Values Voters

Atrios has some good advice for the group Faithful Democrats (and other such organizations) :

If I had a somewhat insidery new organization for religious Democrats and was thinking about an issue which would be true to both (what I imagine to be) religious principles and liberal principles, and where the debate could perhaps be shaped (for better or for worse) by religious argument and language, I’d think about jumping on it.

So, how about a little torture talk, guys.

Lemme second that one. Maybe they can take their cues from the faithful non-Democrats at Christianity Today.

Every inch of the human body and every aspect of the human spirit comes from God and bears witness to his handiwork. We are made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26-28). Human dignity, value, and worth come as a permanent and ineradicable endowment of the Creator to every person.

Christians, at least, should be trained to see in every person the imprint of God’s grandeur. This should create in us a sense of reverence. Here, we say—and we say it even of detainees in the war on terror—is a human being sacred in God’s sight, made in God’s image, someone for whom Christ died. No one is ever “subhuman” or “human debris,” as Rush Limbaugh has described some of our adversaries in Iraq.

Because they are human, people have rights to many things, including the right not to be tortured. Christians sometimes question the legitimacy of “rights talk,” correctly so. Just because someone claims a right does not mean that it really is a right. But among the most widely recognized rights in both legal and moral theory is the right to bodily integrity; that is, the right not to have intentional physical and psychological harm inflicted upon oneself by others. The ban on torture is one expression of this right.
. . .
In the Scriptures, God’s understanding of justice tilts toward the vulnerable. “Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry” (Ex. 22:21-23). Primary forms of injustice include violent abuse and domination of the powerless.

One reason our legal system has so many layers of protection for the accused and imprisoned is their powerlessness. This is important in any legal system that has the power to deprive people of their liberty and even their lives. The 83,000 people who have been detained by our government and military in the last four years are, as prisoners, vulnerable to injustice. Those who have been tortured are victims of injustice.
. . .
Given human sinfulness, not only must people be told not to torture, we must also strengthen the structures of due process, accountability, and transparency that buttress those standards and make them less likely to be violated. This is what is so dangerous about the discovery of secret CIA prisons in Europe and “ghost detainees” who are located no one knows where. As Manfred Nowak, U.N. special rapporteur on torture, said at the time the cia’s secret prisons were revealed, “Every secret place of detention is a higher risk for ill treatment; that’s the danger of secrecy.” It is not enough for U.S. government officials to say they can be trusted to act “in keeping with our values”—not without due process, accountability, and transparency. No government is so virtuous as to overcome the laws of human nature, or to be beyond the need for democratic checks and balances.
. . .
It is past time for evangelical Christians to remind our government and our society of perennial moral values, which also happen to be international and domestic laws. As Christians, we care about moral values, and we vote on the basis of such values. We care deeply about human-rights violations around the world. Now it is time to raise our voice and say an unequivocal no to torture, a practice that has no place in our society and violates our most cherished moral convictions.

Conservatives everywhere take pride in George Bush for his outward expressions of his faith, but if the fear of another terrorist attack has caused them to compromise their moral framework then they’re nothing more than unrepentant sinners and gutless cowards. Throwing away your values isn’t a sign of strength, it’s a sign of weakness.

On the partisan front, it’s especially pathetic to see the Democratic leadership cede the moral high ground to the Republican “rebels” and Christianity Today. You’d think showing strong opposition to an unpopular president would be second nature at this point, but instead the Democrats are once again sitting on the sidelines with their fingers crossed. Keep up the wait-and-see act, guys. It’s worked great so far.