[T]orture has no defense whatsoever in Christian morality. There are no circumstances in which it can be justified, let alone integrated as a formal program within a democratic government. The Catholic catechism states, “Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions… is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” Dignity is the critical word there. Even evil men are human and redeemable. Our faith demands that, even in legitimate punishment or interrogation, the dignity of prisoners must be respected. Our faith teaches that each of us—even Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—is made in the image of God. To violate that imago Dei by stripping and freezing him, by slamming him against a wall, or strapping him to a board to nearly drown him again and again and again, to bombard him with noise and light until he loses his mind, to reduce a human being to a mental and spiritual shell—nothing can justify this for a Christian. Nothing. To wield that power is to wield evil. And such evil is almost always committed by those who believe they are pursuing good.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
Imago Dei And Torture
In an "epistle," the cover story in the new "Atlantic," Andrew Sullivan, who supported the 2003 invasion of Iraq, calls on President Bush to be accountable for torture in the same way Reagan accepted responsibility for the Iran-contra affair and Lincoln for the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War. In doing so, he appeals to his and Bush's shared Christian faith: