Thursday, June 15, 2006

Religious Leaders Urge U.S. to Ban Torture

Twenty-seven religious leaders, including megachurch pastor Rick Warren, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel and Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, have signed a statement urging the United States to "abolish torture now -- without exceptions."





The statement, being published in newspaper advertisements starting today, is the opening salvo of a new organization called the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which has formed in response to allegations of human rights abuse at U.S. detention centers in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Titled "Torture is a Moral Issue," the statement says that torture "violates the basic dignity of the human person" and "contradicts our nation's most cherished values." "Nothing less is at stake in the torture abuse crisis than the soul of our nation. What does it signify if torture is condemned in word but allowed in deed?" it asks.

The signers come from a broad range of denominations and include notable religious conservatives, such as the Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Archbishop Demetrios, primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and the Rev. William J. Byron, former president of Catholic University.

By suggesting that recent abuse of prisoners may not be just an aberration but a reflection of U.S. policy, the statement contains an implicit challenge to the Bush administration, according to some signers.

Here

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