Torture is (still) a moral issue.
By Amy Laura Hall
In March 2011, I helped organize, host, and moderate an interfaith, interdisciplinary conference against torture. Experts in theology, religion and human rights gathered to discuss the use of torture in the U.S. and abroad and to prepare participants for anti-torture advocacy within their own communities.
“Toward a Moral Consensus Against Torture: A Gathering of Students, Clergy, People of Conscience, and People of Faith,” was held at Duke Divinity School and First Presbyterian Church in Durham, N.C. It was sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center, the North Carolina Council of Churches, and the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).
This conference was part of a national effort toward a moral consensus: torture is always wrong, torture does not make ‘us’ safer, and we need concrete tactics to refuse the climate of fear and compliance. Torture dehumanizes both victim and perpetrator; and it ultimately renders the nation that practices it morally damaged, less secure, and less human than before.
Speakers and panelists representing diverse faith traditions included:
- Abdullah Antepli, Duke University Muslim chaplain and adjunct faculty member of Islamic Studies
- Richard Cizik, president of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
- David Gushee, Mercer University professor and chair of the Board of the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good
- Linda Gustitus, president of NRCAT
- Scott Horton, contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine (Copy of his remarks: ‘America and the Arab Revolutions of 2011’)
- George Hunsinger, founder of NRCAT
- Robin Kirk, executive director of the Duke Human Rights Center
- Ingrid Mattson, director of the Macdonald Center for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary
- Gen. (ret.) Stephen Xenakis, a psychiatrist active in anti-torture efforts
Here are some additional documents from the conference that I hope may be of help as we all think through the ways that people of faith and people of conscience may continue unequivocally to name torture as wrong, always and everywhere: