The Torture Regime’s Attack On Religious Freedom

Michael Peppard searches for religion-themed abuses in the torture report:

My own research on torture in U.S. detention facilities has emphasized the religious aspects of abuse (“The Secret Weapon” and “Disgrace“). And though today’s report does not contain as much along these lines as did the Senate Armed Services Committee’s report in 2009, it does analyze assertions made by CIA Director Hayden in 2007 about the role of religion in “enhanced interrogation.” … The new report does not describe the many techniques of religiously-themed abuse that I compiled from ex-detainee memoirs and interviews in 2007-08, nor does it extend our knowledge from the 2009 report, which admitted techniques such as forced prostration before an idol shrine to generate “religious disgrace.”

But what Hayden’s comments do show is that using religion as a weapon in prolonged psychological warfare was an actual “policy” – not a result of agents gone rogue. The goal was to create a burden so great that a person’s religious faith would be destroyed. Nothing could be further from our country’s founding principle.

And yet white evangelicals in America are the most supportive of this grotesque attack on the principle of religious freedom and conscience. Dreher is disturbed by these findings:

[T]o take a captured prisoner, even one we can reasonably be certain has done evil things from religious motivation, and compel him to desecrate his religion, is to my Christian mind one of the most evil things that one human being can do to another. That the history of the Church shows Muslims have done this to Christians again and again and again does not make it right. It is always and everywhere a manifestation of utter barbarism.

No Christian can believe otherwise. And the core Christian point here is that even the worst terrorist remains a human being. He can be fought, brought to justice, jailed and even killed in lawful combat. But he cannot be reduced to a sub-human level. No one can. And to treat another human being as an object to be violated even when under your total control dehumanizes the torturer as surely as the tortured. It is total power. The entire agency of a human being is taken from him or her. And that is what American did to countless of human beings – and even now it is hard to find any tone of actual remorse among those responsible.