Friday, July 31, 2009

Christians Largely Mum on Torture

By Ray McGovern
July 31, 2009

Anyone harboring doubts that the institutional Church is riding shotgun for the system, even regarding heinous sin like torture, should be chastened by the results of a recent survey by the Pew Research Center.

Read on.


James Young said...

Yeah, I guess when you spend all your time PROMOTING the sin of sodomy, it's difficult to pay attention to others.

Anonymous said...

I am not certain the reference to "Christians" is correct. True Christians (As I was taught) believe in non-violence, charity,not forcing their beliefs on others and definitely are against torture. The ones you reference, those silent or for torture, are not true Christians but Crusaders and hypocrites to the following of Christ as savior. The article is absolutely correct on the horrible silence of those God-fearing peoople.

George said...


Your grieving over purported poll findings and Christians' absence of empathy, "Christians Largely Mum on Torture", is understandable.

You likely more regularly travel among known "Christians" whereas I, at least for many years, seldom know the religious persuasion, if any, of those that I meet with and talk about such conversation killing topics as the general silence of lawyers regarding Obama once the constitutional law professor and Obama who now authorizes drones, has appointed Leon Panetta and Stanley McChrystal, and who seemingly has neither completed eradicated torture of the bad guys, save those on "our side"... nor felt that the tortured, whether good or bad guys, deserve their day in court.

My guess is that I encounter a fellow travelor, on the issue of the depravity of torture, in less than 5% of my controversial discussions: generally, those who seem to know something of what's really happening, best we can tell, don't care, and those who don't know, don't want to hear or be directed to any of many credible sources for their independent critique, and few among those who do care are willing to take any action at all, mostly out of a sense of futility.

Surely there are exceptions, but my recollection of the Catholic Church's practice in appointing leaders, from Mothers Superior to Fathers become Monsignors, Bishops and Cardinals, is that those appointed are not often notably religious, spiritual or among the best educated.

They often reflect the norms within their local flocks.

The problem is far worse than Christian leaders' penchant to remain "mum", it seems their empathic sensitivities, along with those they purport to lead, are numb.

It's been a while, perhaps a long while, since the ranks of insightful moral leaders were predominantly peopled with religious/spiritual leaders of any persuasion.

You may recall that the Dalai Lama was asked his judgment about Bush's fireworks in Iraq, aka "Shock & Awe". Initially I did not believe the response attributed to him: essentially, too early to tell....

Parallel to the Orwellian degradation of every day language, preeminently political speech, there's been a comparable degradation in religious language and beliefs: my jaundiced observation is that whatever may once have been taken as "true" among beliefs, few today understand the history or nuances of their religious affinities, and their behavior signals, generally, that there's not a dime's worth of difference between a rational maximizing secularist and the general run of religious believers.

Your critique of the shallow mantra "God Bless America", implied by your bumper sticker is apt for its illumination of those who mouth the mantra but may be insensitive to those who are not included in the blessing and would consider such inclusion a hollow gesture in any event.

I haven't given up on atheistic humanists, yet.... However, it's more than clear that the occasions on which most of us, in any numbers that could generate traction, will risk ourselves for the victims of war, torture, and unjust imprisonment or to lift a finger to avoid judicial sanctioned murder... are very rare.

George Collins

Anonymous said...

This is all about racism, including anti-Semitism which is a form of racism. Neither the National Council of Churches responded to my email complaint of their silence during the Gaza massacre. Note that the cartoon images of Middle Eastern mullahs, whether Arab or Persian, with their swarthy complexions, angry snarling expressions, ragged beards, complete with big noses and ears, are copies of original cartoons which date from the time of the Russian Revolution but then dressed as Eastern European Jews. That Jews in our media ignore if not perpetuate this racism, shows the depth of racism in the US media. Christians don't mind torturing Arabs, including Christians, because their anti-Semitism doesn't discriminate between Jews, Arabs and Iranians.
Joe, NYC

pipe said...

Great essay. Sort of a mini re-statement of Christopher Hitchens' book, God Is Not Great.
Its main theme is the sickening propensity of Religion to go-along-to-get-along with any murderous tyrant who appears, in any culture.
(Until Hitchens reminded me of the kamikaze pilots, who were brainwashed by the Buddhists, I'd thought that Buddhism was the sole exception. *sigh*.)

chmoore said...

Right on Ray! Keep saying it, loud and proud - proud of the true heritage of Jesus.

Count me in as one more Methodist outraged at the Church's sanctioning of torture, via the w library (lower case W and L intentional) at SMU - which by the way also sanctions the morally corrupt concept of pre-emptive, pro-active and unprovoked war resulting in the unjustified slaughter of huge masses of "other" human beings.

The Methodist bishops and trustees who approved this abomination would do well to realize, that the "...think and let think" statement by Methodist founder John Wesley does NOT extend to 'act and let act', especially when the act in question DOES strike at the root of Christianity.

Jesus Christ did not acquiesce to the prevailing political authority for the convenince of just getting along. Instead he...well frankly, he died; not to give us a waiver for our sins, but because standing in solidarity with the true morality of God is worth paying the price.

libhom said...

You are correct about most Christian Churches keeping quiet on torture. After all, the war on Iraq and the rest of our wars are part of a Christian religious crusade in their eyes.

However, you are going way to easy on Martin Luther. Luther was a venomous anti Semite who drew up the blueprint for Hitler's Kristallnacht.

Dean Taylor said...

On being "law abiding": the argument may be made that those who are determined to obey unjust laws are merely "law abiding," i.e., they may be taking the path of least resistance by conforming to what "authority figures" have codified--versus contradicting or resisting said authority. Said another way--and recalling the persistent plea at Nuremburg: "we were following orders."

To put this into context: Thomas Aquinas argued that if there is a conflict between what the Church--another "authority"--teaches and what one's informed conscience prescribes as the right course of action or behavior that we are, in fact, OBLIGATED to follow our CONSCIENCE in matter of ethics, morality, etc., i.e., in matters of "right and wrong."

Conclusion: if we decide to resist or contradict institutional authority--i.e., disobey unjust laws for reasons of conscience--then we are outside man's laws, but the opportunity for authentic morality then comes to the fore.

Anonymous said...

Somebody famous was killed. Somebody famous was put to death by Capital Punishment and they were tortured first-- before the State put them to death. For just being suspected of...Jesus who was that?

1stProtestinTheStreet said...

I reluctantly but finally gave up on the Catholic Church after the revelations of sexual abuse.

Their ignoring of torture will do nothing to bring me back to the fold.

The cover up must stop. All pastors need to call for an end to torture.

Prosecute all those that tortured in our name, then go after all the other Federal Crimes and violations of our Constitution committed by Bush and Cheney.

both a Commission of Inquiry
and a Special Prosecutor
For All Their Crimes


Jack Moriarty said...

Comment from my father, to whom I forwarded Mr. McGovern's excellent article:

"While I agree almost totally with this, I think some qualification should be made regarding the pope's response to Hitler and Nazism. In March 1937 Pope Pius XI wrote an encyclical Mit Brennender Sorge (with burning sorrow, or apprehension, or grief), in the German language (the only oencyclical I've heard of not written in Latin). It castigated Nazi racism and other Nazi practices and beliefs, was smuggled into Germany and read from the pulpits of all the Catholic churches. The Nazis were furious and stepped up their persecution of the Catholic Church. Possibly the Church should have done more in succeeding years, but it definitely did not sit silent while Hitler was increasing his crimes."

Jack Moriarty