April 6, 2009

Christians and torture

Obviously, the big question about why goes to George "Jesus is my favorite philosopher" Bush, but as Steven Waldman points out, the question of how a Christian could allow torture goes very much to the very visibly Christian John Ashcroft, who made a big point of leading Bible studies and arguing that he was only interested in doing what was right in God's eyes. Yet, there is no evidence so far, and none argued by Ashcroft himself, that he ever stood up and tried to stop the torture.
"On one of the greatest moral questions of the administration -- and arguably one of the greatest challenges to Christian ethics of the last decade -- he has nothing to say.

For sake of argument, let's say Ashcroft shouldn't have brought his religious beliefs into his decision-making. Perhaps we want our Attorney General to completely submerge his religion when dealing with policy. Indeed, on other occasions Ashcroft apparently went against his personal beliefs in order to enforce the law -- as when he had federal marshals protect doctors who perform abortions.

But if that's the case, I'm left wondering: what is the value of having a religious person in office? I don't mean that as a snarky rhetorical question. I'm honestly perplexed: if ever there was a situation when we actually could have benefited from having a self-righteous, moral, Bible-reading, God-fearing Christian in the room to morally challenge utilitarian thinking, the discussions about torture would have been it."

I am with Waldman here (though his reference to Richard Land as a "moderate" leaves me puzzled), if people like Bush and Ashcroft are not expected to actually act like Christians, then what is the point of electing them?

I would further add that this not only goes to Ashcroft, but the large population of conservative Christians who praised Bush's faith and reelected him--all without ever questioning the man on torture.


Monk-in-Training said...

SOME Christians did protest torture, but we were not as loud as we should have been.

Streak said...

Absolutely, Monk. I completely agree. This, like so many of my frustrated comments, is aimed at the Christians who supported Bush because of his supposed faith, and continued to do so regardless of what came out on torture.

A conservative friend told me yesterday that he believes that most conservative Christians simply could not believe the torture stuff, and just kept assuming that this was part of the left's attack on Bush. I think that is partially true. Unfortunately, I think there is also a segment of that Bush base/Christian conservative base that really doesn't mind us torturing people in the model of 24.

Tony said...

Let me weigh in as one of those conservative Christians that opposed torture in all forms and still does. I would wholeheartedly agree that there is a conservative Christian base that still thinks torture is Christian.

I read in a lengthy comment thread at the collaborative SBC blog that I used to contribute to several Christians and sadly, PASTORS, arguing the ethics of torture. Needless to say, I threw up in my soul. I probably should have gotten involved in the discussion but just did not have the stomach for it that day.

Streak said...

Tony, your record is clear and clean. I am still amazed (as I know you are) that Christian pastors would defend this. I wonder if any of them have read the Red Cross report and know what they defended? Would that matter?

I remember saying to a conservative friend that if Christians values didn't include opposition and disgust at torture, there were no Christian values. He seemed less convinced.

But of all of the things that have eroded my respect for conservative Christianity, none is more than their tepid (at best) response to torture.