Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Torture Poll

So, it does seem like everyone is talking about the "Christian/torture poll, so I thought I'd take a second to document the views I appreciate. First off, here is the poll (you can click to go to the Pew site):

One fellow blogger points out that:
"Christians have a long history of breaking out the hot pokers and thumbscrews when they're trying to root out the devil."

I remember running out horrified from a Medieval Times torture museum as a teenager. Torture is not a new invention. But just because we don't condone taking it as far as they did back then, does not mean we no longer torture. My first blogspot post was prompted by a radio program about Guantanamo:

Let's go back to what my conscience (and apparently sub-conscience) has been wrestling with. The program about Guantanamo, although fascinating from the start, did not immediately surprise me. It was only after I heard:

"We tried out many of our new interrogation techniques on Jumah Al Dossari...."

...that I stopped behind my living room couch, grabbing the back like a ballerina at a bar to steady my self. I won't quote the rest of the paragraph here, but when it reached the end...

"we smeared this blood [not his] on his face. We kissed the cross around our neck and said “This is a gift from Christ for you Muslims.”
I lost my grip on the couch and collapsed on the floor. This is being done in the name of Christ? "No, no, no!" I sobbed! This is not the government, nor the religion I want to be associated with!
And I am not alone. I am encouraged by the approximately 1 in 4 Christians the poll found who stated that torture can NEVER be justified! Much is being made of the others, but I believe the rest of us need to continue to speak up.

Someone who is doing this is David Gushee who wrote: A Christian's lament over the Pew torture poll. He addresses his letter to Jesus, and asks:

Is your church already empty of courageous leaders who are willing to lose their jobs in order to say a resounding NO to a heretical idea like that? Is it already empty of people who understand that if you are a Christian, you cannot serve two masters, like, for example, Jesus and National Security? Is it already empty of people who understand that because all human beings are made in your image, there are some things that we just can’t do to anyone, no matter who they are?

The answer, I hope, is NO. It's not empty of them, but aparently they have become a minority. I don't know what this means for the future, but if the comments on his editorial are an indication, it could be ugly. I suppose time will tell. Meanwhile, I hope the true character of the God I know, the God who is described as LOVE, can begin to shine brighter. Can we reflect that pure love out to those around us? We'll see.

Found another good point made on the Gruntled Center blog:
"Torture expert Darius Rejali found that people who are likely to support or commit torture are loyal to institutions. If the leaders of the institution say torture is necessary, the institutional loyalists are likely to accept that."
I think it's very important to be loyal to God and God alone. God is Love! As another friend told me today,
"Do NOT expect [religious leaders] to be infallible. They are human beings. Human beings are not perfect."
If an institution teaches something contrary to the basic truth that God is Love, then choose Love over the institution!


Anonymous said...

Great post! Fabulous ideas! Could not agree more!

Heather Ann said...


Kansas Bob said...

I like this: "choose Love over the institution".. well put!

I do wonder how we should love our enemies (and simple criminals) in jail? What would you consider basic humane treatment? Would you include A/C or TV? Would you be against hard labor or solitary confinement? Just wondering..

Heather Ann said...

I do not pretend to have all the answers, Kansas Bob, but I am not in favor of allowing criminals to freely walk the streets unpunished. I want to answer the question of why torture is never okay in a new blog, but the question of prison is different. I do believe that there are and should be consequences for our actions. God can forgive us the ultimate consequence - eternal death (not torturous Hell - in my understanding), but God does not remove the consequences to our choices. I even believe that death is sometimes an appropriate punishment. The problem with the death penalty is that it is so final, and our human justice system is so flawed, so human. Even without the inevitable corruption, human decisions are so often WRONG! How many innocents have been punished for another's crime? And why does it seem that our prisons are mostly filled with the "little guy" while the large players in a corrupt and evil world so often go scott-free? These are questions I really do not have answers for, and I am really glad I do not have the responsibility of deciding.

Kansas Bob said...

Thx for the reply Heather. The question of consequences IMO is a very difficult one.

I am against torture and the death penalty but think that life imprisonment doesn't seem to be adequate for the family of the victim who lost there loved one. I guess I can understand why the families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks might condone torture and want the death penalty.

Again, these are very difficult issues.. the current system of dealing with the consequences seems to be inadequate at best.