Take Your Torture Photos to Church Day

By David Swanson

If you’re paying attention, you know that no more evidence is needed to prosecute and convict our top national torturers, murderers, war mongers, eavesdroppers, and election riggers. If you want to protest our nation’s descent into open lawlessness, by no means delay. If you’re not planning on going to church on May 31st, for godsake don’t. But if you are planning to attend a church that day, and if more torture photos are finally made public on May 28th, I hope you will take some inspiration from the church blogging of Nick Mottern and bring along some new poster-sized images of what torture does to people.

Predictably, recent polling found that white evangelical Christian Americans are more likely to support torture, followed by white Catholics, other white protestants, and trailing far behind: the non-religious. I would predict the same results for supporting aggressive war, unlawful detentions, union busting, defunding education, protecting corporate power, teaching primitive myths to children, and general all-around backwardness. And Mormons, among other groups, would score high in these rankings if included.

That doesn’t mean that some of the most progressive people in the country aren’t also Mormons, evangelicals, Catholics, or protestants, not to mention whites. But it does mean that an above average concentration of torture supporters can be found in churches, and can be found sitting there in stark juxtaposition with archaic teachings of nonviolence and human brotherhood. Were torture victims understood in the U.S. media to be white Christians, support for torture among white Christians would drop, while it might increase among other groups. But torture victims are understood to be terrorists, a term that has been made equivalent to Muslim, Arab, foreign, evil, and guilty.

So here’s some text to include in your church blogging exercise:

“A good Republican was going down from Dallas to Houston, when he fell into the hands of robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead with no clothes. A preacher happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man he passed by on the other side. So too, a policeman, when he came to the place and saw him, he too passed by on the other side. But a Muslim immigrant, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, and called 9-11. Then he put the man in his van, took him to a hospital, and explained his condition. The next day the Muslim was locked up. Eventually, he was deported to his home country which he had fled for fear of political prosecution. Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the good Republican who fell into the hands of robbers?”

Take this message to your own church. The people there know you, and you know that they will not tackle you and grab a waterboard. You also know that our collective failure to speak up and take risks and offend sensibilities has resulted in and is continuing to allow the most brutal treatment of people far from our homes, people understood to be included in the category of “neighbor” only very rarely and primarily by those who have internalized the better lessons of Jesus of Nazareth while discarding the primitive packaging.

Telling pollsters and politicians that you support torture is very different from approving of it when confronted with large images of what it means. Your fellow churchgoers are not so cruel as to actually approve. They just need to be awakened to what it is they are allowing to be done in their name.