Archive on resisting torture -- # 3
March through September 2006
More recent items >>
For earlier postings on torture,
from November 2005 through February 2006 >>
June through October 2005 >>
We must still resist
Republicans pass legislation to allow torture – by whatever name
Yesterday the House passed a bill that would allow the Bush administration
to use interrogation methods that certainly look a lot like torture, even
though the President has been careful to call them something a little less
than torture. The bill also would allow the President to prosecute detainees
accused of terrorism, with little regard for the niceties of basic and
The Senate is likely to act soon on a similar bill, which
has been allowed to move forward because some of the leading Republican
"moderates" reached a compromise with Bush.
It seems unlikely that any mere citizens can resist this legitimizing of
torture and abandonment of basic human rights, but just in case you want to
try – or at least do informed grumbling about it – here are some helpful
Lawbreaker and torturer -- that's America, loud and proud.
Matthew Yglesias, a staff writer of The American
Prospect, reminds us of George W. Bush’s statement in 2003: "The United
States is committed to the world-wide elimination of torture,and we are
leading this fight by example." He also said then that "torture continues to
be practiced around the world by rogue regimes whose cruel methods match
their determination to crush the human spirit."
But now things have changed. With the "compromise" between
the Administration advocates of torture (nicely redefined) and the
"moderate" Republicans who oppose torture, the U.S. is placing itself firmly
among the rogue regimes.
Other countries, of course, practice torture in
violation of international law. As has now been clear for a while, we have
been in their company for some years. The latest twist, however, is that
we now won't show any shame about it. Rather than simply violating the
laws to which we have agreed to adhere, we're repudiating them,
simply denying that the standard by which civilized nations operate apply
The full article >>
Rushing off a cliff
The New York Times, in an editorial the day after
the passage of the bill, offers a good commentary on the politics behind the
bill’s passage, and "some of the bill’s biggest flaws."
The editorial >>
The National Religious
Campaign against Torture provides much good material, suggestions
for action, and more.
The Center for
Victims of Torture has produced excellent material based on their
years of experience in helping survivors of torture to recover.
The Presbyterian-based network
No2Torture is deeply involved
in the opposition to torture.
|Urge Congress to stand firm against
Administration pressure to permit torture
Both FaithfulAmerica.com, which is related
to the National Council of Churches, and the Friends Committee on National
Legislation, have issued calls for people of faith to raise their voices,
encouraging members of Congress to resist the pressures from the President
to legitimize the use of torture (which he may be moderating slightly in
response to the many Senators and Representatives, even from his own party,
who are refusing to support his efforts).
They both provide helpful information to use in writing to
FaithfulAmerica.org .... and/or to
Friends Committee on National
|Added action against
Religious coalition calls for ban on use of torture
Presbyterian-founded group publishes anti-torture newspaper ad
As Congress debates legislation this week on the treatment of military
detainees, a group of Christian, Jewish and Muslim leaders in the United
States has called on the U.S. government to forswear the use of torture
"without exceptions" and in all cases.
"Torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all
religions, in their highest ideals, hold dear," the leaders say in a
statement published as a paid advertisement in the Capitol Hill newspaper
Roll Call on Tuesday (Sept. 19).
Originally published in the New York Times on June 13, the
full-page ad is part of a new initiative by the Presbyterian-founded
National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), which says it is
working "for the immediate cessation of torture by the United States,
whether direct or by proxy, within our territory or abroad."
The group was founded by the Rev. George Hunsinger, a Presbyterian
minister and theology professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, in
response to allegations of human rights abuses at U.S. detention centers in
Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
See the full
story from Presbyterian News Service >>
torture -- and calling for CIA accountability
Witherspooner Rev. Betty Hale writes:
I would think the
Center [for Victims of Torture] would be one of the best sources of
perspective we can find.... It's still hard to believe that
America is having a debate about this
shalom, salaam, peace
As the Administration presses for more freedom to use
torture, it’s time to speak out together:
The Center is urging people to contact their
representatives in Congress, calling them to hold the CIA accountable for
the torture methods they have used.
And based on their own years of experience in helping
people recover from experiences of torture, the Center describes
what's really at
stake in the US use of torture, and what are realities involved.
The Torturer's Apprentice [9-8-06]
This week, with just two months to go before the national
elections for Congress and many other offices, the President has focused a
number of speeches on the issue of torture and the detainment – in some
cases at secret locations outside the US – of alleged terrorists.
