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Church of the Brethren

Standing Against Torture
December 13, 2011
 

Earlier today, General Secretary Stan Noffsinger was part of an interfaith coalition, brought together by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, who met with the Obama Administration to urge them to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT). Earlier today, Stan took an action that gave feet to our 2010 Annual Conference Resolution against Torture. Now, you can join him by adding your voice.

The Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), requires participating nations to create mechanisms to prevent torture from occurring in detention centers, police stations, mental health hospitals, and prisons. It also permits international experts to inspect those facilities. 60 nations have ratified OPCAT and 21 additional nations have signed it. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not among them.

Ratifying OPCAT would enhance our government’s effectiveness and credibility in urging other countries to stop their use of torture and to ratify both the Convention Against Torture (the treaty prohibiting torture) and OPCAT.

Put your feet, or in this case, your voice, behind our 2010 Annual Conference Resolution, and urge the Obama Administration to sign the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture. 

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Church of the Brethren Policy: The 2010 Annual Conference Resolution Against Torture reads,

1. Introduction

The Church of the Brethren, as a Historic Peace Church, has experienced persecution for its faith and its members have suffered violence at times in the church’s 300-year history. Torture has been one form of that violence, illustrated by the story told about elder Johannes Naas and how he was tortured for refusing military conscription.

Only recently have efforts begun to work toward reconciliation of the persecution the first

Brethren experienced in Europe, before they migrated to America—an indication of the longlasting effects of such painful experiences, even across many generations. 

Personal experience of the violence of war has been one guiding factor in the Church of the Brethren’s consistent statement that “all war is sin” and its emphasis on peacemaking.

2. Biblical Basis

The sanctity of life was and is a fundamental value of our faith. According to the biblical witness we recognize the following as foundational for our conviction regarding the sanctity of life: God created human beings in the image of God (Gen. 1:26), and God proclaimed this creation “very good.” In Exodus God commands the Israelites to “not wrong or oppress a resident alien” (Ex.

22:21).

In the gospels, Jesus commands his followers not only to love their neighbors, but to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36). This same command is given through the apostolic witness as Paul exhorts the Roman believers to live at peace with others, genuinely love others, and “not be overcome by evil but to overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:9-21; 13:8-10).

It is our belief and conviction that the redemptive work and purpose of God is to bring wholeness and life to all creation (John 3:16; 4:1-15; 2 Cor. 5:16-20; Col. 3:12-15). The final promise of

God accentuates the hope of all believers and illustrates the end to which God and God’s community are working (Isaiah 2:2-4; 11:1-9; Rev. 21:3-4).

3. Torture is a Violation of Word and Life

We, the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, are aware of the growing occurrences of torture throughout our world. We also recognize there have been attempts to legitimize torture. Torture is a blatant violation of the tenets of our faith. It injects into our character the sense that we are better than others and dehumanizes people. It seeks to break the human spirit. In reality it devastates both the one who is tortured and the one who tortures.

4. Call to Confession, Call to Action

We, the Annual Conference of the Church of the Brethren, find both the occurrences of torture and the attempt to legitimize the acts of torture unconscionable.

We confess allowing the rhetoric and images of torture to pass us by.

We confess ignoring the cry for justice.

We confess becoming desensitized and complacent.

We confess feeling insignificant to make a difference.

We confess not speaking in a timely manner.

We confess our inaction.

We confess our silence.

We deeply mourn the harm that has been done to all who have been tortured and have tortured.

Lord have mercy.

We will be silent no more.

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For more information about the witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Jordan Blevins, Advocacy Officer for the Church of the Brethren:

Jordan Blevins
C/O National Council of Churches
110 Maryland Ave. NE
Suite 108
Washington, DC 20002
jblevins@brethren.org
202-481-6943

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Church of the Brethren Action Alerts are a ministry of the denomination's Global Mission Partnerships and its witness and advocacy office in Washington, D.C., in cooperation with the National Council of Churches. Contact advocacy officer Jordan Blevins at jblevins@brethren.org . Contact Global Mission Partnerships at the Church of the Brethren General Offices, 1451 Dundee Ave., Elgin, IL 60120; 800-323-8039 or mission@brethren.org .

2011 Church of the Brethren.