Thursday, April 30, 2009

Torture - May God have mercy on us!

I just learned of this CNN report from a friend. Here's the meat of the story, referencing a new poll by the Pew Research Center:

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

I have no words strong enough to express my outrage. I am ashamed to be part of the group "Americans who go to church" if that's what we look like.

as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Rom 2:24)

Perhaps we need to follow the example of Daniel (Dan. 9:20) and learn what it means to confess the sins of our people. . .


Jc_Freak: said...

One thought:

Correlation does not imply causation.

Most people who are ok with torture are conservatives. Most conservatives go to church. However, how seriously does the survey investigate into what kind of church life we are talking about here?

RitaBendita said...

It is no wonder. In the worst misapplication of Bible truth I have EVER seen, instead of resting in the ground until Jesus comes with his reward, Satan has us believing in a torturous hell fire. See for more information. If God would torture us, why should we not torture others.

God won't torture, and neither should we. God is a much better parent than we are - and none of us would burn our children for one second as punishment.

Study your Bible, or find a local Seventh-day Adventist church. I think they have these materials.

God bless.

Rita in B.C.

Mason said...

Wow, that is a very saddening testimony.

I’d echo JC in saying I think that has more to do with American social conservatism and nationalism than what they are taking from the Scriptures.

But still, it’s the association that people looking in from the outside make, that Christianity leads to those sorts of practices.

Dan Martin said...

JC and Mason, I'm not saying association denotes causation. What outrages me is that it is possible to exist in any church that claims to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, and not know with every instinctual fiber of one's being that torture is flat-out unacceptable. No, the church isn't the cause of torture--the problem is, it's also not the cause of opposition to torture.

Dan Martin said...

Rita, I think you have a point that some people who are obsessed with hell, seem to have a penchant for starting hell early for those they label as sinners. But one need not go to SDA to find believers who don't.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a Loma Linda grad and have dear friends & brothers/sisters in SDA churches. Just saying the light has reached further than just one denominational group. . .

peter1589 said...

How is it related? Torture here is nothing like torture hereafter, that's my point. Indignant as we are toward the torture of proven terrorists, who advocate the mass murder of not only Americans in 9/11 but daily each other and the Jews of Israel and anywhere else they may find them, why are we so lax in doing penance to ourselves here during this life, when Christ Himself has so ordered?

Quit worrying about the terrorists; they only receive what they advocate. Worry far more about our own sins, and do penance before the fire falls from the sky. Remember the Shoemaker-Levy comet hitting Jupiter? Coming soon to a planet under you for having elected as President the prime advocate for the greatest mass murder ever perpetuated upon the earth, 50 MILLION dead in American abortion, and we are too blind to comprehend it.

Pray the Rosary for peace!

Dan Martin said...

Guys, I've done something I don't normally do with the deletion of Peter1589's comments. I refer everyone to the ground rules at the top of the comments--I welcome honest debate and disagreement, but not completely off-topic rants.

I'm hoping not to have to moderate the discussion because I prefer a free flow of ideas, but I do want the ideas to have SOME sort of relationship with the topic being discussed.

Peter1589, I have not banned you. I welcome you to engage in the discussion, but please, even if you disagree with me, please disagree with what we're talking about.

Dan Martin said...

How is it related? Torture here is nothing like torture hereafter, that's my point.

OK, that's totally on topic. I vehemently disagree with you, Peter, as my series on hell and condemnation makes abundantly clear. But thanks for re-engaging with the conversation we are having.

I do think a couple of your assumptions require challenge:

1) Not all of the torture victims are "proven terrorists." In point of fact a number have been released with no charges and no evidence against them. . .after having been tortured.

2) Even if they were all bad (as I discussed here), torture is wrong and we have no business supporting or condoning it. "Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the LORD." We are to feed, clothe, and pray for our enemies, as our Lord Jesus commanded.

