While the Senate is debating the President’s demands to change federal law to allow the CIA to use interrogation techniques that are not permitted by the Geneva Conventions, an interfaith group is organizing in opposition. At a press conference Tuesday, some of the state’s religious leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree (Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ) the Rt. Rev. Andrew Smith (Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut), the Rev. Judy Allbee (Executive Minister of the American Baptist Churches of Connecticut) and Dr. Heidi Hadsell (President of Hartford Seminary) will speak out against the immorality of torture and prisoner abuse. Joining with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT; www.nrcat.org), these religious leaders are calling upon CTís Congressional delegation to take a firm – and public – stand against any weakening of the United States’ commitment to Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions.
The event is being organized by Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice (RTPV), a statewide interfaith network of religious leaders and people of faith established in 2002 and a founding member of the NRCAT. “Torture is a moral issue; it is also a profoundly religious issue, for it degrades the image of God in each person. That religious groups in Connecticut and across the nation are so unified in their opposition to torture and the Bush Administration’s proposed legislation is unprecedented. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake, not to mention the rule of law,” said the Rev. Allie Perry, a member of the RTPV Steering Committee.
RTPV is launching a Plumbline Campaign to hold all of the state’s Congressional officeholders and candidates accountable for their positions on torture and the abuse of executive power. John Humphries, another Steering Committee member and a Quaker, noted that Senator Lieberman made statements on Monday opposing the President's proposals. “This is a positive step, but Senator Lieberman has most often voted on the wrong side of the torture issue," he said. Lieberman was one of only five Democratic senators who voted for a bill to strip Guantánamo captives of the right to habeas corpus and one of only six Democrats who voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General — after endorsing the conclusions of Gonzales's infamous "torture memo.” “This issue rises above campaign trail politics,” Humphries said. “We need all of our elected officials — Republicans and Democrats, Senators and Representatives — to be clear that they will not compromise on the US commitment to Common Article 3.”
The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is a campaign of national, regional, and local religious organizations. In a letter sent to every member of Congress last week, NRCAT’s Coordinating Committee Chair, Jeanne Herrick-Stare wrote, “History will either look back on this post-9/11 era in the U.S., and in particular this vote on the president’s proposed bill, as the time when the U.S. abandoned statutory commitment to its long-held moral values for a shameful lesser standard, or as the time when Congress reiterated U.S. commitment to its basic moral values.”