The Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon, general secretary of the National Council of Churches, has strong words for former President Bush:
"Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me." That is the teaching of Jesus as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. Likewise, the Golden Rule states, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."
These are the underpinnings not only for Christianity, but for many of the world's great religions. And these are the tenets of the faith claimed by former President George W. Bush.
That's why Bush's prideful defense of torture in his new memoir, Decision Points, is utterly incomprehensible to me. It's also unrecognizable to the fundamental values of this country, and of Bush's own professed Christian faith...
As the United States reported to the United Nations in 1998 as part of our obligation under the U.N. Convention Against Torture:
"Torture is prohibited by law throughout the United States. It is categorically denounced as a matter of policy and as a tool of state authority. Every act constituting torture under the Convention constitutes a criminal offence under the law of the United States. No official of the government, federal, state or local, civilian or military, is authorized to commit or to instruct anyone else to commit torture. Nor may any official condone or tolerate torture in any form. No exceptional circumstances may be invoked as a justification of torture."
We are now confronted with the fact that a president of the United States has openly acknowledged ordering torture. It is a sad and shameful moment. And, it is one we cannot let pass without consequence. Under our own laws, we must hold ourselves accountable; former President Bush has left us no choice.
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), a coalition of more than 290 religious organizations representing most of the major faith groups, has called for an independent counsel to investigate possible criminal wrongdoing. In addition, the coalition has asked for a Commission of Inquiry to take testimony about U.S.-sponsored torture, review all the records, and report to the public what it learns. It would also recommend safeguards to ensure that torture by the United States never happens again.
We must demand of ourselves what we demand of others in the international community, and what all major faiths require of us: respect for the dignity and value of every human being, a manifestation of that which is most holy.