There have been many reports and comments on Mr. Bush’s
speeches, including one wide-ranging essay by Ray McGovern. McGovern works
with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the
Saviour. He was an Army infantry/intelligence officer, then a CIA analyst
for 27 years, and is now on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence
Professionals for Sanity.
He notes the interesting emphasis in Bush’s statements that "military
necessity" justifies less-than-humane treatment of prisoners, and points to
the President’s apparent concern that Americans, including himself, could
well be open to charges of war crimes on the basis of the treatment of
The article >>
As Congress again ponders US use of torture:
publishes first report on torture at Guantánamo
with declassified primary accounts from current detainees and attorneys
On July 10, 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) published
the first report citing declassified primary accounts from current detainees
and their American attorneys to detail torture and inhumane treatment by
U.S. officials at Guantanamo Bay prison.
The "Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of
Prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba" is the most comprehensive primary source
account ever published of ongoing abuse at the prison, detailing systematic
physical, psychological, sexual, medical and religious abuse of detainees,
filling 51 pages and 279 footnotes. The report is particularly significant
in light of the Supreme Court's recent Hamdan decision because it catalogues
conduct by U.S. officials in violation of the Geneva Conventions, which the
court applied to detainees, and analyzes the administration's attempt to
create a "legal black hole" for enemy combatants in sections discussing the
administration's liability concerns regarding conduct at the base Geneva,
war crimes, and the forthcoming revisions to the Army Field Manual.
More from CCR >>
For the full text of the report in PDF format >>
Thanks to George Hunsinger
gathering – an infusion of energy and insight, new directions for action
The No2Torture network held a gathering in Chicago on June 2-3, and
Carol Wickersham sent these reflections on the event.
The Chicago gathering was an infusion of new energy, new allies and fresh
strategy. Our speakers brought deep insight and new dimensions to the issue.
From Christology, to politics, to legal and military concerns, we were
stretched and filled. And we were fed in spirit by wonderful music and
worship, and in body – with lasagna and more! For me, one of the most moving
moments was during worship when Adriana Portillo-Bartow shared what it means
to her as a torture survivor for the church to take action on this issue. As
I listened to her it was clear to me that discouragement is not an option.
We cannot give up on hope.
Over the course of the day and a half meeting we had about 80
participants, many of them new to the issue, or new to it from this angle.
But our coalition did not grow just in size; we also began to forge some
• Some are working on materials for a very accessible
congregation-friendly campaign that would include a poster, booklet and
• Others are looking at ways to increase the effectiveness of our
communication, both for decision- making and getting the word out. We are
hoping to produce a dvd with a set of study questions featuring two of our
speakers: Doug Johnson, Executive Director for the Center for Victims of
Torture and Adm. John Hutson (ret) Navy JAG, and Dean of Franklin Pierce
• We are also working toward building momentum on campuses, so if you
have contacts with campus pastor or student and faculty peace and justice
leaders, let me know and I will pass them on.
• We are also considering a future meeting in southern California.
Stay tuned for details and upcoming developments!
Of course, it is not our goal to create a really swell social movement –
though I have to admit solidarity makes everything seem more possible – and
lasagna doesn't hurt either. Our goal is not even to change public opinion,
though that must be forefront in our minds in all that we do. Our goal is to
be faithful to God by doing what we can to end torture, because torture is
an insult to the image of God in every human being.
I am grateful to our co-sponsors: McCormick Seminary, the National
Religious Coalition to Abolish Torture and First Presbyterian Church
LaGrange and to our wonderful planning team who pulled it off so gracefully.
I hope others will weigh in with their impressions and opinions. It is so
good to be working with you all.
|But some not-so-good news on torture:
Army Manual will skip Geneva Convention detainee rule
The Pentagon has decided to omit from new detainee policies a key tenet of
the Geneva Convention that explicitly bans "humiliating and degrading
treatment," according to knowledgeable military officials, a step that would
mark a further, potentially permanent, shift away from strict adherence to
international human rights standards.
The L A Times
Final list o#speakersf speakers for the conference:
• Rear Admiral John Hutson (Ret.
USN), Keynote Speaker, President and Dean of the Franklin Pierce Law
Center, former Executive Assistant to the Judge Advocate General of
the Navy. This talk on Friday evening at 7:30 p.m. will also be open
to unregistered guests.
