Bill Cosby says that the reason grandparents are so different than parents is because they are old people trying to get into heaven. That may be true and it may be why I find myself more outspoken on issues I have avoided.
In a recent article by Ray McGovern, he sited a Pew Research Center survey. The survey polled white non-Hispanic Catholics, white evangelicals and white mainline Protestants. A majority (54%) who attended church regularly said torture could be “justified.” The irony is that among occasional church attenders said torture is rarely or never justified.
Ray McGovern is qualified to write on the subject. He is a retired CIA officer who served under seven presidents for over 27 years. He presented the morning intelligence briefings at the White House for many of those presidents. He is a member Church of the Savior in Washington, DC. and speaks to churches around the country. The article had to do with either the acceptance of torture among Christians, or the refusal of Christian ministers to speak out against it.
In his article he refers to “Blank Presbyterians”, “Deaf Methodists” and “Clueless Catholics.” He does say there are segments within each group that have spoken out against torture. He didn’t say anything about the Baptists or the Church of Christ, but I’m sure he would find the same among us and the Baptists.
I remember a woman who was a member of the Church of Christ saying about the Abu Ghraib prison torture, “Well, they’d do the same to our boys if not worse.” But she agreed it was not a Christian attitude.
That’s the problem, how did we Christians reach the point torture became circumstantially acceptable? And, it is not a political party issue. Both sides of the “isle” have condemned it. John McCain, a Republican and a tortured war veteran, has spoken out against it, even though the Chaney/Bush administration advocated it, Chaney being more outspoken than the president. A Baptist senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, in a senate hearing about such interrogation techniques said, “One of the reasons these techniques have been used for about 500 years is that they work.”
One of the startling things in McGovern’s article was (I remembered hearing this) that Hitler made sure there was a pastor in each Lutheran and Catholic parish in Germany. The reason? To be a force for the stability of his regime.
Torture has been around for as long as humans have lived together. We’ve all heard of the torture chambers of ancient times and have seen the tools of the torture trade. We also know that in most of those cases the torture had nothing to do with gaining information. It had to do with revenge and inflicting pain and death. When the crusaders caught pregnant Muslim women who were about to give birth and striped them down so the dogs could eat their children as they were born, it had nothing to do with gaining intelligence. It was about ethnic cleansing. The same could be said of the atrocities of Hitler. But torture used to gain what is thought to be useful information is another matter. But is it?
Christians will say “God is in control.” Amen! They will say,”Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.” Amen! They will say, “Jesus said fear not.” Amen! And then say torture is the right way to be in control, bring justice and the end of fear.
At this point I need to explain the title of this article. The “WWJT” stands for “Who Would Jesus Torture?” When I ask myself that question the answer to the torture question is easy.
John Yoo, one of the chief torture lawyers for the Bush administration said it was appropriate to crush the testicles of a child in front of it’s parents to get vital information. And Jesus said, “Amen!” I can only guess what Yoo would suggest if the parents only had daughters.
Of course, the question is always asked, “If your loved one was about to die a horrible death, and the person who had information to stop it was sitting in front of you, what would you do?” Under such circumstances I have no idea how desperate and brutal I might be. That’s the reason we struggle with criticizing torture. We are led to believe that since threats to our security happen almost every day, torture is the only way to stop it. We also believe our enemies think and act as we do. They don’t. If I believe I will be rewarded as a martyr if I die for my cause, why would I tell the truth under torture? We read of people who walk into a business with a gun and kill out of anger and revenge, and then either kill themselves, or die willingly by what is called, “Death by cop.”
It should be noted that many high ranking military officers believe torture is not only wrong and against what America should stand for, but that it is not an effective way to get worthwhile information. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been reported as “appalled” and “disgusted” after viewing some of the abuse photos being kept under wraps by the Obama administration. He warned senior military officers on July 10, 2009, “We haven’t all absorbed or applied all the lessons of Abu Ghrab.” He has ordered that more be done to halt detainee abuse, saying, “We are better than this and now we have to show it.”
