Small Leaders in A New Dark Age

Column by Bishop John Shelby Spong on 27 September 2006 0 Comments
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American response to American torture is perplexing. There can be no doubt

that American government officials, military and civilian, torture. They

may call it by other names but just as "a rose is a rose," so torture is


Setting aside for the moment the fact that the considerable evidence that

most "information" obtained through torture is unreliable, or worse, there

is a fundamental conflict between present day American Christian

Christianity and torture.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Christ's commandment

cannot be clearer. It is fundamental to Christian belief. It is the

bedrock of the Christian way. Torture cannot be reconciled with Christ's

commandment. One cannot be both a Christian and a torturer. America's

current President proudly and readily announces he is a "born again"

Christian. He is surrounded by persons of similar convictions. Many

Christian "leaders" support him. The President, however, has authorized

torture; he encourages its use even to the point of finding various dubious

and devious ways and means to avoid any attempts to curtail torture by

Americans or their proxies.

Why do American Christians and certain American Christian "leaders" support

torture? (Those people who torture and those people who order, advocate or

tolerate torture are equally culpable.) Many Americans contend that America

is a Christian nation. It would appear so based upon utterances and

statements of America's political elite and on the number of Americans who

profess to be Christians and belong to a congregation whose services they

attend on a regular and frequent basis. Can America be a Christian nation

when it tortures?

Why do American Christians not rise up to strike down those Americans who

torture? When will American Christians demand an end to torture? When will

Christian "leaders" take a public position, such as open letters against

torture? When will Christian preachers condemn torture from their pulpits?

When will Christian say loudly that torture is unchristian and un- American?

When will Christians demonstrate and protest torture in a manner similar to

their actions against choice? If Christians can stir up a storm in Florida

over the "right to die," when will they unleash a tempest in Washington

against torture? The current silence of American Christian is eerily

reminiscent of the silence of earlier generations against the evils of

racism. Perhaps it is to be expected that a people who lynched their fellow

citizens because of their race would torture their enemies.


Thank you for your question. I invite my readers to write to me with their

opinions on this issue. I will publish the best letters in the debate. My

readers must know that they have a better chance of being included in the

debate if they keep their comments succinct.

John Shelby Spong




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