RLCC comment follows this blockquote:

The deliberate torture of one human being by another is a sin against our Creator, in whose image we have all been created.  This practice should not be condoned or allowed by any government.  It must be condemned by all people of faith, wherever it exists, without exception.—Archbishop Demetrios, Primate of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

All of humanity is created in the image of God.  Torture is a profound violation of this principle.Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

The Qu'ran clearly emphasizes the dignity of all human beings and that must be maintained at all costs.Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director, Office of Interfaith & Community Alliances, Islamic Society of North America.

I'm concerned that we, as a nation, are unwilling to draw the line on torture.  We should be able to point to that line with pride.  To cross it would be to vacate our integrity and violate the human dignity of those whom we thus choose to victimize.Fr. William J. Byron, S.J., Loyola College, Maryland

My Christian faith does not allow me to compromise on this issue.  Torturing another human being, a child of God, is evil, plain and simple.–Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, United Methodist minister, former member of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Outgoing General Secretary, National Council of Churches of Christ, U.S.A.

What we must face squarely is this:  whenever we torture or mistreat prisoners, we are capitulating morally to the enemy, in fact, adopting the terrorist ethic that the end justifies the means.– From the article, "Inhuman Behavior: A Chaplain's View of Torture," The Christian Century, 4-18-06.–Rev. Kermit D. Johnson, Chaplain (Major General), U.S. Army, Retired.

If we condone torture, we yield the moral high ground to our enemies and encourage anyone who hates us to stoop to using that subhuman level against us. We reap what we sow.Dr. Rick Warren, Founder and Pastor, Saddleback Church.

There is a special dignity in every human being that comes from the fact that we are brothers and sisters in God's one human family.  It is because of this that we all feel that torture is a dehumanizing and terrible attack against human nature and the respect we owe for each other.–Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Emeritus Archbishop of Washington.

I have a heightened sensitivity to the torture issue because the central symbol of my faith is an instrument of torture.  While on that torture machine, Jesus cried out to God on humanity's behalf, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."  2000 years later, we still don't know what we are doing.–Dr. Leonard Sweet, Methodist minister and E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Drew University Divinity School.

I signed "Torture is a Moral Issue" [the Declaration of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture] because I understand the Christian faith to require vigorous efforts on behalf of human dignity, wherever it is threatened–friend or enemy, wartime or peace, my government or somebody else's government.  I also understand that evangelical Christians, of which I am one, have enormous power in this culture, and I wanted to put myself clearly on record against torture precisely as an evangelical.  I signed the statement because I believe the United States has a fundamental legal and moral obligation to refrain from any form of torture even as we also have a legitimate right to self-defense.  Finally, I signed the statement because I am very much concerned that torture, or acts approaching torture, are still occurring.–Dr. David P. Gushee, Baptist Minister, founder of Evangelicals for Human Rights, and newly appointed Professor of Christian Ethics, McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University.

The international community expresses shared moral belief through international law.  International law absolutely forbids torture, as well as cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment.  The United States was once fully in support of these international laws and the moral principles on which they are based. We can be again.–Mary Ellen O'Connell, Catholic layperson and Robert and Marion Short Professor of Law, the School of Law, University of Notre Dame.

In the years leading up to World War II, Karl Barth complained that the German Church wasn't awake to what was going on.  . . . "The church permanently finds itself in a state of emergency," he said, "but is often asleep at the wheel."  I worry that we similarly are slipping into patterns of national behavior about which the American Church is unaware, silent, or, worse, complicit.  I hope this statement on torture will help us wake up.–Dr. Brian McClaren, founding pastor of Cedar Ridge Community Church and well known author in the "Emerging Church" movement.

The Bible teaches that all of us sin, and power corrupts especially when dealing with the weak and vulnerable–which surely includes prisoners.  Biblical Christians know we need the restraint of law, and want to be law-abiding.  It's not enough just to be against torture; we want the U.S. to be a law-abiding citizen of the world, respecting international law.–Dr. Glen H. Stassen, Baptist layperson, founding board member of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America, longtime peace and justice advocate, author, and Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary.

If you know of other statements against torture by faith persons, please send them.  We must make our voices heard–and heeded.

