Last week we noted that Richard Land had become the first (and only, as far as we know) leader of the Religious Right to state unequivocally that he believes waterboarding is torture and decry its use:
“I consider waterboarding torture,” Land said. “One of the definitions of torture is that it causes permanent physical harm. I can’t separate physical from psychological. And I can’t imagine that being repeatedly subjected to the feeling of drowning would not, in some cases, cause lasting psychological trauma.”
Land explained that while he supports capital punishment for convicted killers, he denounces torture in all cases because he’s compelled to honor the image of God as reflected in all human beings — even suspected terrorists. To justify waterboarding on the grounds that it helps save lives is to suggest that ends justify means, Land said, adding: “that is a very slippery slope that leads to dark and dangerous places.”
“If the end justifies the means, then where do you draw the line?” Land said. “It’s a moveable line. It’s in pencil, not in ink. I believe there are absolutes. There are some things we must never do.”
Today, the AP reports that Gary Bauer does not agree and really thinks that the important question is not so much “would Jesus torture?” but rather “would Jesus allow his followers to torture?” And Bauer declares that he certainly would:
Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years, said the discussion should not come down to “Would Jesus torture?”
“There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn’t do because he’s the son of God,” he said. “I can’t imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is, ‘What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?'”
Bauer said the answer is “it depends” — but the moral equation changes when the suspect is not a soldier captured on a battlefield but a terrorist who may have knowledge of an impending attack. He said he does not consider water-boarding — a form of interrogation that simulates drowning — to be torture.
“I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information,” Bauer said.
So not only would Jesus approve of the use of torture, he might even consider anyone who refused to do so “morally suspect.”
Here is your “moral majority” in action.