"The Christian must discover in contemplation, and in the giving of his life, those symbolic actions which will ignite the people's faith to resist injustice with their whole lives, lives coming together as a united force of truth and thus releasing the liberating power of the God within them." - James Douglass, Contemplation and Resistance.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Torture is Sin

The Catholic Workers have issued the following plea for moral sanity to the Catholic bishops of this country:

"Declaring that torture and war are sins, the group called on the U.S. Catholic Bishops to do the following:

• call for an end to the U.S. practice of torture.
• call for an immediate end to the U.S. war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• offer counsel to and support for conscientious objectors.
• call for the closing of Guantanamo and all secret military prisons and torture centers.
• call on all Catholics and people of faith to engage in prayer, fasting and acts of nonviolent resistance to stop torture and to end the war."

On Sept. 15, 2003, U.S. Army specialist Alyssa Peterson, 27, died by "non-hostile weapons discharge," according to the military.

"Her story lay dormant until longtime radio and newspaper reporter Ken Elston decided to probe further in 2005. On Oct. 31 he reported the following on her hometown radio station KNAU in Flagstaff, Arizona: "Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed."

"Elston reports on interviews with her colleagues, "The reactions to the suicide were that she was having a difficult time separating her personal feelings from her professional duties." Peterson was a devout Mormon. She is described by a friend as being "genuine, sincere, sweet - a wonderful person." Among the things she was ordered to do may have been waterboarding, recently praised by Cheney as a "nobrainer" that keeps Americans safe. As a Christian, I would rather be tortured than to be kept safe by torturing others. This kind of "safety" is a scar on the soul, a blasphemy against God's image.

Hear the voice of those who have known torture: "...torture is more than merely an abstract idea or a vague metaphor. Its reality is not just in some distant place or time, but exists as a feeling in my body. The tortures of my friends traumatized my nervous system, creating a scar. I go through periods of not thinking about it. Upon reading about torture, I remember." Shepherd Bliss, Torture Memories, CounterPunch, Nov. 4, 2006. How long before we have Christian leaders who reveal to us that torture is suicide, spiritual suicide?

"It is a terrible thing, to watch a bloody nightmare go on day after day after day -- and to know that it can be stopped, if only we faced the truth squarely. But we absolutely refuse to do so." If the bishops would speak out, then the truth could be faced squarely. If they fail to speak, then pray to God that the rocks and stones will scream out from the ground beneath our feet.

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