• Adriana Portillo-Bartow, Deputy Regional Director, Amnesty
International and survivor of repression in El Salvador and Guatemala
• Catherine Gordon, Associate for International Issues,
Washington Office of the PC(USA)
• Douglas A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Center for
Victims of Torture
• The Rev. Jean Marie Peacock, Vice Moderator of the General
Assembly and Associate Pastor of Lakeview Presbyterian Church, New
• Luis Rivera, Assoc. Professor of Theology at McCormick
Seminary and Director of the Center for Latino/a Theology and Ministry
• Carol Wickersham, an organizer of the No2Torture movement,
Presbyterian pastor, Beloit College Sociology Faculty
Presbyterians urged to fight torture
Awareness Month' includes Chicago gathering [5-25-06]
See this story and
photos on the PCUSA web site >>
by Evan Silverstein, Presbyterian News Service
LOUISVILLE - May 24, 2006 – As the Bush administration continues defending
its treatment of terrorism suspects, Presbyterians and other faith followers
are being urged to participate in "Torture Awareness Month" activities in
A number of human rights, civil liberties and religious
organizations have declared the month-long observance to protest the
practice of torture wherever it occurs, especially amid growing evidence
that the United States government is systematically engaging in the use of
torture and inhuman treatment against prisoners held in connection with the
war on terror.
"The Presbyterian Peacemaking Program encourages
Presbyterians to identify appropriate ways to participate in Torture
Awareness Month," said the Rev. Mark Koenig, the peacemaking program's
associate for resources and publications. "Our confessions affirm that human
beings are created in God's image. Rooted in that affirmation, Presbyterian
General Assemblies have consistently spoken against the use of torture and
cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment."
Koenig said the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program (http://www.pcusa.org/peacemaking/)
is also encouraging Presbyterians to take part in the June 26 United Nations
International Day in Support of Victims of Torture (http://www.un.org/events/torture/).
The initiative is being spearheaded by the Torture
Abolition and Survivor Support Coalition International (http://www.tassc.org/)
(TASSC), a coalition of torture survivors from more than 60 countries. TASSC
is planning a number of events and activities during the month including
prayer vigils, fasting, education and advocacy.
Coinciding with the start of Torture Awareness Month, a
grassroots network of Presbyterians called the No2Torture (http://www.no2torture.org/)
movement will hold a gathering in the Chicago-area to demand fair treatment
for prisoners and to educate people about the U.S. government's questionable
The two-day event, which will feature speakers, worship,
and the stories of torture victims, will kick off June 2 at First
Presbyterian Church in LaGrange, IL.
Organizers of the symposium say that the use of torture
for any reason - even in the name of fighting terrorism - is immoral and
ineffective, a crime against humanity that cannot be justified.
"Torture is just an absolute violation of God's creation
of human beings in God's image," said the Rev. Kirsten Klepfer, a
Presbyterian pastor in Iowa who is helping organize the gathering. "Torture,
both for the person being tortured and for the person torturing, is a
violation of who we're created to be."
In January, the No2Torture group held a similar gathering
in Miami, FL, calling for an end to inappropriate detention practices. Most
of the 50 participants were Presbyterians. The turnout included pastors,
church members, military chaplains, college students and seminary
professors. For our reports on the Miami
Rick Ufford-Chase, moderator of the 216th General Assembly
of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), was a catalyst for the group's first
meetings during the 2005 Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference along with the
Rev. Carol Wickersham, a Presbyterian minister and sociology professor at
Beloit College in Wisconsin.
Christians are obligated as a matter of faith to speak out
against severe human rights violations such as torture, according to Luis R.
Rivera, an associate professor of theology at McCormick Theological Seminary
"The heart of our faith and gospel links us directly to
the issue of torture," said Rivera, who will speak at the gathering. "After
all, we live our faith and mission sustained by the memory, presence and
hope of a tortured Christ who through resurrection became survivor and
Rivera will be joined by other speakers at the event,
including keynoter Rear Adm. (retired) John D. Hutson, the former chief
Judge Advocate General of the U.S. Navy, a prominent attorney and the
current dean and president of the Franklin Pierce Law Center in Concord, NH.
"It's important to us (to hear) what the military has to
say about this because they are involved," Klepfer said. "His talk will be
an important piece."
Also speaking will be the Rev. Jean Marie Peacock, vice
moderator of the PC(USA)'s General Assembly and associate pastor of Lakeview
Presbyterian Church in New Orleans; Catherine Gordon, the associate for
international issues in the Presbyterian Washington Office; Doug Johnson,
executive director of the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis, MN;
Wickersham said in January that the PC(USA) has condemned
torture, specifically in a statement passed by the denomination's General
Assembly in 2004, but never "got up above the noise."
