Thoughts, essays, and writings on Liberty. Written by the heirs of Patrick Henry.

May 10, 2009

Southern Baptists condemn torture, including waterboarding

by Stephen Gordon

In a move very surprising to this veteran of far too many southern talk radio programs where I was the one condemning torture to a hostile audience, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission has just condemned torture.

“I don’t agree with the belief that we should use any means necessary to extract information,” said SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Richard Land. “I believe there are absolutes. There are things we must never do under any circumstances.”

Furthermore, they clearly indicated that waterboarding is indeed an act of torture:

“For me the ultimate test is: Could I, in good conscience, do whatever I am authorizing or condoning others to do? If not, then I must oppose the action. If I could not waterboard someone—and I couldn’t—then I must oppose its practice.”

Land said he considers waterboarding to be torture because the definition of torture includes the determination of whether a procedure causes permanent physical harm, noting he is unable to “separate physical from psychological harm” in this instance. The practice contravenes an individual’s personhood and their humanity, he said.

“It violates everything we believe in as a country,” Land said, reflecting on the words in the Declaration of Independence: that “all men are created equal” and that “they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.”

“There are some things you should never do to another human being, no matter how horrific the things they have done. If you do so, you demean yourself to their level,” he said.

“Civilized countries should err on the side of caution. It does cost us something to play by different rules than our enemies, but it would cost us far more if we played by their rules,” Land concluded.

To begin, I’d like to applaud the Southern Baptist Convention for taking this stand.  Based on my anecdotal observations, this won’t be popular with the let’s-waterboard-them-another-hundred-times crowd.  However, some of their members may now think through the issue or gain the courage to publicly oppose acts of torture.

While this condemnation is clearly many days late, it’s not a dollar short.  Perhaps it’s time to welcome the Southern Baptists into the fold of people who like to have rational and reasonable debate over issues of a political nature.  Or perhaps not.

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  • john

    Where were you eight years ago.
    It is a little late now.Southern Baptist.

  • LibertyTiger

    I wish the Southern Baptist and other evangelical denominations would return to their peaceful roots:

  • Eric Dondero

    What’s next? They gonna condemn loud heavy metal music, creepy crawly caterpillars, and water balloon fights as torture too?

    You start down this road of condemning everything as “torture,” than the word loses it’s significance.

    I’m sure my little brother thought I was “torturing” him when I held him down and made him eat dirt when we were 8.

    My gosh, enough of the ‘f’ing Girliemanism. Have we completely become a Nation of Wimps?

  • Akston

    Apropos of nothing in particular, I walked by a tiny dog today which was yapping itself into a froth in a terrified and frantic effort to convince a floating plastic bag that it was a force to be feared. I’m sure it would have bit the bag if its leash and its terror would have allowed for it.

  • Merf

    Hey guys, kewPedurfrelf’s comment was spam, to say the least . . . . Don’t click on the links he gave if there are children around.

    If you decide to delete his post, you can kill this one at the same time, too, if you like.

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