Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Can Christians Affirm the Use of Torture?

Please forgive my lack of posts of late. My notebook's screen suddenly went dark, requiring me to ship it off to the 'puter doc. So, for the next few weeks, my access to the net will be limited.

A friend of ours has been loaning us complete seasons of the show 24 on DVD. It is an addictive program, with storylines that sometimes literally keep us on the edge of our seats. We're on season four now, and look forward to our evening installments of the adventures of Jack "Trust Me" Bauer.

One of the ethical dilemmas that reoccur throughout this show is when is it appropriate to use torture. As a Christian, I find myself wondering if torture is ever an option for us.

At last year's diocesan convention, a resolution on torture was defeated, primarily because of some of the wording within the resolution, but also because one member of convention stood up and testified that, as one who had formerly worked in government intelligence, the hard truth is that sometimes torture is necessary. Then, before anyone could respond to this statement (a statement that one could imagine Jack Bauer making through clenched teeth), someone who had become bored with the discussion called the question, and the resolution was defeated.

There will be another resolution against torture presented this year at convention. It would seem appropriate, if this resolution is challenged, to ask of convention the question; "Who would Jesus torture?"

Here's a resolution that was recently passed at the Annual Convention of the Diocese of Central New York:

RESOLVED, that the 137th Convention of the Diocese of Central New York submit the following resolution to the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church:

Resolved, the House of Bishops and House of Deputies concur that the 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church condemns the use of torture and the practice of extraordinary rendition, and calls upon the United States government to condemn its use in compliance with the Geneva Conventions and United Nations’ declarations regarding human rights and the administration of justice, and to enact policies to prevent its use both domestically and abroad.

RESOLVED, that the 137th Convention of the Diocese of Central New York affirm the resolution above, and direct the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC) network to implement the above as appropriate in its work in our congregations, as well as our state and local governments.
Are you aware of similar resolutions that have been passed by other dioceses?

Update: I've recently been asked to call attention to the new National Religious Campaign Against Torture. Please consider endorsing their statement and, if possible, contributing financially to the campaign.

This group grew out of a recent conference Dr. George Hunsinger organized in Princeton on "Theology, International Law, and Torture."

An article written by Dr. Hunsinger might be of interest; Why the Torture Abuse Scandal Matters.


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