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Religious Leaders Unite to Abolish Torture
Washington, D.C., June 12, 2006 – The general secretary of the National Council of Churches USA is one of 27 national religious leaders who have signed a statement calling for the elimination of torture as a part of U.S. policy.
The statement, “Torture is a Moral Issue,” to be published as an advertisement in the June 13, 2006 issue of The New York Times, proclaims that torture violates the basic dignity of the human person that all religions hold dear.
"There are few other issues on which the NCC's 35 member communions are more united," said NCC General Secretary Bob Edgar. "The use of torture or other dehumanizing measures is diametrically contrary to the love of God and the gospel of Jesus. One of the ideals of the United States is to stand in the world as a bastion against torture."
Shepherded by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the statement is signed by 27 national religious leaders, including Edgar; Rev. Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Theodore Cardinal McCarrick, Archbishop of Washington, D.C.; Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference; and Nobel laureates President Jimmy Carter and Elie Wiesel.
Other signatories include Dr. Rick Warren pastor and author of the runaway bestseller, The Purpose Driven Life; Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism; Dr. Frank Thomas, pastor and editor of The African-American Pulpit; and Dr. Sayyid Syeed, National Director of the Islamic Society of North America.
Dr. Glen Stassen, Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary and another signatory, noted, “Evangelicals are Christ centered, not that nobody else is, but we are, and the cross was humiliation and torture.”
Dr. Syeed said, “The Koran clearly emphasizes the dignity of all human beings that must be maintained at all costs.”
Rabbi Saperstein added: “All of humanity is created in the image of God. Torture is a profound violation of this principle.”
“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,” said Cardinal McCarrick. “Torture is a dehumanizing and terrible attack against human nature and the respect we owe for each other.”
NRCAT bridges theological and political divides by uniting mainstream Protestants and Evangelical Christians; Muslims with Reform and Conservative Jews; Orthodox and Roman Catholics; Sikhs and members of peace churches.
National, regional and local religious organizations and congregations have already joined NRCAT. NRCAT will continue the “Torture is a Moral Issue” campaign by encouraging people of faith across the country to endorse the statement by visiting www.nrcat.org.
See also the Web presentation on torture of The Riverside Church, New York, N.Y.
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