CNN’s Carol Costello: Can You Be Pro-Life and Pro-Death Penalty?

costelloI missed this great op-ed piece by CNN’s Carol Costello that ran in May on the consistent ethic of life.

I find myself perpetually, uncomfortably, and instinctively part of the 8% of Americans who believe that both abortion and the death penalty are affronts to the God of Life and the call to reconciliation.

But there’s a vast ethical and moral difference between the “principalities and powers” of State-imposed execution and the pastoral universe of multivalent forces that may press down on a woman and her family. The ethic is engaged consistently: prophetically against the State, and pastorally with a human being.

Here’s Carol Costello:

Can you be pro-life and pro-death penalty?

It’s a question more than one person I know is asking after Oklahoma’s botched execution of Clayton Lockett. Not necessarily because of the way Oklahoma tortuously executed the convicted killer, but because of the hard-core way some reacted to Lockett’s execution.

Like Mike Christian. The pro-life Oklahoma state representative told The Associated Press, “I realize this may sound harsh, but as a father and former lawman, I really don’t care if it’s by lethal injection, by the electric chair, firing squad, hanging, the guillotine or being fed to the lions.”

He also threatened to impeach judges who dared delay executions for any reason.

This is from a man who is so strongly pro-life he voted for eight bills in four years to prevent women in Oklahoma from terminating their pregnancies, or, as many who oppose abortion say, “killing babies.”

Color me confused. So, Rep. Christian says it’s OK to kill, unless you’re a woman who wants to end her pregnancy?
As I told my friends during a heated debate last weekend, that smacks of hypocrisy.

The only nonhypocritical viewpoint, I argued, exists in the Catholic Church.

Catholics believe in the “Consistent Ethic of Life.” As Georgetown’s Father Thomas Reese puts it, “we are concerned about a person from womb to tomb.”

“Life is something that comes from God and shouldn’t be taken away by man,” Reese told me.

Put simply, the Catholic Church opposes abortion and the death penalty. Period. Except nothing in life is that simple. Especially our collective views on the death penalty and abortion.
If you ask a Southern Baptist, he or she will likely tell you the Catholic Church is wrong.

“There is no contradiction here,” R. Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, told me, referring to Rep. Christian’s underlying position. …..

Read the rest here.

Waterboarding is “Tip of the Iceberg” says U.S. Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley

Yesterday on CNN Live, Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley outlined how waterboarding is only the “tip of the iceberg” when it comes to torture by U.S. military and paramilitary contractors.

Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111 and tell President Obama to not back down on closing Guantanamo.

Last February, before Binyam’s release, Bradley wrote a piece for The Guardian outlining in greater detail her experience representing Binyam. Here’s an excerpt:

I am a lawyer and a soldier, and I act for [UK citizen] Binyam Mohamed, who is currently on hunger strike in Guantánamo Bay. …

The Joint Task Force, which runs Guantánamo Bay, gives me no information about Binyam. When I called to enquire about his condition, they said first, that they would look into it and then that they would tell me nothing and that I should make a Freedom of Information request, which would have taken months to process. Therefore, whenever I want information about Binyam, I have to make the 5-hour trip to Guantánamo. Each time, he asks why he is still there.

It is worth bearing in mind that all charges against Binyam have been dropped and that Binyam’s chief prosecutor resigned, citing the unfairness of the system.

I profoundly hope that he is not being kept in Guantánamo to avoid information surrounding his rendition and torture coming out.

Read Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley’s full commentary in The Guardian.

Read the transcript of Clive Stafford Smith and Lt. Col. Yvonne Bradley’s address to a UK Parliament subcommittee on “extraordinary rendition” about the Guantanamo prisoners the two are representing.

Does Wearing a Cross Make You a Torture-Supporter?

witness-against-tortureorigOver at Brian McLaren’s blog he’s been responding to the the recent Pew Forum study, reported by CNN.com, that correlates “White evangelical Protestants with those most likely to say that torture is often or sometimes justified.”

More than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Additionally, evangelical pastor Gabe Salguero wrote a great piece in The Washington Post also responding to the data:

Torture is morally reprehensible. Christians, who serve a Christ who was tortured and murdered by a brutal Empire should know this to be true. Torture is not just an affront to the human dignity of the person being tortured but also on the one’s who are dong the torturing. Any society that sanctions torture has lost its moral compass and threatens the ethical integrity of all its people.

What about the Catholics?

The Pew research also shows that 19 percent of non-Hispanic Catholics think that torture “can often be justified.” This is the highest percentage of the religious breakdowns in this category. Nearly half of the Catholic interviewed said that torture “can often be” or “can sometimes be” justified.

But, on the same day that the report was released, 62 members of Witness Against Torture, started by a group of Catholics, were arrested at the gates of the White House demanding that the Obama administration support a criminal inquiry into torture under the Bush administration and the release of innocent detainees still held at the Guantanamo Bay concentration camp.

Each of those arrested wore the name of a Guantanamo inmate who had been cleared for release or who had died in prison.

“We sent a powerful message to the Obama administration and beyond,” said Witness Against Torture’s Matthew Daloisio, “that the rule of law can be restored only if the law is enforced. President Obama cannot deny indefinitely the mounting evidence of torture under Bush, and must move to hold those who committed, ordered, and justified torture to account.”

This civil disobedience was the culmination of a 100 Days Campaign to shut down Guantanamo.

Send these folks a note of thanks for representing true Christianity at the White House yesterday.