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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Opening My Mail Again

Today I received mail from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which is taking a central moral problem raised in how we conduct our war against terror.  

  • Preventing Torture Everywhere‏

Dear NRCAT Supporters,

NRCAT is starting a campaign, called “Preventing Torture Everywhere,” to urge President Obama to sign a new treaty to help end torture. The treaty, called the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), requires participating nations to create mechanisms to prevent torture from occurring in detention centers, police stations, mental health hospitals, and prisons. It also permits international experts to inspect those facilities.
57 nations have ratified OPCAT and 22 additional nations have signed it. Unfortunately, the U.S. is not among them.
NRCAT is engaging in this effort for two reasons:
  • OPCAT could be very helpful in protecting prisoners in the U.S. from abuse, including the use of solitary confinement and the shackling of women prisoners during childbirth.
  • Ratifying OPCAT would enhance our government’s effectiveness and credibility in urging other countries to stop their use of torture and to ratify both the Convention Against Torture (the treaty prohibiting torture) and OPCAT.
Three requests from NRCAT:
1. Gather signatures in your congregation for NRCAT’s statement supporting OPCAT, a new treaty to prevent torture.
2. Show the videoPreventing Torture Everywhere in your congregation.
3. Urge your congregation or religious organization to endorse the statement.

Now, at the beginning of this multi-year campaign, NRCAT asks its member organizations and its supporters to carry out three tasks:
  1. Urge members of your congregation or religious organization to sign NRCAT’s statement supporting OPCAT. Use the petition version of the statement to collect the names. The names of everyone who signs the statement will be sent to the White House each year on Human Rights Day, December 10, until the President signs.
  2. Enable your congregation and other congregations you know to show the video Preventing Torture Everywhere and to use our Discussion Guide to facilitate the discussion. The 10-minute video features four victims of torture; Juan Mendez, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture; an attorney describing torture and abuse in U.S. prisons; and NRCAT leaders. It best lends itself to a small group discussion or an adult education setting. If your congregation has an adult class that meets weekly to address a variety of issues, you might consider suggesting a screening of the video. The video is available on DVD in our online store for $5.00 or for free download on our website.
  3. Urge your congregation and the regional and national bodies of your faith group to endorse the statement. Once that endorsement is confirmed, please report the good news to NRCAT.
NRCAT has created a number of resources to help you do these tasks, including a statement signed by 51 heads of faith groups and other religious leaders, the 10-minute video with discussion guide, a petition version of the statement, and a variety of background materials. All are available

We will be working on this task for the long term. But even a long term task needs a beginning. Now is the time to start. If NRCAT staff can be helpful to you as you do this important work, please contact us

By the way, please endorse the statement yourself if you have not done so.

Thank you for all of your efforts to end torture.  


Linda Gustitus, President
Rev. Richard L. Killmer, Executive Director

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