3) I do not dispute with you that the maiming of innocents includes abortion. But the sanctity of life does not stop at our borders, and it certainly does not stop when the fetus has left the womb. If the sanctity of human life means anything, we should be as outraged by torture, and "collateral damage," and the violence of our nation, as the most ardent pro-lifer is at an abortion clinic.

And if you want to pray the rosary, go ahead. I believe part of the Our Father, which is a significant component of the Rosary, is "forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Somehow I don't see torturing those who trespass against us, as filling that mandate. . .

E. A. Harvey said...

I don't know if it's causation or correlation, but I do know that this pop-folk-nationalistic religion that equates "being Christian" with "being American" and sets America up as "God's most blessed nation" is damaging whatever efforts the true Church in America is trying to accomplish. (I can't tell you how many e-mail forwards I get that combine the cross and the American flag together in some tear-jerking story about how God loves America more than those other guys, and it infuriates me!) We have an overinflated sense of what is just and what is fair, while we really need a better grasp of of what "loving our enemies" truly means. Granted, we can't expect our government to formulate foreign policy based directly on the New Testament, but as Christians, we should be the prophetic voices calling for true justice for the prisoner and the oppressed. Instead, we're the ones cheering on our government as it runs roughshod over the Geneva Conventions. God help us.

E. A. Harvey said...

Another thing that saddens me is how seldom I hear Christians (at least in my evangelical tradition) pray for peace. We pray for the safety of our troops (and we should), but do we pray for the end of the violence? Do we pray for stability? Do we pray for the enemies of our country? Do we pray for the innocent civilians in harm's way? And when we pray, do we do it with sincerity and compassion rather than patronization and superiority?

I was just reading over at Greg Boyd's blog about the new "Patriot Bible," so I'm a little worked up about this topic.

Dan Martin said...

Yes, E.A., I saw Boyd's summary of "The Patriot's Bible" myself. Highly disturbing.

Your question about why we don't pray more for peace is an important one. I'll have to address that in more detail at some point.


peter1589 said...

Our Lady's Peace Plan is the answer. See and click on the "read some pages here" link.

peter1589 said...

Rita, "God won't torture??" Why, then, did Christ Jesus say, "12:5. But I will shew you whom you shall fear: Fear ye him who, after he hath killed, hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say to you: Fear him."?

And, again, "18:34. And his lord being angry, delivered him to the torturers until he paid all the debt.

18:35. So also shall my heavenly Father do to you, if you forgive not every one his brother from your hearts."

Are you ready to listen, Dan? Are you ready to forgive and forbear, Dan? I am a witness to Hell!

Dan Martin said...

Peter, I am willing to forbear, but I ask you to moderate your combative tone. You're welcome to debate--really--but please chill out here!

In response to your actual comment:

12:5 "fear him who is able" does not state what he WILL do but what he CAN;

18:34 is a parable speaking of an earthly lord with no (necessary) link to the actions of the heavenly father; and

18:35 may support your point. Remember that Jesus' message here is forgiveness, not the precise outcome awaiting the unforgiving. Taken with the whole of scripture, I don't think the case for torturing punishment is as strong as you suggest, as my series on hell on this blog has previously stated. As I concluded in my series, I believe that one can find support for either the eternally-conscious punishment or annihilation perspectives in scripture, and IMHO where you come out has more to do with the baggage you bring in, than it does with an unequivocal message of the whole of the N.T.

Being that as it may, I would suggest that the eventual status of the lost is not a valid support for how humans should treat each other now. . .and that is the real subject of this post: it is immoral for humans to torture other humans, and it is shameful that Christians seem to be the least likely group to recognize this.

Jeri said...

Back to political/legal torture (rather than divine), I have posted a couple Bible studies on why torture is wrong, especially for Christians, and I have strong lashback from Christian Fundamentalists about how it is necessary to protect innocent Americans, and it's not really torture. I think learning to repent for hard heartedness and learning to confess the sins of our people are a very good idea. I am stunned at the moral relativism of those who insist they believe in the authority of the Bible. They actually don't.