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Monday, May 15, 2006

Christian Torture?

Monday, May 15, 2006.

Christian Torture?

No I am not talking about sermons.

I am astounded at my naiveté that Americans don’t do that kind of thing. Germans, Japanese, Russians Koreans and Vietnamese resort to torture. But Americans? NO! Our reputation as a nation was honored because we did not resort to torture. How could this be how could I have been so deluded? United State’s government propaganda has kept from the populace the horrors of nice Americans torturing people. Our tax dollars support American training facilities to teach torture methods to people from all over the world. I guess we give PhD’s in torture

Torture is inflicting pain and suffering on prisoners to obtain confessions or information from persons in captivity.

Why should I have been so surprised to discover fallen people torture each other?
Didn’t the Roman soldiers torture Jesus? Didn’t Christian Dominicans torture people to save their souls from heresy and damnation? Didn’t the Puritans torture alleged witches to gain confessions?

War movies showed Americans, Jews and women being tortured by our enemies. We never saw Americans torturing our enemies. Now it is all coming out. The present incumbent of the White House even justifies such horrific behavior. Scholars tell us the information and confessions received from torture are seldom worth anything. Jailhouse confessions where torture is proved are routinely thrown out of court.

People killed, wounded, tortured, gassed, beaten, brutalized are very popular forms of entertainment in movies, TV and plays. Children’s video games provide happiness to youngsters helping good guys kill bad ones. As a boy, I relished playing cowboys and Indians, cops and robbers and using toy weapons to kill and maim. I loved causing pain and death to my imaginary enemies.

A statement by the American Government told a U.N. watchdog committee that “all U.S. officials – including intelligence agents-are barred from using torture in interrogating terror suspects and other prisoners.” (SF Chronicle 5/8/09 p. A12) This is sure proof that the United States Government approves of torture. Our government lies regularly so I disbelieve any statement from the government. I assume it false, regularly.

I suppose I will believe the government when it shuts down the School of America at Ft. Benning, Georgia, where the doctorates in torture are offered. It has been re-christened The Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. “The institute has trained Latin American military and police forces in counterinsurgency warfare for more than 60 years. Numerous graduates have been involved in documented human rights abuse including rape, torture and massacre of innocent civilians in Latin America.” (SF Chronicle, April 20, 2006) San Francisco Roman Catholic priest Louis Vitale is in prison for demonstrating against the institute. Last November he joined 19,000 people at the gates of the fort in solemn vigil. He went inside the fort and was arrested.

What torture methods, you might ask? Forced nakedness, stress positions and threats; waterboarding, where prisoners are strapped to a plank and dunked into water until nearly drowning; are all popular methods. Also taught are beatings, pulling out fingernails, battering the bottoms of the feet and burning with cigarettes. But of course these are now announced forbidden, but are they still used anyway?

Just think, some nice American citizen, probably a Christian, sat down and devised these little horrors, thought them through, planned how they might work and then carried them out in the name of democracy when they caught someone. That is the American way these days.

Pity the poor American soldier captured by enemies who knows their fellow soldiers are tortured by Americans. This was why treaties were made between governments, to protect prisoners from such retributive torture.

What about us Christians? Where do we stand about torture? Some us believe that our fundamental belief in love and compassion, as followers of Jesus, makes us be unalterably opposed to torture. We believe in the” dignity of every human being.” We oppose the indignity foisted on others by the degradation and humiliation of torture.

I hope every layperson, priest and Bishop of our church speaks out against the use of torture by our military forces, FBI, CIA and all law enforcement agencies of our country. I hope we will continues to call for an end to the ultimate torture of war, which kills and maims mostly innocent civilians.

We have a new Bishop, Marc Andrus, in this Diocese of California We can urge him to use his position to lead the way in shaping and speaking out about our Christian morality and duty in the social and political sphere, especially to end torture.

Here are some websites about torture:

National Religious Campaign Against Torture

Pax Christi


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