Home  |   Jihad Watch  |   Horowitz  |   Archive  |   Columnists  |     DHFC  |  Store  |   Contact  |   Links  |   Search Monday, March 19, 2018
FrontPageMag Article
Write Comment View Comments Printable Article Email Article
Vacation Hate-America Camp By: Mark D. Tooley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, June 23, 2008

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) has declared June 2008 to be "Torture Awareness Month.'  Churches are urged to hang a banner on their outdoor marquee insisting: "Torture is Wrong."

By "torture," NRCAT is exclusively interested in the detention techniques of U.S. forces with terror suspects around the world.  NRCAT is not very interested in the routine torture policies of countless regimes that torment not just the criminal but also regime opponents, among other countless victims.   According to NRCAT, about 300 churches have agreed to fly the anti-torture banner.  There are about 400,000 churches in America.

NRCAT is primarily an organizing tool for religious opponents of the U.S. War Against Terror and the Iraq War.  Participants include the National Council of Churches, the Islamic Society of North America, the Maryknollers, Evangelicals for Human Rights, and the United Methodist Board of Church and Society.  Although U.S. forces are legally prohibited from torturing, NRCAT insists that "torture" is a White House-blessed routine policy.  But NRCAT declines to define torture or to admit there is even a serious debate over the boundaries between torture and legitimate detention and interrogation policies.       

Last Sunday, NRCAT supportive churches were to have included an "An Interfaith Prayer of Recommitment" in their worship.  "Dear God of Many Names," it began.  "We honor your name when we courageously speak out against those actions that harm the soul of our nation, none more than the torture of body, mind, and spirit of one human being at the hands of another."  It implored on behalf of the tortured and the torturers, while concluding:  "And for those who would sully our nation's name out of fear, our hopeful prayers envision a new day, when leaders will find strength in the power of compassion and peace."

Naturally, NRCAT portrays its cause as wonderfully interfaith and non-partisan. "Torture is not a political issue," NRCAT President Linda Gustitis, a Unitarian, told The Washington Times. "It does not depend on whether or not you support the president or not, or a political party or not. We believe it is obligatory for people of faith to speak out against torture. Their silence condones it." She and other NRCAT officials asserted that some local churches were "fearful" about or intimidated from displaying anti-torture banners. 

Places of worship that have agreed to fly the NRCAT message are mostly Roman Catholic or Mainline Protestant, plus 27 synagogues, and several mosques.  The United Methodist Board of Church and Society's website boasts of several dozen Methodist congregations that will wave the anti-torture banner, almost all of them in the denomination's most liberal and fastest declining areas in the West or Northeast.  In solidarity, the Methodist lobby office it itself displaying the anti-torture banner from its prominent Capitol Hill building across the Capitol and Supreme Court.  NRCAT lamented that more evangelical churches would not fly NRCAT’s banner, even though Evangelicals for Human Rights has persuaded the National Association of Evangelicals to endorse much of NRCAT 's agenda.

Typical among NRCAT’s enthusiasts is the Rev. Chris Grapentine of Northside Community Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  “I come from a unique kind of community where the vast majority have never accepted George Bush’s rationale for war or his definitions of torture,” the activist pastor explained in an NRCAT conference call.  “We felt it was important to let our neighbors know in this community that we are not aligned with those Christians who seemed to support…the Bush administration’s policies even when they directly conflict with the teachings of Jesus, who specifically taught us to love our enemies.”   

In evident full agreement with Rev. Grapentine was the Islamic Society of North America’s Mohamed Elsanousi, who is an NRCAT board member.  “The Islamic community in NA is really looking to this issue of torture and it is really a very important issue to Muslims in NA because we value the dignity of human beings and consider that dignity the essence of humanity,” Elsanousi opined.  “If that dignity of human being is invoked [sic] by torture, oppression or any other means, than that means the entire of humanity is in question.”   

Sounding a similar theme on the NRCAT conference call, Rachel Kahn-Troster of Rabbis for Human Rights boasted that over 700 rabbis had signed her group’s campaign called, “Honor the image of God, stop torture now.” She eagerly anticipated seeing NRCAT’s message emblazoned outside her worship place, “knowing that when I enter the synagogue that I’m a member of that I will see this banner hanging really says that even on our holiest days we’re working to ensure that the image of God in every person is being honored and that the Jewish community is speaking out against torture.”

NRCAT President Linda Gustitus concluded the conference call by suggesting that the U.S. organize a post-Apartheid South Africa style “truth commission” to “address this immoral conduct, make amends for it, and then move on.”  In response to a media question, she made clear that NRCAT is not focusing on pro-U.S. regimes that torture, only on direct “U.S. sponsored torture.”  Presumably, discussing anti-U.S. regimes that torture was not even worth asking about. Gustitus estimated that “hundreds” are victims of U.S. torture and suggested that the U.S. has actually tortured eight persons to death.  She sourced her claim to New York-based Human Rights First, which intriguingly includes actress Sigourney Weaver on its board. 

The handful of congregations that NRCAT has enlisted for its torture month banner waving would indicate the campaign lacks broad appeal, though NRCAT member groups like the National Council of Churches routinely claim they represent “millions.” Torture is indeed odious to Christian and most religious traditions. But NRCAT’s bumper sticker claims about the
U.S. as a notoriously routine torturer lack moral seriousness and mindlessly echo the Religious Left’s anti-American obsessions.

Mark D. Tooley is president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. He is the author of Taking Back the United Methodist Church.

We have implemented a new commenting system. To use it you must login/register with disqus. Registering is simple and can be done while posting this comment itself. Please contact gzenone [at] horowitzfreedomcenter.org if you have any difficulties.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Home | Blog | Horowitz | Archives | Columnists | Search | Store | Links | CSPC | Contact | Advertise with Us | Privacy Policy

Copyright©2007 FrontPageMagazine.com