Interfaith Conference against Torture to be Held at Princeton Seminary

( [email protected] ) Dec 30, 2005 10:26 AM EST

Organizers of an interfaith conference will launch a national religious campaign against torture at Princeton Theological Seminary in January.

The national gathering, entitled “Theology, International Law, and Torture: A Conference on Human Rights and Religious Commitment,” will bring religious leaders of different faiths, law experts, and human rights advocates to Princeton, N.J., on Jan. 13-15.

According to the Rev. Dr. George Hunsinger, Convener of the Conference and a Professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, the goal of the conference is “to launch a national religious campaign against torture, and to educate and empower religious communities across the U.S. to become involved in this critical moral and spiritual issue.”

“While some progress has been made with the recent passage of the McCain amendment, it is sadly surrounded by loopholes that will allow torture by the U.S. to continue,” Hunsinger said in a press statement. “Already Attorney General Gonzales has defined 'torture' as taking place only when harm near to death is inflicted. A companion amendment that also passed will effectively exempt the detainees at Guantanamo Bay from any legal protection under the ban.

“Moreover, the McCain provision is tied to the Army Field Manual, which is now being revised to permit many forms of interrogation formerly considered torture, or cruel and inhumane treatment,” he added.

The three-day conference is co-sponsored by Church Folks for a Better America, the Peace Action Education Fund of the Coalition for Peace Action, the Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, and Human Rights First.

“This event is an effort to unify and mobilize religious communities on a fundamental issue of faith and morality: torture,” said the Rev. Robert Moore, Executive Director of the Princeton-based Coalition for Peace Action, one of the Conference’s co-sponsors.

“Every person is created in the image of God and thereby has a fundamental dignity that forbids torture of any person,” he continued. “This conference will bring together an extraordinary range of religious leaders and top experts on human rights to launch a campaign aimed at strongly addressing this basic issue.”

Among the featured voices at the conference are Mark Danner, author of “Torture and Truth;” James Yee, former Muslim Chaplain at Guantanamo Bay; Sr. Dianna Ortiz, a torture survivo; Rabbi Edward Feld, Jewish Theological Seminary; and Admiral John Hutson, retired Judge Advocate General.