Saturday, February 16, 2008

Waterboarding and United Methodist Social Principles

Is waterboarding a violation of the United Methodist Social Principles (

The Social Community ( defines how we are to live within the family of people. The Basic Freedoms and Human Rights ( section under the Political Community ( includes the language

"Furthermore, the mistreatment or torture of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever and whenever it occurs."

So long as waterboarding = torture, see (, then it would be against the Social Principles in all cases, irrespective of the justification (The ends do not justify the means), consistent with the Social Principles language extracted above.

If so, how should we respond to the fact of our country using that on a single human being, much less 3 and announcing that under the right circumstances we will again?

Again, based on the Social Principles, we are called as United Methodists to "condemn and/or oppose it whereever and whenever it occurs."

In a meeting at the church this morning, the question was asked what had happened in the last week or so that we wanted to share with the group, or something like that. I was second after Reverend Blackadar and I said that I was very concerned about our country using waterboarding.

One of the other people there said, we should do "whatever it takes" regarding the terrorists.

This position just proves more needs to be done. We need to follow our Social Principles and speak out. There should be more outrage, more debate, more shame about this.

We need to find ways to move beyond the "whatever it takes" position.

We need to remember what Christ taught in the lesson of the Good Samaritan, in Luke 10:25-37, that even our enemy is our neighbor. So, when we are to love our neighbor, we are to love our enemy. We are to treat them as we would wish to be treated.

We are to fight hate with love.

We are to be peacemakers

We are to follow Christ's example when he said, "foregive them, for they know not what they do", even as he was dying on the cross.

How can we as United Methodists act together, against these acts of torture sanctioned by our own government?

How can we heal divisions within our own churches, if we do speak out?

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