"This is a moral outrage, and the faith community's voice
needs to be weighing in on this," she said of torture.
United States Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-IL) will receive
the group's 2006 No2Torture Award, which recognizes the exceptional effort
of an individual or group that takes pragmatic steps toward ending the
practice of torture.
Durbin has co-sponsored legislation prohibiting torture,
including the McCain amendment that bans cruel, inhumane and degrading
treatment of detainees in American custody. He is also co-sponsoring
legislation currently before the Senate that would prohibit the
"extraordinary rendition" of prisoners to other countries that practice
McCormick seminary is among the event's co-sponsors along
with the Peacemaking Mission Team of Chicago Presbytery, and the National
Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a newly formed group organized
by the Rev. George Hunsinger, a Presbyterian minister and theologian at
Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ.
More than three-dozen faith organizations including the PC(USA) have
already joined NRCAT, which was launched during a conference convened by
Hunsinger at Princeton seminary in January. The group represents Christian,
Jewish, and Muslim faith traditions.
Religious leaders such as Ufford-Chase have signed up to
support the faith-based group at the NRCAT website: www.nrcat.org.
NRCAT hopes to convince prominent religious and political
leaders to endorse an ad campaign it plans to start up next month to raise
awareness about torture and to generate grassroots support for the group.
"We are gathering the forces that can and, I believe, will
make a difference," Hunsinger said.
Allegations of torture have dogged the Bush administration
since April 2004, when photographs of Army reservists mistreating prisoners
at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq became public.
Since then, evidence of other abuse has surfaced from the
deaths of U.S.-held detainees to secret CIA prisons with "unique"
interrogation methods, extraordinary rendition, and the torture of prisoners
at facilities run by the U.S.-backed Iraqi regime.
These revelations have sparked a roiling debate centered
on human rights, international law, and judicial argument.
"I think having Torture Awareness Month is a crying need
right now in American public life," Hunsinger said. "Torture presents a
threat to our national security and even to our democratic form of
government. This is no time for complacency or for turning a blind eye to
what is happening in U.S. detention facilities abroad."
Another group with which the No2Torture movement and
Presbyterian Washington Office has been working is Stop Torture Now (http://www.tortureawareness.org/).
The coalition of NGOs plans a daylong teach-in on June 25 in Washington, DC
that will focus on extraordinary rendition.
On June 26, the group will hold a "Lobby Day" where
activists will fan out across Capitol Hill to visit members of Congress to
seek their support for legislation that would end the use of extraordinary
For more information about Torture Awareness Month and a
schedule of events and activities, log on
For more information about the No2Torture Chicago-area
gathering, log on www.no2torture.org, or call (319) 268-1132, or by email at
For more information about events sponsored by Stop
Torture Now, log on
For more information about the National Religious Campaign
Against Torture (NRCAT), log on www.nrcat.org,
or contact Hunsinger at (609) 252-2114, or by email at
June is Torture Awareness Month in the
United States [5-16-06]
If the very thought of that saddens or angers you, you are
We urged Congress to pass the McCain Amendment banning
torture as U.S. policy, and it passed. However, when the President signed
the measure, he added a "signing statement," essentially declaring that he
could ignore it if he wants to.
We believe the Bush Administration's position in this
action is shameful and wholly opposed to the convictions of people of faith
and conscience in this nation. The world must know that America abhors all
forms of torture.
Thousands of persons and more than three dozen faith-based
organizations have come together to endorse a statement released by the
National Religious Campaign Against Torture. FaithfulAmerica has endorsed
this statement and today we are asking you to join with the thousands who
believe that Torture is a Moral Issue by endorsing this statement as well.
HERE to read and sign the statement.
Then pass the URL on to your friends and colleagues.
Other Efforts To Know About:
So many important efforts to halt torture deserve our
attention. Here are two: Our brothers and sisters at Pax Christi USA, the
national Catholic Peace Movement, has a national sign-on statement you may
wish to read and sign as well.
Here is the link. (Look for "A Christian Call To Stop Torture
The Torture Abolition and Survivors and Support Coalition
International (TASSC) are the sponsors of Torture Awareness Week.
Here's where to learn more.
Let's end this national embarrassment and help reclaim the
moral high ground on this issue. Thank you for your continued action to end
Blessings to you as ever,
Vince Isner and the FaithfulAmerica.org Team
|Moderator Rick Ufford-Chase
encourages people to join in the No2Torture conference in Chicago, June 2 -
I want to add my voice to the invitation to participate in
the Chicago No2Torture gathering on June 2 and 3
as a part of the beginning of Torture Awareness month. This is an
opportunity to come together to pray, learn, discuss and strategize as an
act of solidarity with those who suffer and as a witness to our faith.
Our first event in Miami in January was one of the most
significant events I've participated in during my moderatorial term. There
was a strong sense of unity among folks who probably found themselves
surprised to be in the same room with one another. I do believe that
gatherings like this one are one of the building blocks for the new kind of
church that builds a solid consensus and finds its voice in the broader
While you are together in Chicago, I will be participating
in a 75 mile desert trek following the route of migrants who cross our
border. Another important witness, though I'm sorry not to be able to be
I am very pleased that Jean Marie Peacock will be there as
the Vice Moderator of the General Assembly. I will be with you in Spirit,
while in body at the border, a different witness but to the same Lord,
tortured and made whole.
Rick, Moderator, 216th General Assembly, PC(USA)
Say No! To Torture
[revised version, 5-1-06]
All are welcome to attend a gathering on June 2-3 at First
Presbyterian Church, LaGrange, Illinois (Chicago west suburbs) to learn,
pray, strategize and network. Presenters include:
Rear Adm. John Hutson (US Navy,
ret.), President and Dean of Franklin Pierce Law School, former Executive
Assistant to the Judge Advocate General of the Navy
Catherine Gordon, Associate for
International Issues, Washington Office of the PC (USA)
The Rev. Jean Marie Peacock,
Vice-Moderator of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Ruth Barrett Rendler, Deputy
Director of the Center for Victims of Torture (CVT)
Luis Rivera, Assoc. Professor of
Theology, McCormick Seminary
The Rev. Carol Wickersham, No2
Torture Organizer, Sociology Faculty Beloit College
The gathering is free (an offering will be received) and
open to all who wish to make common cause; however, all participants must
register. People are welcome to bring sleeping bags to stay at the church,
or to reserve a room at a nearby motel. Meals and child care are provided.
For more information, or to register, go to
Who Is Jesus Christ for Us Today?
George Hunsinger, professor at Princeton Seminary and a
leading voice in the Presbyterian movement to oppose torture, asks in a
sermon, "Who is Jesus Christ for us today?" His answer is that Christ
today is found among the victims of U.S. torture.
He closes with an updated interpretation of I John 4:20:
"Those who say, 'I love God,' and torture their brothers or sisters, are
liars; for those who torture a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot
love God whom they have not seen -- and the same holds true for those
who turn a blind eye to torture or otherwise condone it."
The full sermon
The U.S. uses torture. We need to understand it.
Torture is nothing
new, but we need to learn more about it, including its long-term effects on
victims, its limitations as a source of information, and its corrupting
influence on those who use it.
The Berkeley Daily Planet reviews two
new books which help meet this need.
The review begins:
The Bush-Cheney regime may represent a
radical break with this nation’s traditions in many areas, but in making
torture a central weapon in its "war on terror," the current
administration is simply building on a body of theory and practice that
goes back more than half a century.
That, at least, is the conclusion suggested by two new books on the
modern history of American torture.
A Question of Torture, by historian Alfred W. McCoy, traces the
influence of "mind control" research conducted by and for the CIA in the
1950s in shaping the interrogation techniques used by American agents and
allies ever since.
Truth, Torture, and the American Way, by lawyer and human-rights
advocate Jennifer K. Harbury, highlights parallels in the practices of
U.S. government operatives and their local "assets" in the current
conflict and in the civil wars that wracked Central America in the 1980s
and early 1990s.
The rest of the review >>
Torture happens in the US, too, says Amnesty International report
Police target lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
people in the USA
"Nothing is more unfair than singling out a group and
making them criminal when they are not."
R. Boevingloh, a 60-year-old gay man, February 2004.
R. Boevingloh was walking in a park in St Louis, Missouri,
in June 2001 when he made the mistake of greeting an undercover policeman
who walked past him. He was arrested, charged with lewd conduct and placed
on two years’ probation. "I did nothing wrong," he told AI, "I did not
‘cruise’ anyone, did not expose myself, did not hurt anyone and was targeted
simply for being a gay male in a city park."
In a new report AI reveals a range of human rights violations perpetrated by
law enforcement officials against LGBT people in the USA. Whilst some of
these abuses are so violent that they amount to torture, by far the more
pervasive are those abuses committed day in and day out, making life
intolerable for many members of the LGBT community.