RLCC Comment: While it is completely right and required that people speak out against torture, it is also equally important that the definition of torture be understood as a spirit that does all things antichrist. To say one is against torture but be against anything for which Jesus stood is hypocrisy and selfishness (one and the same). Therefore, upholding all the righteous concepts stated in the article above (and they are not all righteous) is to uphold the whole of the New Commandment. Are all of those being called leader here prepared to bring forth the Christian Commons?

Originally by Michael Westmoreland-White from Levellers on October 9, 2007, 8:08pm


The following should appear at the end of every post:

According to the IRS, "Know the law: Avoid political campaign intervention":

Tax-exempt section 501(c)(3) organizations like churches, universities, and hospitals must follow the law regarding political campaigns. Unfortunately, some don't know the law.

Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are prohibited from participating in any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. The prohibition applies to campaigns at the federal, state and local level.

Violation of this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes. Section 501(c)(3) private foundations are subject to additional restrictions.

Political Campaign Intervention

Political campaign intervention includes any activities that favor or oppose one or more candidates for public office. The prohibition extends beyond candidate endorsements.

Contributions to political campaign funds, public statements of support or opposition (verbal or written) made by or on behalf of an organization, and the distribution of materials prepared by others that support or oppose any candidate for public office all violate the prohibition on political campaign intervention.

Factors in determining whether a communication results in political campaign intervention include the following:

  • Whether the statement identifies one or more candidates for a given public office
  • Whether the statement expresses approval or disapproval of one or more candidates' positions and/or actions
  • Whether the statement is delivered close in time to the election
  • Whether the statement makes reference to voting or an election
  • Whether the issue addressed distinguishes candidates for a given office

Many religious organizations believe, as we do, that the above constitutes a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

That said, we make the following absolutely clear here:

  • The Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project not only do not endorse any candidate for any secular office, we say that Christianity forbids voting in such elections.
  • Furthermore, when we discuss any public-office holder's position, policy, action or inaction, we definitely are not encouraging anyone to vote for that office holder's position.
  • We are not trying to influence secular elections but rather want people to come out from that entire fallen system.
  • When we analyze or discuss what is termed "public policy," we do it entirely from a theological standpoint with an eye to educating professing Christians and those to whom we are openly always proselytizing to convert to authentic Christianity.
  • It is impossible for us to fully evangelize and proselytize without directly discussing the pros and cons of public policy and the positions of secular-office holders, hence the unconstitutionality of the IRS code on the matter.
  • We are not rich and wouldn't be looking for a fight regardless. What we cannot do is compromise our faith (which seeks to harm nobody, quite the contrary).
  • We render unto Caesar what is Caesar's. We render unto God what is God's.
  • When Caesar says to us that unless we shut up about the unrighteousness of Caesar's policies and practices, we will lose the ability of people who donate to us to declare their donations as deductions on their federal and state income-tax returns, we say to Caesar that we cannot shut up while exercising our religion in a very reasonable way.
  • We consider the IRS code on this matter as deliberate economic duress (a form of coercion) and a direct attempt by the federal government to censor dissenting, free political and religious speech.
  • It's not freedom of religion if they tax it.

And when they were come to Capernaum, they that received tribute money came to Peter, and said, Doth not your master pay tribute? He saith, Yes. And when he was come into the house, Jesus prevented him, saying, What thinkest thou, Simon? of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers? Peter saith unto him, Of strangers. Jesus saith unto him, Then are the children free. (Matthew 17:24-26)

  • Subscribe

  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 – present, website developer and writer. 2015 – present, insurance broker.

    Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration.

    Volunteerism: 2007 – present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.

    This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
    • Thanks for the shout-out and link to my blog, but your conclusions don't follow. On definitions: torture is never defined as "anything different than Jesus commands." Adultery is against Jesus' commands (and is clearly wrong), but it is not torture.

      There is no inconsistency between these or other faith leaders opposing torture and failing to want to impose a "Christian commonwealth." You are conflating very different issues.

      One does not expect a secular government to live by the standards of the Rule of God as found in the Sermon on the Mount. One DOES expect a certain minimum standard--such as refraining from torture and upholding international law.

