Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Just Say No to Torture

President Bush, reacting to a Congressional uproar over the disclosure of secret Justice Department legal opinions permitting the harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, defended the methods on Friday, declaring, “This government does not torture people.” (from NY Times - October 6, 2007)


The Rt. Rev. George E. Packard, Bishop Suffragan for Chaplaincies for the Episcopal Church, issued a statement September 15, 2006 that was delivered to both houses of Congress, reminding them of "the cherished values of our nation" in recognizing and upholding human rights.

"I want to be clear that we believe that those responsible for the violence and terrorism in our world must be punished for their acts and their disregard for human life," Packard said.

"I also recognize how difficult it is to ask that the United States deal justly with those who attack us. Yet that is exactly what we are called to do if we are to uphold the cherished values of our nation and to regain our credibility as a nation that recognizes and upholds human rights." (from http://www.episcopalchurch.org/3654_77890_ENG_HTM.htm)


Executive Council Resolution: Condemn the Use of Torture - March 12, 2007

Resolved, That the Executive Council meeting in Portland, Oregon from March 2-4, 2007, condemn the use of torture and the practice of extraordinary rendition; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council call upon the United States government to renounce and cease the use of these practices in order to be in compliance with “The United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhumane and Degrading Treatment or Punishment”, to which the United States is a signatory, and to enact policies to prevent the use of these practices both domestically and abroad; and be it further

Resolved, That the Executive Council call on the United States government to provide just compensation for the victims of torture and their families; and be it further

Resolved, That members of the Episcopal Church, including military chaplains, commit themselves to supporting U.S. military and civilian personnel who refuse to obey orders to practice torture or engage in extraordinary rendition or who face discipline for exposing such illegal conduct.

Explanation: Nicene Creed, we confess that our Lord Jesus Christ was a victim of state-sponsored torture: "For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried." Remembering our Lord's suffering for us, and in imitation of his example, we commit ourselves in our baptismal covenant "to strive for justice and peace among all people", and to "respect the dignity of every human being".

Consistent with this promise, the Executive Council of the Episcopal Church has adopted and promoted Amnesty International's program for the prevention of torture (EXC061, 1984). The use of torture is manifestly contrary to Christian faith and teaching, and erodes the credibility of the United States Government at home and abroad. This resolution calls for a renewed commitment to opposition to torture in all its forms and for appropriate care for victims of torture. Copies of relevant United Nations' declarations can be found at http://www.unhchr.ch/html/intlinst.htm.

Note: Extraordinary rendition is the practice of sending prisoners to other countries in which it is not illegal to use torture, as a means of bypassing our laws and constitution, which forbid torture.


Since we are still having the debate one year later about what torture is and what methods can be used, it seems like a good idea to remind our leaders to just say no to torture.

To find out how you can help, go here:
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture

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