Saturday, March 3, 2007

Minute on torture

Minute: The record of a corporate decision reached during a meeting for worship for business. "Glossary," Faith & Practice, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
Just getting around to writing about the minute against torture adopted by our monthly meeting on February 11. Actually, we did something rather startling for a group of Quakers. Instead of haggling over the wording of an original minute of our own, we made "Quaker time" move a bit faster by simply endorsing the texts of minutes passed by Brooklyn and Morningside Monthly Meetings, both in New York. Then our clerk asked someone to draft a press release (as in "Stop the presses! The Quakers just passed a minute!") and I volunteered for the job. Fortunately, I got a lot of help from a Friend who teaches writing. So here it is:

On Sunday, February 11, 2007, we adopted the following resolution against torture:

Recognizing that of God in every person, we condemn the use of torture for any purpose. War and terrorism inspire fear, but retaliation and torture do not prevent them. Torture by any means, whether direct or by proxy, is immoral. Torture demeans the humanity of the tortured, the torturer and those who have knowledge of it. It fails to defend the sanctity of life.

We agree with William Penn, Quaker founder of Pennsylvania, who wrote, “A good end cannot sanctify evil means; nor must we ever do evil that good may come of it.” Let the United States abolish its use of torture now.

We join with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), No2Torture and the Quaker Initiative to End Torture (QUIT) in declaring that the inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners must stop, without exception. They call upon Congress to repeal the Military Commissions Act, close Guantánamo Bay Prison and abolish the heinous practice of extraordinary rendition.

We based our resolution, or minute, on those passed by Brooklyn and Morningside Monthly Meetings (NY) and will urge Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, constituting more than 100 Quaker congregations, to adopt a similar position against torture.

The prophet Micah proclaimed:
“What does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.”

Friends hope other citizens who want to act justly and who "love mercy" will also raise their voices against the use of torture.
Yes, I'm aware of the "that of God" squabble which threatens to overshadow the Filioque controversy, and I've read Lewis Benson's article ...but I refuse to wrangle over the meaning of the expression here.

A reporter at one of the local papers invited me to email our press release to her, but so far I haven't seen any coverage. The Philadelphia Inquirer recently started a Thursday feature highlighting religious congregations in the area. The county editor sent me the questionnaire for our meeting to fill out and suggested that we slip our minute in there somehow.

However, another local monthly meeting has done something far better. On Monday evening it will be hosting Jay O'Hara of the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) in a discussion on how to lobby against torture and other post-9/11 civil liberties violations. I'm looking forward to attending.

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