Torture is a Moral Issue: Palo Alto Conference Report

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MVPJ sponsored this event in 2009:  The Friday night panel was moderated by David DeCosse, Director of Campus Ethics Programs for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.  He began the evening by posing the questions, "How do people of faith speak in the American public square about the issue of torture?  How is it possible to persuade fellow citizens ... that torture is wrong and that the soul of the United States is at stake...?"

"Our nation needs pastors and other religious leaders who are willing to stand up and to speak in a prophetic voice:  'Thus saith the LORD.  Torture is sin.  It's not just illegal under US and international law, it's not just a violation of human rights, it is fundamentally immoral.  Torture is immoral because it violates the image of God in another human being. ... To torture someone is to sin against God, against a fellow human being, and against one's self, so woe unto you who torture,'" declared Rev. Ben Daniel in his address on June 26, as part of the "Torture is a Moral Issue" conference sponsored by Multifaith Voices for Peace and Justice and many others.

"Just reading the Constitution brings tears to my eyes.  I have this view of America as trying to get it right," sang John Crigler, using the words of a former Army Interrogator.

"Torture is always and everywhere wrong. ... Still, given the poll taken by the Pew Survey published in April of this year, we still have a long way to go. That survey showed that those who label themselves as religious are more likely to support torture as a national security measure; and that practicing, worshiping believers are most vehement. Friends, I hope we go away from this day with the tools we need to turn this around. We are not in a position to speak the truth to power, unless we first tell it to the not-so-powerful, to ourselves and those standing next us at coffee hour," urged Rev. Carol Wickersham, founder of No2Torture.

"I'm an interrogator.  This is what the face of an interrogation looks like.  I've been not torturing for 16 years. The interrogators I've worked with, the interrogators I've trained, know that torture doesn't work.  They know that torture is counterproductive.  They know that torture is immoral," explained Terrence Karney, a former Army Interrogator and Trainer.  [; Click here] to hear Karney's Friday evening remarks on youtube.

To download copies of their presentations, or access videos, click "read more" below.

Simply click below to watch a video on youtube or download a PDF copy of a presentation:
Opening remarks by David DeCosse
Panel presentation by Ben Daniel
[;Video of Terrence Karney's Friday panel presentation]
[;Video of Ray McGovern's Friday panel presentation]
Saturday keynote by Carol Wickersham
Homily from closing Multifaith worship by Rita Nakashima Brock
[;Video of John Crigler singing "A U.S. Army Interrogator" for Friday evening program]
Words to "A U.S. Army Interrogator composed and performed by John Crigler
Words to "Covert Operator in Deehhen Ling Monastary composed and performed by John Crigler

While do not have the written text for Ray McGovern's talk ([;click here] to listen to it on youtube), you can read McGovern's July 31, 2009 article on "Christians Largely Mum on Torture" at Consortium News by [; clicking here].