January 30, 2006

In Response

One of the problems with being a professional minister is that people often forget that our lives are informed by more than just theological concern. In a response Anonymous said, "Violence is not in the clergy's domain. The Christian, by definition should rebuke violence and hold all life sacred."I do weigh things against the Bible and my understanding of Jesus' preaching on the Kingdom of God. But, those are not the only sources for information used in making an educated decision on something. God gave human beings a brain for a reason. Science, psychology, sociology, and other disciplines all share a part in the formation of an opinion. (See the blog on How to Interpret.)

In response to my post True Justice, Anonymous also responded, "What if the torture of one enemy combantant could save the lives of fifty American troops? How about one hundred innocent civillians?"

Here are some of the more "secular" thoughts on why torture is probably not a good idea.

1. Torture does not net the truth. Yes, there are time when the information gleaned is helpful, but most people simply want the pain to stop. It is yet to be proven that torture, over and above interrogation, gives any thing of value.

2. With terrorists, pain and death are a means to heaven. The war on terror is dealing with a different military force, sociologically speaking. Any militant who dies or suffers in the name of the cause is guaranteed a place in heaven.

3. Those tortured become heros and propoganda. When a terrorist is tortured, their friends are only angered. When an innocent Muslim is tortured, their family members become terrorists. (Not in all cases, but very people are going to stand by while their loved ones are tortured without seeking revenge.)

4. Torture harms the torturer as much as the tortured. Not in the same way, but something inside a person is destroyed when violence becomes part of the equation.

Here is an article by Sen. John McCain, a Vietnam prisoner of war, from Newsweek. Here is a quote from his article, "The mistreatment of prisoners harms us more than our enemies. I don't think I'm naive about how terrible are the wages of war, and how terrible are the things that must be done to wage it successfully. It is an awful business, and no matter how noble the cause for which it is fought, no matter how valiant their service, many veterans spend much of their subsequent lives trying to forget not only what was done to them, but some of what had to be done by them to prevail."

I guess I also realize that if the American government has no problem doing it to the "enemy" they will have no problem doing it to me when the time comes. Besides they are often not even sure they have the "enemy."

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