This week, my church, the Pacific Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Astoria, took the unprecedented step, along with the Clatsop County Civil Rights Defense Committee, of placing a 1/4-page ad in your paper, asking the churches and people of our region to petition their leaders to stop the torture of detainees in our custody. This is in keeping with the Unitarian Universalist Association's campaign to end the use of torture by our government.

Torture, hiding prisoners from Red Cross inspection teams, and "extraordinary rendition," a procedure by which prisoners are shipped to foreign countries to be interrogated outside the protections of the U. S. Constitution, violate not just the Constitution, but everything this country stands for. The Supreme Court has ruled that U.S. held prisoners are entitled to due process, but the Bush Administration has ignored that ruling. The result has been a loss of the good opinion of mankind, to use the gender specific terms of the Declaration of Independence.

It is tempting to argue that torture is an ineffective means of gathering information, but that is beside the point. Torture is wrong, and it doesn't matter if it is effective or not. Moral ends do not justify immoral means. Some argue that the terrorists show no mercy, so why should we show them mercy? Even if we accept that reasoning, which I don't, we don't really know if any given detainee is guilty or innocent, knowledgeable or ignorant. So how many innocent people are we willing to torture in order to pay back the ones who are guilty?

To those Christians who are wavering on this point, I suggest you ask, What would Jesus do? But let us not discriminate: What would Moses do? What would Buddha do? What would Gandhi do? What would Mohammed do? Can anyone believe that the great moral leaders of the world would have approved of our government's torture policies?

It is time to end the shameful silence on this issue. Please join us in our petition.

Frank Logan, President, Pacific Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Ocean Park, Wash.


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