Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Qualifications to My Last Post

After I put my last post here on the blog and in our church newsletter questioning where is the outrage of people of faith when it comes to torture, I did take a moment to visit the web site of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. I've signed on to this group's petition of people of faith who oppose torture and I get periodic e-mails from them. When you look at the list of prominent religios leaders who have signed on to the petition opposing torture, the list does carry an impressive group of names--including Sharon Watkins, the General Minister and President of our denomination The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). They even have a protest at the White House planned in June--attended by Muslim, Jewish, Unitarian and some Christian religious leaders--although the Christian ones represent groups and denominations that tend to show up for such protests (e.g. The United Church of Christ, National Council of Churches, etc.).

In no way do I wish to diminish the important work NRCAT is doing, because it certainly gives me hope that there indeed are people of faith out there concerned about our nation's use of torture. I guess I just wish there was more to report. The prophetic voice of the American church has surely lost its influence. I am pessimistic about the group's June protest getting any mainstream press coverage at all. Granted, mainstream press coverage is not the best measure of any kind of success, but at least people of faith who feel like I do would feel like our opinion was at least registering on the national consciousness.

I also noted in my last post that Christians on the Right side of the political spectrum tend to support the use of torture in great numbers. In fairness, I should also note that there are exceptions to this trend. Evangelicals for Social Action--granted they lean left but they still keep the name evangelical!--have adopted a statement against torture. Also, it is worth noting that an out-and-out fundamentalist has come out against the use of torture. Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Conventions Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, stated that he opposed the use of torture by U.S. officials even if they thought a suspect had information with implications for national security. I was frankly stunned by Land's stance, given that usually I disagree with just about everything he says and find his views repugnant.

There are exceptions to the silence of the church on torture, but they remain exceptions.

Grace and Peace,

Chase

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is funny how the left continue to condemn waterboarding terrorists who are hell bent on destroying anything Christian or Jewish, but at the same time there is no outrage for the beheading of Daniel Pearl or the many others who have lost their heads or lives to Muslim terrorists. God bless Israel.

Peep, we even have a president who has no problem KILLING babies in their MOTHER'S WOMB.

In these last days Peep, Jesus Christ is drawing a line in the sand. It is my prayer that you and your church are on the side of rightousness.

revpeep said...

Anonymous--thanks for your post, but something tells me that your and my understandings of what it means to be on the side of righteousness would differ somewhat. I never said that I wasn't outraged about many of the things you mention--the work of terrorists, etc.--but all one has to do is turn on any cable news channel to hear that kind of outrage. What I'm wondering is why you and so many other Christians whom I presume take the Bible literally have so little concern for Jesus' command to love your enemies. Love for them wouldn't mean supporting their violence, but I"m pretty sure it would include not torturing them.

Anonymous said...

Peep, the war we are in is a war that was thought that could bring a peaceful, democratic society to a ruthless Muslim nation and the men and women who fought and died in this war have shown more love than any of us could ever dream.

If extracting information from ENEMY COMBATANTS would save United States soldiers lives and bring a quicker resolve to this conflict, who are we to tell the military how to do their job Peep?

revpeep said...

Anonymous--

Who are we? Oh, I thought we were Christians who have a duty to declare God's love for each person even our enemies.

As far as "extracting information" goes, I'm all for extracting information, but I am against torture. There are plenty of ways to "extract" information from someone without torturing them, almost all of which are more effective and reliable than torture.

As far as "enemy combatants" go, you assume everyone who has been tortured in your and my name is one. I believe this is a false assumption. Even so, it is beside the point, because I feel sure Jesus' command to love our enemies means do not torture them.

I wonder, Anonymous, why someone who I assume describes himself/herself as "pro-life" is only interested in preserving the lives you deem worthy of saving rather than all the lives which Christ died for?

Anonymous said...

Peep, Peep..
Never once did I recommend that all ENEMY COMBATANTS who are in American custody be lined up for the firing squad. Not once.

Peep...I am against this war in the first place because I know that man has tried for centuries and centuries to make peace using bloodshed and has failed miserably everytime.

We are not going to have true peace until Jesus Christ returns to set up his millenial reign. Do you believe that Christ is returning soon someday Peep?

Heck Peep, I'm even against the death penalty believe it or not.

BUT Peep, If I am in the United States military and an ENEMY COMBATANT was witholding information that was vital to keeping my country, Air Force pilot brother, or any serviceman or woman out of harms way...I would use whatever means was at my disposal to make this individual more cooperative.

But like it or not, this is reality and we are engaged in war.
We are not over there to play Scrabble with these folks.

Thank you for your time Peep. But before I go, it is my prayer that you and your church stop clinging to the apostasy of evolution, pro gay and abortion rights. With world events unfolding at an alarming rate, we are nearing Midnight. And the wise know it.

revpeep said...

Anonymous--You and I may have to disagree on the particulars of the Second Coming, but I am glad to hear of your stance on capital punishment, war, etc..

I certainly agree that the stakes are life and death, but where we disagree is over the best way to approach them. I feel no assurance that our servicepeople can tell for sure between real enemies that are withholding information and others who are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I also have no assurance that torture works better than other less-violent means of interrogation. The moral clarity you presuppose doesn't exit in my book.

Finally, I believe some lines should not be crossed--torture is one of them. I recognize the hypothetical argument of a "ticking timebomb" such as presented in the stories of Jack Bauer on TV, but even were that hypothetical situation to occur, all the evidence seems to point to the idea that other methods work far better than torture. A tortured person tells you what you want to hear rather than the truth.

lneely said...

Did you know that the entire world is out to get the Christians? Don't you realize this is a war of good (Christians) versus evil (Everyone Else) and we have to mercilessly slaughter anyone who opposes us? God gave me the thumbs up on waterboarding, so it's okay.

*sigh*

Chase, sounds like a Whirled Nut Daily reader found you.