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Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has broken ranks with most other evangelicals and condemned waterboarding as torture.

There is no room for torture as part of the United States’ intelligence gathering process, in Richard Land’s view. The practice known as "waterboarding" is torture, he said.

Land, president of the SBC’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said there is no circumstance in which torture should be permissible in interrogations by U.S. officials, even if the authorities believe a prisoner has information that might involve national security.

Where in the world was Land on this seven years ago?  As one of Bush's top advisers on religious freedom, you'd have thought he'd have said something.

This question becomes even more stark when you read Land's take on waterboarding--it sounds a lot like something you'd read on dKos.

Land said he considers waterboarding torture because included in the definition of torture is whether a procedure causes permanent physical harm, noting he is unable to "separate physical from psychological harm" in this instance. The practice contravenes an individual’s personhood and their humanity, he said.

"It violates everything we believe in as a country," Land said, noting the Declaration of Independence says: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Land also rejects the argument that waterboarding saved lives, saying it is a "very slippery slope."  He also pointed out that the Southern Baptists passed a resolution condemning torture in 1977, and even now they still stand behind it.

The last paragraph, in particular, could have been written by a Kossack.

"There are some things you should never do to another human being," Land said, "no matter how horrific the things they have done.

"If you do so, you demean yourself down to their level," he said.

Civilized countries should err on the side of caution, Land said. "It does cost us something to play by different rules than our enemies, but it would cost us far more if we played by their rules," he said.

Unfortunately, some of the comments reveal just how ingrained the idea that it's OK to torture is among born-agains.

I have always respected Dr. Land, but now I am rethinking this as he now agrees with of the Obama administration, with McCain who lost the election because he no longer stood for working from a position of strength, and with the enemies of this great nation who behead people on camera, who fly airplanes into buildings, who have sworn to destory both this nation and God’s people Israel. They would certainly agree with you, but they will never think that this rule applys to them, they will torture without mercy.  Dr. Land you are getting weak as you age and stood think about stepping down in order to let someone who will not compromise with the weak politicians and with the enemy. This is not only a horrible opinion from Dr. Land, it is asking our nation to cowardly compromise and weaken itself in this very real war.

I must disagree. I believe that the lives of thousands are more important than the one life of one unrepentant murderer who will continue to murder God’s children in the name of God. We have to take a stand somewhere and I am drawing my line at coddling mass murderers. I am quite certain that "lasting psychological trauma" was inflicted on this man long before we ever heard of him.

Only one commenter supports Land's stance on this.  As a born-again Christian, this truly saddens me.  One would think that we born-agains would agree that there are certain things we just don't do as a nation.

Sadly, however, Land says that he could condone tactics such as sleep deprivation or forcing someone to remain in a cold room.  Which is odd, since it seems to me that either tactic would cause "permanent physical harm," and it would be awfully difficult to separate psychological harm from physical harm in these case.  Still, one can only hope he comes around on this as well.

Originally posted to Christian Dem in NC on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:27 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar (18+ / 0-)

    It saddens me to even say this, but Land's view on this is proof, given his history, that a stopped clock can be right sometimes.

    GOP=Grand Obstructionist Party

    by Christian Dem in NC on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:28:08 AM PDT

  •  Glad to see Southern Baptists (0+ / 0-)

    coming back to their roots.

    Last year there was a front page live Q&A with a theological academic on the separation of church and state.

    I was suprised to learn that we have the Southern Baptists to thank for the separation of church and state because it wasn't really on Jefferson's radar at the time.  They lobbied Madison to speak to his friend about it and Jefferson agreed as they were afraid of persecution if the Church of England/Anglican became the nation's official religion.

    In that context, it is nice to see them return to their roots.

    "Where they burn books, they will ultimately also burn people." - Heinrich Heine, Almansor, 1821

    by Jeffersonian Democrat on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:36:20 AM PDT

  •  How sick is this... (4+ / 0-)

    ...these evangelicals should have been rioting in the streets the moment it became evident Bush & Cheney were torturing people.

    Intsead, they wait until after the damage is done, & wait for the politics of the issue to change. Then, & only then,  one of the Elmer Gantrys speaks out against torture.

    Richard Land is an scumbag.  Like all the hypocritical cowards that are pimps for Republican evangelical Christian fundamentalism, Land embraced evil until it became too politicall inconvient to do so.

    After everything is fucked way up, he decides to crawl out from under his rock & "make a statement."

    No wonder these people want to secede from the Union:  Their hatred for America is vehement.

    Torture under Bush & Cheney: Done to "keep us safe" or the fulfillment of a sadism fetish? You decide.

    by wyvern on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:42:42 AM PDT

  •  maybe just maybe - true moral Christians (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, Aranfell

    are finding their voice instead of the power hungry ones like falwell, robertson and dobson....

    Takin it to the streets....Doobie Brothers

    by totallynext on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:47:11 AM PDT

  •  Now if we could only get them to (3+ / 0-)

    care about civil rights too...

  •  SBC: Only God Can Torture! (0+ / 0-)

    Details at 11:00.

    Al que no le guste el caldo, le dan dos tazas.

    by Rich in PA on Sat May 09, 2009 at 09:54:33 AM PDT

  •  Chunks of structure and control surfaces (0+ / 0-)

    flying off the starship gop.

  •  Finally someone in the Evangelical community (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    imabluemerkin, Aranfell

    actually having the courage to say torture is wrong no matter who does it.  Pat "Christian" Robertson is a hypocrite and so are most of the political shills for graft: dial a prayer preachers who stand for nothing.

    I can actually respect this person for having the courage its going to take to stand up to Rush et al.  This individual is in for a shit storm for following the actual teachings of Christ and not the pseudo-faith of the right.

  •  What part of Christian do they not understand? (0+ / 0-)

    The comments to Mr. Land were horrifying:  bad things were done to this nation; but there seems to be no conscience if these individuals were innocent, just turned in by a neighbor for a reward.  There's a word for this lack of compassion or conscience -- sociopath.  And it permeates a great number of otherwise decent people.  

    I remember reading about the Crusades.  The Crusaders would ride into a Middle Eastern country and slaughter everyone with a turban.  There were ancient Christian communities, which had existed far longer than Christianity had in England or France.  They were slaughtered because they wore turbans.  

    And thus the acrimony began between the cultures.  But that would require reading history, understanding the Christian teachings as they were meant to be understood.  

    Thank you, Dr. Land, for your act of courage.  

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