US Evangelicals condemn torture by troops

By staff writers
March 12, 2007

A major US association of evangelical Christians has condemned torture by the US military and reaffirmed its commitment to environmental activism.

"United States law and military doctrine has banned the resort to torture or cruel and degrading treatment. Tragically, documented cases of torture and inhumane and cruel behaviour have occurred at various sites in the war on terror," the National Association of Evangelicals said in a statement.

"Current law opens procedural loopholes for more to continue," said the statement endorsed by the association's board of directors at its annual meeting in Eden, Minnesota, over the weekend.

It was the first big NAE meeting since its former president Ted Haggard stepped down in November over a gay-sex scandal.

Evangelical Christians have been among the staunchest supporters of the US war in Iraq and the broader war on terror and many rankle at criticism of the American military which they see as unpatriotic and even un-Christian.

Divisions have emerged among the 60 million US evangelicals as prominent figures also publicly embrace causes such as global warming that are usually associated with the left of America's political divide.

In June last year, coinciding with renewed publicity about Guantanamo Bay, twenty-seven American religious leaders - including prominent evangelicals - signed a public statement calling for the elimination of torture as a part of US policy.

Evangelicals have tended to be more vocal on issues such as abortion and gay marriage - issues which President George W. Bush's Republican Party has used to get its supporters to the ballot box.

The NAE, with 30 million members, is also socially conservative but it sees room on its Christian agenda for activism in other areas.

But the new positions that evangelicals are taking are at odds with others within the movement.

Prominent televangelist and Republican Party stalwart Jerry Falwell has publicly questioned the science of global warming.

Dr James Dobson, chairman of the religious right advocacy group 'Focus on the Family' regards climate change as a "distraction" from issues such as opposing abortion.

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