      This distinction is biblical: The prophets would rail against the sins of pagan countries--but would hold Israel to a higher standard because Israel had been given the Torah, knew God, etc. Paul criticizes the church at Corinth for falling below even pagan morality.

      So, we don't have to expect any form of "Christian commonwealth" before we can expect leadership from Christians in stamping out torture.

    • Hello Michael,

      Welcome to the Real Liberal Christian Church website. The trackback (shout-out as you called it) and link are for networking sake. If we don't communicate, how will the truth ever get out?

      I have a qualified understanding of your starting place. Permit me to touch on ours in a way that addresses your comments directly since our comment above didn't make sense to you. Doing anything other than Jesus's commandments always ends up in some degree of torture. You, of course, are referring to something much closer to the current common usage of the term "torture," even though the mundane definition is always floating dependent upon a number of variables that only God knows, literally. Consider, however, that there is a context in which all abuse, offense, selfishness, evil, and the like results in harm, damage, etc., leading to pain and suffering in the end. That pain and suffering is tortuous. It can be long slow and imperceptible to the conscious mind without the greatest of attention. Nevertheless, the torture is accumulating. Consider the Chinese water torture of the drip on the forehead as a well-known example.

      All abuse regardless of the perceived source is from the evil spirit and accumulates and does damage and causes pain and suffering in the end (the cumulative result) unless overcome through God.

      If we look at a marriage where both parties gave sacred vows never to go outside the marriage but where one does, unless the other is impervious, the experience is often equated with losing a child. The experience is tortuous. The one who broke the sacred bond knew that it would crush and torture his or her spouse assuming the spouse comes to know. Regardless, the marriage will be negatively affected. Is it thoughtless or callous or both. It varies. Torture though is a matter of sensitivity, which we don't want to lose but rather increase.

      Now, many people aren't sensitive to things until it happens to them. We as Christians are to relate to and have sympathy and empathy for and compassion toward those who have or are or are about to undergo evil's destructiveness even though we have not experienced the same treatment firsthand. We are though to feel their pain. We are to feel Jesus's pain on the cross. Being numb to the feelings of others is exactly what's wrong with this world. It is Godless.

      We also understand how without having had the benefit of any time to overview our site and theological background you would assume we are for imposing a theocracy on unbelievers. We are not however. We also don't use the term commonwealth, per se, without qualification. We use the term commons. Commonwealth is as opposed to consolidation of power in the monarch who lords it over the commoners. However, it is not so firmly understood in the minds of the people to mean common ownership including below the aristocracy or middle class. We want to be sure that people understand that the Church is such that its members own it in equal shares and each also owns the whole of it.

      To be clear, we are adamantly opposed to forcing a theocracy on anyone. In fact, it is impossible to do. God doesn't force. Anyone who is forcing isn't bringing forth rule under God.

      As for secular government, we have no part in it. We don't agree with you, however, in having an expectation of a minimum standard below which the ungodly government would not stoop for the personal, private gain of the ruling elite. We expect they will because they don't have real love in their hearts. More is expected from one who has been given to understand. We don't expect atheists to understand the New Commandment. We don't expect them to believe in it and live by it. We are right to speak the truth that the New Commandment is the one and only way to believe and behave to be on the narrow way to perfection. If one of them sees the light of it, turns, and repents, then one of the lost sheep has been found and God and Jesus are full of joy in heaven. If we speak the truth and exemplify the New Commandment and they don't see it, there is nothing we can do about it. We certainly aren't to attack them and kill them. That's Old Testament.

      We definitely don't ever expect the Christian Commons from anyone accept real Christians.

      To be sure, the more voices against torture the better. That direction is right. What we are saying is that real leaders don't lead in hypocrisy. They don't say stamp out torture but turn around and condone other violence. A Christian will never speak against turning the other cheek for instance. As soon as one speaks against turning the other cheek, that one is antichrist. Can the person repent of it? Yes, of course. He or she must still understand that recidivism is frown upon. God knows our hearts. God knows whether we are in earnest. Those who fake repentance before human beings aren't fooling God.

      We hope you will take the time to study what we have to offer on our site.

      We are with you against torture more than words can express. It is sheer evil and never justified under any circumstances. Those who push for it are sick in their souls and ought to turn to what will heal their disease. They have not God.

      God bless you, Michael.