Utah Religious Community Issues Statement on Torture

Today’s Deseret News and Salt Lake Tribune have published the statement from the Utah Religious Community disavowing the use of torture by the U.S. The statement urges our legislators to pass
H. R. 2863 (“Anti-Torture Provisions” – amendments to the Defense Appropriations Act of 2006).

There is one prominent religious community visibly missing from the list of signatories: The Church of Latter Day Saints. This church continues to refrain from taking a stand on this and other issues such as war itself.

On torture, the statement contains:
Torture, regardless of circumstance, humiliates and debases torturer and tortured alike. Torture turns its face against the biblical truth that all humans are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26, 27). It denies the preciousness of human life and the dignity of every human being by reducing its victims to the status of despised objects, no matter how noble the cause for which it is employed.

We, the leaders of several religious communities in Utah are calling on Congress and the President to rule out “any and all use of torture” of war prisoners as an option for the U.S. government or its agents.
We affirm the Nov. 9 statement from the National Council of Churches, which says in part: “Torture turns its face against the biblical truth that all humans are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-27). It denies the preciousness of human life and the dignity of every human being by reducing its victims to the status of despised objects, no matter how noble the cause for which it is employed.”
The General Assembly of the National Council of Churches and Church World Service voted unanimously to approve the statement (see below) disavowing the use of torture in any form.
We urge the members of our faith communities to contact their respective members of Congress advocating passage of the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill with the “anti-torture provisions” from the Senate’s bill be included.
While this statement comes from a national group of Christian churches, we believe that all of our faith traditions can uphold the same intent to “love our neighbors as ourselves,” a common thread found in nearly every world religion.

Signed:
The Right Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Episcopal Bishop of Utah
Rev. France Davis, Calvary Baptist Church, Salt Lake City
Father John E. Norman, Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
Rev. Carla Gilbert, United Church Christ, Congregational, Ogden, Utah
Rev. Tom Goldsmith, Salt Lake Unitarian Church
Ms. Dee Rowland, Roman Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City
Ghulam Hasnain, Muslim Community, Salt Lake City
Rev. Scott Weisser, First Baptist Church, Salt Lake City
Rev. Catherine Putnam, Wasatch Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City
Rev. Marvin L. Groote, Executive Congregational Consultant, Utah Presbytery
The Very Rev. William Maxwell, Dean Emeritus, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Salt Lake City
Ms. Raven Simons, Utah Pagan Clergy Association, Salt Lake City
Rev. David Henry, Wasatch Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City
Pastor Kevin James, Seventh-day Adventist Church, Ogden
The Rev. Jessica Hatch, Episcopal Community Services, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Len Evans, Grace Episcopal Church, St. George
Ms. Sue Marquardt, Wasatch Presbyterian Church, Salt Lake City
The Rev. W. Lee Shaw, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, West Valley City
The Rev. Robin James. St. Mark’s Cathedral, Salt Lake City
Rev. Ron Holdsworth, Granger Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), West Valley City
The Rev. Pete Poggemeyer, Episcopal Church of the Good Shepherd, Ogden
The Rev. Suzanne Duffield, St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church, Whiterocks
The Rev. Canon Diana Johnson, St. Mark’s Cathedral, Salt Lake City
Mr. Thomas J. Schroeder, Clerk, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Logan
The Rev. Bonnie Joia Roddy, All Saints Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City
Rev. Linda Brewer, Church of Religious Science, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Charles Robinson, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Park City
Ms. Nancy F. Appleby, Episcopal Peace Fellowship, Paul Jones Chapter, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Connie Gordon, St. Barnabas Episcopal Church, Tooele
Rev. Donald Graves, Church of Religious Science, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Deacon Jack E. Roddy, All Saints Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City
Ms. Holly Earl, Samaritan Counseling Center, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Trace Browning, Rowland Hall-St. Mark’s School, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Cheryl Moore, St. James Episcopal Church, Midvale
Rev. Jan Ewing, Church of Religious Science, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Gwyneth MacKenzie Murphy, All Saints Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City
The Rev. G. Edward Howlett, Retired priest, Episcopal Diocese of Utah
The Rev. Debora Jennings, Episcopal Diocese of Utah, Cedar City
The Rev. Steve Keplinger, St. David’s Episcopal Church, Page, Arizona
The Rev. Camille Sawaya, St. James Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City
The Rev. Daniel J. Webster, All Saints Episcopal Church, Salt Lake City

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