Surrendering the High Ground on Torture

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Another op ed piece in the Wasthington Post today (I'm visiting my mother in D. C. this week) was written by Eugene Robinson.  This one was titled "Torture Is Torture."  He first gives practical reasons why America should not sanction torture of our enemies.  But then he says, "We shouldn't have to talk about the practicalities of torture, because the real question is moral: What kind of nation are we?  What kind of people are we?"

I am encouraged to read such plain and clear opposition to the sanctioning of torture.  In my view, this is a watershed issue.  For America to sanction torture is to embrace a new level of barbarism.  For this to come from the administration of a President who openly names himsel a Christian hurts all the more.  So much for the "culture of life."  But just as concerning to me is this question: Where is the evangelical Christian opposition to torture?  Our silence on this issue undermines our status as defenders of biblical morality and surrenders the moral high ground to the liberals at the worst possible moment.
I realize that it is not always easy to filter through the media spin to figure out what really is happening at Guantanamo, etc.  But the question of the morality of torture should not be one that evangelical Christians find difficult to answer.  Torture involves inflicting savage violence against people who are at our mercy and are no longer able to threaten us.  Sure, we might benefit from the information gained by torture, but since when did personal advantage justify gratuitous violence?  Are evangelical leaders really unable to see the moral issues involved, or is (as I think more likely) our political alliance with the Republican Party simply leading us astray on this issue?  If the price of fighting for biblical morality in America means that we cannot always speak out for biblical morality, then perhaps we should rethink our tactics.

Whatever the explanation, I am reminded of the 19th century tragedy regarding the issue of racial slavery.  Part of the tragedy of that time is that many conservative Bible believing Christian leaders were so blinded by cultural conservatism that they accomodated slavery.  As a result, the abolitionist movement was largely led by anti-Bible liberals.  The moral high ground they occupied on slavery helped them gain ascendency over institutions like the Presbyterian Church.  Let's not let that happen again when it comes to the issue of torture. 
Posted September 19, 2006 @ 10:51 AM by Rick Phillips
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