Sunday, October 01, 2006
Deep concern about torture by world religions
Posted on Sun, Oct. 01, 2006
Compromise on torture violates American values
By Diana Gibson and Craig Wiesner
During the exact time that the so-called ``compromise'' on torture was being discussed in Congress, religious leaders gathered in Palo Alto to make their concerns about torture heard loud and clear. Muslims, Jews, Presbyterians, Baptists, Methodists, Roman Catholics, Quakers, Buddhists and others shared prayers of repentance and intercession for our country at this critical time.
As their ``Religious Leaders Statement Against Torture'' was read, those present who had signed the statement stood in front of the sanctuary of the First Presbyterian Church. Over 150 religious leaders, local and national, and 17 religious organizations endorsed the statement, ``Any policies that permit torture and inhumane treatment are shocking and morally intolerable. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake on this issue.''
Presbyterian pastor Ben Daniel reminded policy-makers who claimed Jesus Christ as their favorite political philosopher that in Matthew 25, Jesus said that how we treat those who are in prison is how we treat Jesus himself. ``Torture,'' Daniel said, ``is a deeply religious issue.''
A Japanese-American member of the board of directors of the Council of Churches of Santa Clara County spoke of his father, who was one of the 120,000 who were interned and robbed of their civil liberties under Executive Order 9066 during World War II.
``Fear is no justification for injustice,'' he concluded.
A Jewish U.S. Air Force veteran read from the military prayer book for Jews, a prayer for moral strength. ``May I do nothing that can bring dishonor on myself, on those I love or on any human being.''
From the Council of American-Islamic Relations, Sameena Usman offered a prayer in Arabic and English, ``I pray that God will guide us all on the straight path, may God restore the sanctity of human life, may he protect people all around the world from the evil of torture regardless of faith, race or nationality, may he bring us all together in his fold of peace and justice.''
Soon after this gathering, the House of Representatives passed the bill. A day later, the Senate followed suit. They have authorized the president to declare people to be ``enemy combatants,'' to imprison them indefinitely without charges, denying them the fundamental right to habeas corpus appeals to federal courts, to authorize acts against their bodies and minds that most decent people would consider torture, and to try them in military tribunals while denying them the right to see all the evidence against them or confront all of their accusers.
September 24, 2003
World's Religious Leaders Gather in Kazakhstan
Condemn Terrorism and Call for Dialogue
U.S. President Bush and other political leaders pledge support
President Nazarbayev, who chaired the conference, said, "it is unacceptable to attach ideological or political dimensions to existing cultural and religious differences." He countered the notion of the "clash of civilizations", saying it would be more appropriate to talk about "a meeting of civilizations."
A total of 18 different religious delegations participated in the meeting from such diverse countries as Belgium, Britain, China, France, India, Iran, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the U.S.
Islam was represented by General Secretary of the Saudi Arabia-based World Muslim League Abdalla ben Abdel Muhsin At-Turki, President of the Islamic Knowledge University Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Khamenei of Iran and others from Pakistan and India.
Papal Envoy Cardinal Joseph Tomko led a delegation from the Vatican. Metropolitan Mefodiy represented the Russian Orthodox Church. Metropolitan Emmanuel of France led the delegation of the Constantinopol Orthodox Church. Rev. Dr. Ishmael Noko, General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation, represented the LWF.
Losantsyumay Tudanzyuezinima, Living Buddha and deputy chairman of the All China Buddhist Association, Jian Ziyui, first deputy chairman of the All China Taoist Association, Dr. Shantilal Somaya, Director of Shinto Temples Directorate from Japan, represented their faiths.
Jonah Metsger, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, and the chief rabbis of Belgium, Switzerland, and Russia led the delegation represening Judaism.
In the final declaration, the leaders said they would not "allow the use of religious differences as an instrument of hatred and discord."
"We shall strengthen co-operation in promoting spiritual values and a culture of dialogue with the aim of ensuring peace in the new millennium," the participants declared. They pledged to continue the dialogue on a regular basis and to meet again in Astana in three years.
The leaders of the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Russia, China, Egypt and other nations, as well as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, sent letters of support and commendation to the participants.
U.S. President George W. Bush said in his message to President Nazarbayev, "The United States strongly supports the Congress' objectives of deepening inter-faith understanding to advance the cause of religious liberty, expand freedom, and eliminate the root causes of terrorism."
"For the United States, itself a multi-ethnic and religiously diverse nation, these meetings underscore the importance of working with our friends in Central Asia to advance the values of tolerance and respect that form the foundation of democracy," the President added.
John F. Kennedy
The very word "secrecy" is repugnant in a free and open society; and we are as a people inherently and historically opposed to secret societies, to secret oaths and to secret proceedings. We decided long ago that the dangers of excessive and unwarranted concealment of pertinent facts far outweighed the dangers which are cited to justify it. Even today, there is little value in opposing the threat of a closed society by imitating its arbitrary restrictions. Even today, there is little value in insuring the survival of our nation if our traditions do not survive with it. And there is very grave danger that an announced need for increased security will be seized upon by those anxious to expand its meaning to the very limits of official censorship and concealment. That I do not intend to permit to the extent that it is in my control.
Address before the American Newspaper Publishers Association (April 27, 1961)