22nd June, 2011
Torture is always wrong and is incompatible with the teachings of Jesus, according to statement from the Baptist World Alliance.
While acknowledging that governments have a responsibility to protect their people from external and domestic threats, the BWA statement - released this week - says governments are not permitted to use any means to do so.
"Protecting citizens from harm is a very high good, but it is not such an absolute good that it can be defended 'by any means necessary', to borrow one of history's most damaging concepts," says the statement.
The BWA say torture is one of three acts prohibited under international law - the others being slavery and genocide - "which, under no circumstances, can be justified". This is the case despite a striking paradox - while a nation's soldiers are permitted to kill enemy combatants in a just war, soldiers are banned from torturing enemy soldiers once captured.
"Torture is wrong, always and everywhere. Each human is sacred in God's sight, and torture is an assault on that sacredness," says the statement. "Christians, as salt and light, should lead the way in their respective countries in the rejection of torture under all circumstances."
The BWA's General Council passed a resolution in 1984 affirming torture is "incompatible with the nature of the human person as created in the image of God" and imploring Baptists to "oppose torture in all its forms, condemning it as incompatible with the teachings of Jesus."
- DAVID ADAMS