"Compromise on Torture Violates American Values" by Diana Gibson and Craig Wiesner

October 1, 2006

Source: The Mercury News

h ttp://w ww.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/opinion/15654177.htm

On October 1, 2006 The Mercury News published an opinion piece by Diana Gibson and Craig Wiesner, members of the Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice, "During the exact time that the so-called 'compromise' on torture was being discussed in Congress, religious leaders gathered in Palo Alto to make their concerns about torture heard loud and clear. Muslims, Jews, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Quakers, Buddhists and others shared prayers of repentance and intercession for our country at this critical time. As their 'Religious Leaders Statement Against Torture' was read, those present who had signed the statement stood in front of the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church. Over 150 religious leaders, local and national, and 17 religious organizations endorsed the statement, 'Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake on this issue.' Presbyterian pastor Ben Daniel reminded policy-makers who claimed Jesus Christ as their favorite political philosopher that in Matthew 25, Jesus said that how we treat those who are in prison is how we treat Jesus himself. 'Torture,' Daniel said, 'is a deeply religious issue.' A Japanese-American member of the board of directors of the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County spoke of his father, who was one of the 120,000 who were interned and robbed of their civil liberties under Executive Order 9066 during World War II. 'Fear is no justification for injustice,' he concluded. A Jewish U.S. Air Force veteran read from the military prayer book for Jews, a prayer for moral strength. 'May I do nothing that can bring dishonor on myself, on those I love or on any human being'... Soon after this gathering, the House of Representatives passed the bill. A day later, the Senate followed suit. They have authorized the president to declare people to be 'enemy combatants,' to imprison them indefinitely without charges, denying them the fundamental right to habeas corpus appeals to federal courts, to authorize acts against their bodies and minds that most decent people would consider torture, and to try them in military tribunals while denying them the right to see all the evidence against them or confront all of their accusers."