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Come Together to Combat Torture

by Becky Garrison 02-16-2011
published in the Sojourners Blog Feb. 16

The New Evangelical Partnership is a co-sponsor of this event. David Gushee and Richard Cizik will both be speaking, and a breakfast reception for NEP friends will be held on Saturday, March 26th. Please register for this important conference at http://divinity.duke.edu/moral-consensus-against-torture.

Duke Divinity School is hosting an inter-faith conference on torture from March 25 to 26, with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), the Duke Human Rights Center, and the North Carolina Council of Churches. When I spoke to the faculty coordinator, Dr. Amy Laura Hall, she exclaimed, “It’s about damn time, but better late than never!” I then asked her a few questions relating to this event:

How did this conference come into being?
A group of attentive students and a local clergyman noted last semester that many Christians around the country have managed to avoid attention to the tragic details of our two wars — the use of torture, the military suicide rate, the number of civilians killed. Many of our current seminary students do not even have a friend or family member who has dealt personally with these brutal specifics. Many come from an economic bracket that hasn’t been recruited for enlistment. Isaac Villegas, Matt Elia, and Dr. Kara Slade came up with the Proper29 Project, to encourage seminary graduates around the country to preach about war on Christ the King Sunday. We wanted, in Matt’s words, “to turn people’s eyes” toward news we don’t really want to see. Many of us who can avoid looking at torture have been averting our eyes, I’d say, trying hard just not to look. When George Hunsinger (of Princeton Seminary) called us to ask about collaboration with NRCAT, we jumped at the chance.

Evangelicals and Islam

From the Washington Post's "On Faith" blog
By Katherine Marshall, Georgetown University

A group of American Christians, most of them evangelicals, met for four days last weekend with a distinguished group of Moroccans at Eastern Mennonite University, concluding with a public session Monday at Georgetown University's Berkley Center.

To an outsider, the point of the conclave was not easy to fathom. It opened with a showing of a terrifying film about nuclear threats: Countdown to Zero, and concluded with heartfelt statements of shared interests and values. What was it all about? Why did Morocco's busy ambassador to the United States and other distinguished Moroccans devote so much time to the discussion?

Richard Cizik, founder of a new movement of evangelicals he describes as "young in spirit" (the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good) gave some clues as he spoke Monday. Quoting from a post-2010 election survey by the Public Religion Research Institute, he noted that while 45 percent of Americans said they thought the values of Islam are at odds with American values, the figure was much higher (57 percent) for white evangelicals who responded to the survey. This was the highest recorded percentage among the defined groups (Catholics followed with 53 percent). We must, Cizik said, combat the lurking and dangerous idea that Islam is the new "evil empire".

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