Who Would Jesus Torture?

Lydia here.

Conservative Christian blogger, Rod Dreher, alerted me to this Christian conversation about torture.  In her RNC speech, Sarah Palin attacked Obama for worrying about such niceties.  I’m glad more Christians are challenging Palin’s comments–shouldn’t Christians be the first ones to oppose torture?  That’s not the message of the cross.  Or maybe I’m misreading the New Testament–I’m forgetting that part when Jesus rises from the grave and says, “Ha–now it’s my turn to torture Y’ALL!”

Then again, there’s my favorite Bible verse: “Greater love hath no man, than he that tortures the living daylights out of his enemies to make Americans feel safer.”

Or that chapter when Jesus tells his disciples, “Torture your enemies, and hunt down those that persecute you.  Lo, I send you out like wolves among sheep.  Truly truly, I say unto you, bomb their village into the stone age, so that all the nations may know that the kingdom of God is at hand.”

Yes, that’s right, those godless liberals can’t pick and choose the parts of the Bible that they want to follow.  Clearly, Jesus wants us to torture our enemies.  That’s why I’m wearing a band around my wrist that says “Who Would Jesus Torture?”  When someone asks me what it means, it gives me a chance to share the gospel with them…and then subject them to a good waterboarding!

Alright, enough of my sarcasm.  Seriously, parodying the gospel takes me to a very, very bad place…because it’s so close to what some politicians are actually saying.  Here’s Rod Dreher:

If you’re not reading Culture 11 daily, you’re really missing out. One of today’s best offerings there is Joe Carter’s “Open Letter to the Religious Right.” The whole thing is great, but this passage really caught my eye:

We religious conservatives must take a firm stand against the practice of torture. Yes, there is a legitimate debate to be had about what exactly is meant by that term. Let’s have that debate. Let’s define the term in a way that consistent with our belief in human dignity. And then let’s hold every politician in the country to that standard. As John Mark Reynolds notes, “Like slavery, it debases two people and one culture: the tortured loses his soul liberty, the torturer claims to be a god, and the culture condones an ugly and wicked act.” Our silence on this issue has become embarrassing; our apologies for such practices has become disgraceful.

Palin really should be pressed hard on this. In her convention speech, she had this line:

Al Qaeda terrorists still plot to inflict catastrophic harm on America … [Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights?

What did she mean by that? Does this indicate that she cares nothing for legal principles designed to protect individuals from the state? Does this mean that she supports waterboarding? What is her thinking on this matter? More importantly, what’s John McCain’s thinking these days? I thought he was against torture once. This is an issue that Christian voters can’t afford to be unconcerned about.

Anyway, please do read all of the letter from Joe, a religious conservative of the Evangelical persuasion, and a Marine Corps veteran. There’s lots of wisdom there. If you’re a religious conservative, tell me in the comboxes which parts of Joe’s letter you found resonates most.

4 thoughts on “Who Would Jesus Torture?

  1. I think you’re taking this way out of context. “[Obama’s] worried that someone won’t read them their rights” equates to condoning torture? Even allowing for party convention hyperbole, this doesn’t rise to that level. Give us a break. Rod Dreher is right on: let’s have the debate and press on. And, yes, I am a Christian.

  2. Welcome, Steve! You’re right that Palin wasn’t straightforwardly condoning torture. But what does it mean exactly to complain that Obama is too concerned about the rights of people in detention? It seems pretty obvious that if we Americans aren’t monitoring our government, those people are going to get tortured by people on our national payroll. So if Palin is getting up and accusing Obama of being too worried about rights, it seems to me to be pretty clear that she’s winking at torture. The message is, “I’ll keep you safe, I’ll do whatever it takes to make you feel like we’re humiliating our enemies, I won’t worry about their rights.”

    Is there some other meaning here? Because it seems to me that if we’re not making sure that the rule of law applies, then we’re opening the door to the Law of the Jungle, and you end up with Abu Graib. If Sarah’s mocking Obama’s concern for the rule of law…isn’t that kind of saying that she thinks torture is no big deal?

  3. It’s pretty obvious to me that Palin’s disregard for “reading them their rights” was thrown out as red meat for those who think that harsh treatment for suspected terrorists (whether or not they have been proven to be terrorists” is just giving them their just deserts. And if rendition to some regime which has no compunctions about torture is helpful in getting information, well, that’s just the way it has to be in the so-called war on terror. I suspect that if Palin were asked directly about torture, she would deny that she is pro-torture, but would not lift a finger to prevent it.

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