Friday, September 22, 2006

The Usual Suspects

Two developments on torture.

First, the three Republican Senators who were opposing the President caved. For analysis of just how badly, go read this and this. The upshot is that the CIA gets to keep doing what they've been doing, torture will be defined by what the President says, and no one can mount a legal challenge against it. And the three "men of principle" who initially stood up to the President - they caved to their party's leader and political expediencely like they have before.

In another development, the National Council of Churches re-released an ad in Roll Call, a newspaper targeted at the members of congress, asserting that "Torture is a Moral Issue". (The ad was first placed in the New York Times in June). Only in the through the looking glass state of this present world would Christians and Americans need to be reminded of something like this, but such is the nature of our times.

When I first saw the link to the NCC ad, I yawned. In the contemporary American religious scene, statements from the churches on the left side of the theological spectrum, the main constituents of the NCC, have no effect, or even the opposite effect on evangelical and conservative Christians. The folks I go to church with don't care what Jim Wallis, a professor from Princeton or a Catholic Archbishop have to say. More to the point, the President doesn't either. But they will listen to people like Ted Haggard, the President of the National Association of Evangelicals, and Rick Warren, a big deal pastor and mega-selling author, and both of them signed their names to the ad too.

Here's where it gets interesting. Both Warren and Haggard have had regular access to the President, with Haggard having a weekly phone call with the President or his close advisors every Monday. One wonders what they have said to the President after the ad was released in June. When Tony Campolo and Bill Hybels counseled Bill Clinton, they gave him the business. Have Haggard and Warren done the same?

I clicked through a lot of Google pages to see if either Haggard or Warren have said anything specific about torture beyond the ad, but I couldn't find anything. I can only pray (and I actually have prayed about this since June) that people like Haggard and Warren will use their access to speak the truth to our President, but sadly on the evidence so far, they either haven't, or it hasn't worked.

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