Wednesday, 20 September 2006

Christian Arguments Against Torture

That bastion of left-wing ideology, the magazine Christianity Today (founded by Billy Graham), came out in February in no uncertain terms against the legitimizing of torture in the war against terrorism. The article "5 Reasons Torture is Always Wrong" is available online, as well as a longer version on the website of the author, David Gushee.

In the article, Gushee lays out the moral problem, and the question of the definition of torture. He dismisses the idea that 9/11 justifies a modification of the long-standing American opposition to torture and outlines his five reasons, which I shall recap briefly here.

1. Torture violates the dignity of the human being.

2. Torture mistreats the vulnerable and violates the demands of justice.

3. Authorizing torture trusts government too much.

4. Torture dehumanizes the torturer.

5. Torture erodes the character of the nation that tortures.

And his conclusion:
We are tempted to follow the logic of a July 11, 2005, Time magazine cover story that said, "In the war on terrorism, the personal dignity of a fanatic trained for mass murder may be an inevitable casualty."

Yet we are queasy enough about this "inevitable casualty" that we do not want to call torture what it is. We do not want to expose our policies, our prisons, or our prisoners to public view. We deny that we are torturing, or we deny that our prisoners are really prisoners. When pushed against the wall, we remind one another how evil the enemy is. We give every evidence of the kind of self-deception that is characteristic of a descent into sin.

It is past time for evangelical Christians to remind our government and our society of perennial moral values, which also happen to be international and domestic laws. As Christians, we care about moral values, and we vote on the basis of such values. We care deeply about human-rights violations around the world. Now it is time to raise our voice and say an unequivocal no to torture, a practice that has no place in our society and violates our most cherished moral convictions.

I would urge any religious person (or non-religious person, for that matter) who thinks there is a justification for torture to read this article carefully. It is vitally important that we as Christians do not fall prey to moral seduction and betray Biblical standards.

Further Christian arguments against torture can be found in the post Truth About Torture on Ochuk's Blog, in which he summarizes and links to a Christian symposium on ethics that addressed the issue of torture.

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