Thursday, May 7, 2009

Church-goers and torture

Get ready for a shock. It was to me to learn that 54 percent of regular church attenders, said that the use of torture is okay when used to gain important information from terrorists. This is last week's Pew forum finding. Weekly church-goers thought torture was justified "Often," (16%); "Sometimes," (38%); "Rarely," (19%), and 25% said torture is "never" justified.

After a few second thoughts, this news was not so shocking. If you read some of the e-mails I get every time I mention torture in a column you would understand. I receive far more letters trying to justify torture than those who see the danger. I have no way of knowing if the "fans" of mine go to church or not. But I do know individuals (from three different Protestant denominational churches) who go along with Jack
Bauer of the fictional Fox Network television series, "24".

One anonymous e-mailer responded that if Towery was a Christian, then he/she did not want to be a Christian. So it does not take a rocket scientist to presume that a majority of West Texans do not see the harm in torture. Actually they believe it works as former V.P Dick Cheney claims. I feel like I'm beating a dead horse to remind us that torture has no place in the American mosaic. It has given America the worst black eye since slavery. It not only harms the one tortured, but works on the one doing the torture. Ask some of them. More and more men who tortured individuals are coming out in the open to say they know it is wrong now. They can't sleep at night knowing how they treated another human being.

Arthur Schlesinger said, "No position taken has done more damage to the American reputation in the world - ever." Though the British tortured enemy captives during the American Revolution, General George Washington would not do it, thereby distinguishing this country by its humanity.

Torture brings Americans down to the level of the people who torture. It is not only immoral, but illegal. Just read how those who got the ball rolling for torture are now trying to cover their tracks. Such actions are a violation of international law and the law of the United States of America and the U.S. Military Field Manual. Take note that the God these church-goers worship said, "A new commandment I give you: love God and love your neighbor as yourself."

As Chuck Warnock, of Roanoke, Virginia, wrote, the story gets worse. Another survey of people who seldom or never attend church services are more humane in ethics and Christian grace than those who do! Only 42% of these seldom or never church goers believe torture is justified "often" or "sometimes."

You have probably heard of the legendary story of Coach Vince Lombardi who, after his team lost a game, came into the locker room and told the players they were going back to basics. Then Lombardi held up a pigskin, and said, "Gentlemen, this is a football."

This might be just what is needed in San Angelo and Tom Green County churches this Sunday morning. We preachers need to hold up the New Testament and introduce it to the congregation. "This is a New Testament and in it is the life, death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ --- the One whose name we have taken." We, who take that name are not to repay evil for evil. He plainly states, with no if, ands or buts, "Love your enemies."

Don't be fearful of looking "soft" on the enemy, think what you look like to a holy and righteous God.

Non-torture has worked throughout history, WHEN IT HAS BEEN TRIED. The Apostle Paul said Christians were free to do all things, but not everything was expedient, or necessary.


1 comment:

Jerrod Fishback said...

Mr. Towery,

Your article is interesting but seems to miss the real point of the matter: Why are Christians susceptible to such an egregious view, especially in light of the Biblical witness to which you aluded? It is evident that you believe torture is absolutely wrong, and that this should be abundantly clear to all Christians. Yet, I would argue that torture, as is the case with all ethical dilemmas, is far from clear within modern Christianity. As such, your outrage is misdirected.

The great variety of responses to the question of torture is the crowning achievement of Biblical critics, systematic theologians, and contextual ethicists, those whose work gradually succeeded in expanding Christianity beyond merely the pages of the Bible. As if Christians weren't already overwhelmed simply with Biblical interpretation, now the Bible itself has been rendered impotent, its authority ravaged. Theology is no longer derived solely from a thorough reading of scripture but from a multitude of different sources, including personal experience, reason, history, and tradition. Perhaps most troubling, especially regarding torture, is the fact that Christian ethical standards are no longer constrained by Biblical moral norms but are now opened to explore any and all of the possibilities that each situation provides; nothing is "absolutely" wrong, including torture.

In light of this modern context, is there really any wonder why Christians would have varying views regarding torture? Perhaps your outrage would be more appropriate if it were directed toward the environment that facilitates such ethical variety. As it stands, your article is just another in the long line of Christian ethical opinions, not necessarily the "right" view.