Saturday, July 15, 2006

Whom would Jesus torture?

Guest post by Capt. Fogg

When someone advocates something that can’t easily be denounced, like justice, the standard tactic is to attack the motive. "Sure, candidate X advocates fair trials in Texas , but why is he not making a fuss about Peru if he really is concerned about justice?"

"Sure, I was speeding, but if the officer was concerned about the law, why didn’t he arrest all the others?" It’s a weak argument heard in traffic court every day and perhaps I can’t call it an argument at all, but rather a diversion. Of course a weak argument or a sham argument is more than sufficient in the minds of those interested in avoiding blame or even avoiding reason, so when I read that Mark Tooley, whom Agape Press calls a "Conservative Christian Leader," thinks that the National Religious Campaign Against Torture isn’t sincere about eliminating torture, I can’t forget the judge's face when I tried the same argument so many years ago.

Mark Tooley directs the United Methodist Committee of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. Agape quotes him as saying:

"If this group were genuinely interested in torture, of course they would be addressing those regimes that actively and deliberately do practice torture rather than focusing exclusively on the United States," he comments. He says he detects a 'double standard' in the campaign against torture. "[It] is primarily a creation of the religious left and whose interest is not so much in torture, per se, but about opposing U.S. foreign policy."

Sorry, Mark, aside from the question of how one reconciles torture with the teachings of Jesus, one has to ask how a U.S. Christian group can persuade Khyrgyzstan to act like Christians and why the inability to do so excuses unchristian and inhuman horrors in a country where that group does have some influence. Tooley doesn’t ask and those of his ilk will not ask, since their theology is more about western supremacy and expediency than about justice or compassion or decency or, for that matter, about Jesus. Simply put, they are trying to justify the Roman torture and execution of Jesus of Nazareth and hoping you won’t notice. Hey, my neighbor beats his wife too, so if you’re coming after me, it must be political – tell it to the judge.

Because the Campaign Against Torture advocates an investigation into inhuman (and certainly by anyone’s definition, unchristian) abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram Air Force Base, Tooley concludes that it’s really about the heretical dislike of George W. Bush’s foreign policy and should be dismissed out of hand. I’m sure that somewhere he has a hidden Gospel wherein Jesus says:

"Look, the President speaks for God, not me. Just follow orders and don’t forget to trash the Liberals and bleeding hearts."

Tooley says that other denominations have made the mistake of putting Jesus before politics and it’s cost them membership over the years. Sounds like another quote from the same Gospel!

"Hey, this love thy neighbor thing is fine as long as the bucks keep coming in, but if they don’t buy it, just tell them whatever sells big in the Bible Belt."

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