The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has been among the strongest supporters of human rights law, an area of significant success in 20th Century Protestant Christian witness generally. One part of this has been our now 20-year history of preparing human rights updates for Christian education and public policy use. Previous General Assembly actions are noted in the background materials to this year’s resolution; copies can be found in the Advisory Committee’s Social Policy Compilation.
Along with the resolution and its study paper is printed a second action of the Assembly, a petition calling for a formal congressional inquiry into how torture came to be used in U.S. military and other prisons. This action began in a congregational study group, was adopted by San Francisco Presbytery, and then was concurred in by five other presbyteries. Together with the strong support of the Assembly itself, these actions show a firm consensus in our Church that torture is inconsistent with Christian faith, as well as counterproductive for intelligence gathering.
The bases for our study and advocacy are found in our prayer, worship and scripture reading. Although some persons who suffer torture are themselves guilty of serious crimes, our hearts go out even to these “enemies.” We share not only a common humanity, but a loving Creator God who shows us better ways to “do justice, love mercy and walk humbly” together.