Religious leaders ask for `commision of inquiry’ on torture

Religious leaders ask for `commision of inquiry’ on torture

Mar 03, 2009

Sam Hodges

Prominent Religious Leaders Call for “Commission of Inquiry” on Torture as Senator Leahy Launches Hearings to Establish “Truth” Commission

National Religious Campaign Against Torture to submit statement to Leahy along with testimony for hearing

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) released a statement calling for an impartial, nonpartisan, and independent “Commission of Inquiry” to investigate U.S.-sponsored torture and to ascertain the extent to which Bush administration interrogation practices constituted “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The statement has been signed by nearly two dozen prominent religious leaders, representing a broad array of religious denominations. Signatories include Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ; Dr. Ingrid Mattson, President, Islamic Society of North America; Rev. Dr. David Gushee, President, Evangelicals for Human Rights; and Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center, Union of Reform Judaism

The statement reads in part:

“The United States must never again engage in torture. Torture is immoral, illegal and counterproductive. It causes profound and lasting harm, especially to its victims but also to its perpetrators. It contradicts our nation’s deepest values and corrupts the moral fabric of our society. […] As people of faith, we know that brokenness can be healed – both in individual lives and in the life of the nation. All religions believe that redemption is possible. Learning the truth can set us on a path toward national healing and renewal.”

The full statement, along with the names of the 23 religious leaders who have signed it, is included at the end of this email.

The release of this statement comes as momentum is building for an investigation into the Bush administration’s program of “enhanced interrogation.” Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), is holding a Judiciary Committee hearing on Wednesday, March 4, to explore establishing a “Truth” Commission, which would carry out a comprehensive investigation into the approval of and use of torture by the U.S. government. The Commission would include significant use of public testimony and would ultimately issue a report on its findings.

NRCAT, which is providing written testimony for Senator Leahy’s hearing, strongly supports the establishment of an independent, non-partisan Commission of Inquiry, with the power to subpoena witnesses, to investigate the roles elements of our government played in the torture of detainees.

“The American people have been kept in the dark about this nation’s involvement in torture for long enough,” said Rev. Richard Killmer, executive director of NRCAT. “If we hope to heal the nation’s soul, we must conduct a public inquiry into the actions of the last eight years. This is not a time to hide from our past. We must investigate and report on the torture policies and practices of the past and then develop safeguards to assure that torture never happens again.”

For more information about NRCAT’s campaign for a Commission of Inquiry


Rev. Richard Killmer, NRCAT, at 202-547-1920 (cell 207-450-7242) or


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