture has never been proven effective at coercing the truth, only at coercing confession, and that international law prohibits it, there is the moral aspect. After all, Matthew 25:40 says
Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
A recent Pew Research Center poll asked the following question: "Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?"

Those answering rarely or never included
Catholics 26%
White Protestant 31%
White evangelical 31%
Secular 41%
Total 32%
Andrew Sullivan's take on this?
Most disturbing to me are the high numbers of self-described Christians favoring torture: only 26 percent of Catholics oppose it in all circumstances, while only 31 percent of white Protestants rule it out entirely. If you combine those Christians who think torture is either never or only rarely acceptable, you have 42 percent of Catholics and 49 percent of white Protestants. The comparable statistic of those who are described as "secular," which I presume means agnostic or atheist, is 57 percent opposition. In other words, if you are an American Christian, you are more likely to support torture than if you are an atheist or agnostic. Christians for torture: it's a new constituency. Another part of the Bush legacy.
Also interesting is this quote from a National Catholic Reporter article:
During Lent especially, he [David Robinson of Pax Christi] says, the image of Jesus, who was tortured to death, should be powerful for Catholics, reminding them that "Christ is being crucified today through the practice of torture."

Also taking umbrage with her fellow Catholics was Sister Dianna Ortiz, a nun who was herself tortured in Guatemala by men thought to be connected to the American government.
Ortiz went to Guatemala in 1987 to work as a teacher in a Mayan village. She arrived in the middle of a long civil war... her only crime seems to have been teaching Mayan children to read and write, she was picked up in 1989 by members of the Guatemalan security forces, whose boss, she says, was an American.

By the time she was freed –– she believes because of pressure on American members of Congress to intervene –– she had 111 cigarette burns on her back alone. She was gang raped and thrown into a pit filled with human bodies, “children, women and men, some decapitated, some caked with blood, some dead, some alive.” And, she said, “worse than the physical torture was hearing the screams of the others being tortured.”

Having gone through that appalling experience, she has dedicated her life to fighting torture, helping to found an organization called Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International.

The organization’s mission is to support torture survivors, including the estimated 500,000 living in the United States, and work for the abolition of torture, which the organization says is currently being practiced by more than 150 governments.

She is livid about the charges of torture against her own government, and the apparent apathy of Americans.

“Where is the outrage?” she asked. “Where is the demand that this government obey its own law and the international agreements we have signed? Those who lead us must understand that to support torture -- either actively or passively -- repeats the brutality of the past. It puts us in the company of the Stalins, the Hitlers, the Pinochets, and the Argentine generals who also found ethically comfortable reasons for torturing.”

But the poll numbers on the number of Catholics who approve of torture really bother her.

“Whatever those polled may believe,” she said, “I am convinced in my mind, heart and soul that it’s our moral, religious and Catholic responsibility to not only speak out against torture but to do all that we can to end it. That’s what it means to be a Gospel people. Torture can never be justified.”

Holy Roman Catholic Church officials presiding over the torture of a man suspected to be a heretic before his subsequent execution during the Spanish Inquisition. Circa 1700 AD.


Post a Comment

<< Home