U.S. religious groups in anti-torture campaign

June 4, 2008

Torture instruments at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, 2 Dec 2007/Reuters photographerOver 275 congregations from across the faith spectrum and all corners of America will display banners this month condemning torture. The campaign is the brain child of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) which groups over 190 religious groups.

President George W. Bush in March vetoed legislation passed by Congress that would have banned the CIA from using waterboarding and other controversial
interrogation techniques that critics say is torture, making the issue a political as well as moral one in this election year.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain — who was tortured while a prisoner of war in Vietnam — has strongly condemned water-boarding and has been the author of previous anti-torture legislation, winning praise from centrist U.S. evangelicals among others. But he did not support the legislation vetoed by Bush on the grounds that it was too sweeping.

The banner campaign is one of inter-faith cooperation drawing Islamic, Jewish and Christian congregations and others. The issue is an emotive one but also clearly one where folks of different faiths find common ground.

(Photo credit: Reuters, Emma Goh, Cambodia, dec 2, 2007)

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