The Christian may say, “I wouldn’t do it, but the government has the right to.” If that’s true, the government also has the right not to torture. So if the present administration said it would no longer practice any form of torture, all Christians would be happy. Right? Hardly. Most of those who feel torture is necessary claim some form of Christianity or belief in God.
As for me, I can’t believe Jesus would tell me to brutalize a child to get information. So I intend to keep asking myself, “Who would Jesus torture?” Or perhaps, “Who would Jesus authorize to be tortured?” And while I ponder that, I might also think about what Augustine said, “Hope has two children. The first is anger at the way things are. The second is courage to do something about it.”
CONCERNS: Pray for Connie Crites’ father and family. He has been found to have two aneurysms at the end of stents previously placed in the arteries of his heart. At 91, he is dealing with a decision about the surgery. Philip Pierce’s mother, Pam, has been sent home to gain strength from a ruptured appendix as she awaits heart surgery. Zona Fisher’s older brothers, Tim and Roger, both have cancer. Mike Bartkiewicz, Jennifer Wagner’s father, is slowly recovering from cancer surgery and a ruptured colon. He still has a way to go. He is in the VA Hospital. Chad Plaster had tests at Johns Hopkins to see if they can better treat a syndrome he has that causes his limbs to shake. Joni Plaster only sustained a bad sprained ankle, not a break. Continue in prayer for Melanie Almeder (cancer), Mike Breeding (Ron Matney’s nephew) is home but still needs prayers. Polly Altice and her son, James. Isabel Simpson (leukemia), Helen Nicklas, Evelyn Hammer, Julie in Texas (stroke), Mrs Kelly, a recent widow, Teri Burks and Trixie Long. Roger Fisher’s nephew in Fla. (cancer) Barbara McCauley, Tim Elder, Jewell Racer, Wilma and Jeni Cullum, Del Bolin, who is in Honduras doing medical work. The work of Heath Talents and Bread For A Hungry World.
OUR DAILY BREAD: APRIL 19-24
Monday: Joshua 24:14-28
Tuesday: Acts 9:1-9
Wednesday: James 5:1-8
Thursday: I John 1:5-2:6
Friday: Hebrews 12:1-14
Saturday: Psalm 13:1-8
OUR DAILY BREAD: APR. 26-MAY 1
Monday: Job 38:1-18
Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-5
Wednesday: Psalm 37:1-17
Thursday: Luke 18:35-19:10
Friday: John 18:1-14
Saturday: Hebrews 13:1-21
By now most of those who are attending Sweet Life Cafe’, the women’s retreat have registered. But there may still be time. See Erma Williams. The time is the weekend of the 23rd and 24th.
Erma took several pictures last Sunday for the new directory. However, there are more needed, so if she asked, say “Peaches!” Since we have a new copier with the ability to do booklets, we hope to start as soon as the updates information is passed out and turned in. The information sheets will be available next week.
LIFE LINE SCREENING
Once again Life Line Screening, a group that offers stroke screening, heart rhythm screening, aortic screening, peripheral arterial screening and osteoporosis screening, will be using our annex on Monday, May 3. If you need such a service information is available for the asking.
The dates for camp this year are June 13-19 at Camp Bethel. The cost remains the same as last year, $150.00. The church will pay $30.00 of the cost for each camper from the congregation. Other help is usually available. See Keith.
HAITIAN AND YOUTH FUND RAISER
The young people will be hosting a spaghetti dinner in the annex on May 8 at 5:00 P. M. The meal will consist of spaghetti, a salad, garlic bread, a drink and dessert, all for $5.00. This will take some donations from the congregation. Erma will let us know. The funds raised will go to Haitian relief and youth activities. Plan to come and invite some friends.
Today, April 18th is Super Sunday. Plan to stay and enjoy the meal following the morning service..All guests, April birthdays and anniversaries will be served first.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
The steering committee will meet following the Super Sunday meal. Among the things discussed will be the Sunday date when the collection for Haitian relief will take place.