All too often US law enforcement officials share the prejudices prevalent in
society, such as homophobia, racism or sexism. When vague laws give police
officers the power to decide what is "offensive", the enforcement of these
laws can become a means of punishing LGBT people for perceived transgression
of social norms. LGBT people are frequently targeted for selective
enforcement of minor public order or morals offences such as "loitering with
intent to solicit","public lewdness" or "disorderly conduct". The California
Supreme Court, for instance, noted that the State’s prohibition of "lewd
conduct" had been selectively enforced against gay men.
Transgender women are particularly at risk of such prejudicial treatment as
many police officers assume that they are sex workers. AI has received
numerous reports of transgender women being stopped and questioned by police
when going about everyday tasks such as shopping. LGBT rights activists in
Chicago told AI that police officers see transgender women as easy targets
when they need to meet their allotted arrest quota.
It is hardly surprising that when LGBT people are victims of crime, they
often prefer not to report the crime than face a dismissive, hostile or
abusive response from the police. AI has found a pattern of police failing
to respond appropriately to crimes against LGBT individuals. Police lack of
understanding, or in more extreme cases hostility, has resulted in some
cases in officers arresting the victims of the crime rather than the
In July 2000 a lesbian in St Paul, Minnesota, reported to a police officer
than she had been attacked and abused in a supermarket. The officer refused
to take action and even threatened to arrest her and her partner. When she
told him that her attacker had called them "dykes", the police officer
replied that if they chose that lifestyle they must "expect some people to
have a problem with it".
Discriminatory policing can affect individuals in virtually every sphere of
their daily lives. The effect of police targeting of LGBT people can be
profound. Transgender woman Rachel Thompson told AI how a violent attack by
a police officer changed her life: "That is when I decided to become an
activist – abuse can be very inspiring… I will never forget to fear the
police. I will always mistrust the system…"
Read this on
the AI website >>
This article will be published in the April 2006 edition
of The Wire.
For more information see
Still demanding respect: Police abuse and misconduct against lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender people in the USA
from the Princeton conference on torture
We have reported
before on the conference on "Theology, International Law, and Torture," held
last January at Princeton Theological Seminary.
We are happy now to bring a more
detailed account than we have been able to offer before, prepared for the
Presbyterian Peace Fellowship by Lois Baker, Anne Barstow, and Tom Driver.
Since the Abu Ghraib prison scandal was
revealed in 2004, there has been considerable debate in secular quarters
about the illegality of the U. S. use of torture. This debate has been
dominated by references to human rights and international law. The
religious community, however, has not spoken out in a unified voice
against torture and has not made the case for its immorality. The
conference held at Princeton Theological Seminary Jan. 13-15 was a major
attempt to halt this silence by launching a national interfaith religious
campaign against torture. Here the language would be that of theology in
which religious groups could express the inherent wrong and sinfulness of
our government’s use of inhumane treatment of prisoners in its custody.
Ray McGovern: "I
do not wish to be associated with torture" [3-3-06]
Ray McGovern, who received a special commendation after his
27-year career with the CIA, has returned his medal and written a letter to
the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: "As a matter of
conscience, I am returning the Intelligence Commendation Award medallion
given me for ‘especially commendable service’ during my 27-year career in
CIA. The issue is torture, which inhabits the same category as rape and
slavery - intrinsically evil. I do not wish to be associated, however
remotely, with an agency engaged in torture."
TruthOut.com notes that "McGovern and
15 others took action [yesterday] in the halls of Congress. The 16 donned
orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by detainees at Guantánamo
Bay. They wore gags over their mouths decorated with one word - torture. Not
another word needed to be said as they walked the halls of Congress."
McGovern was one of the people present at the conference
on torture held in January at Princeton. See
their declaration against torture – and sign on to support it if you
For earlier postings on torture,
from November 2005 through February 2006 >>
June through October 2005 >>
ratified (or not) by the presbyteries
A number of the most important actions of the 219th
General Assembly are now being sent to the presbyteries for their
action, to confirm or reject them as amendments to the PC(USA) Book
We're providing resources to help inform the
reflection and debate, along with updates on the voting.
Our three areas of primary interest are:
which would remove the current ban on
lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender persons being considered as
possible candidates for ordination as elder or ministers.|
which would add the Belhar Confession to our Book of
10-1, which would adopt the new Form of Government
that was approved by the Assembly. |
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Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
politics, culture, travel, The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New
York City and the Queens neighborhood of Ridgewood by a progressive
New York City Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the
Witherspoon board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian
Church in Flushing, NY.
John Shuck’s Shuck and Jive
A Presbyterian minister, currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., blogs about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!