24 August 2007

My thoughts on the torture thread over at BCC

See first this post at one of my favorite Mormon blogs. After 234 comments, some of which had wandered far afield of the original topic, one of the blog moderators closed the thread. For those who don't follow the link, the gist is the following: not only did a Mormon write the memo that arguably justified the use of torture on alleged terrorists for interrogation purposes, but it was two Mormons (and moreover two guys who were well-known among their peers for being Mormon) who actually came up with the tactics that American interrogators have used to torture suspects.

Most of what I wanted to say has been said by others and better than I could. Nevertheless, not having had the opportunity to respond directly to that post, I feel like I needed to add my two cents' worth here.

I am appalled at what these three men did, especially if they had knowledge of what it would be used for. It is shocking the degree to which many of us (Mormons and non-Mormons alike) are capable of compartmentalizing what we do during the day and the beliefs and warm feelings we share with our families and our fellow Church members at our meetings and in our home. I am further shocked at how we can get all of these warm fuzzies talking about how God is our Father in Heaven and that all of us here are his children, created in His image, and yet miss the radical implications of that doctrine for how we treat our fellow man (and most particularly those who are not like us or who have done us some wrong).


  1. As a member of the military, I know for a fact that I won't be treated by anyone who captures me by the guidelines of the Geneva Convention. Despite that fact, I still don't condone torture. The rare cases when a captive would know any pertinent information are so few that having any standing policy allowing torture only leads interrogators to use it more often than it should be implemented. Then the US gov't becomes as cruel as those regimes we topple. Nope, I'll never be on the torture bandwagon.


  2. The best arguments against torture I've read came from John McCain before he somewhat caved to political pressure. I have also been amazed at the stance many Latter-day Saints have taken on human torture. I wrote an editorial about the topic last year for Weber State University's newspaper and afterwards received some angry e-mail calling me a "gay" and a "liberal." If only they knew I was the Gospel Doctrine teacher at the singles ward!