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Religious Leaders Urge Obama to Take Stand Against Torture

November 24, 2008

Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania's religious leaders are urging Barack Obama to remember the "golden rule." They say the president-elect has a unique opportunity to restore our country's moral compass by taking swift action to end the practice of cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners held in American facilities, and to prevent transfer of prisoners to countries that permit such treatment.

Specifically, religious groups are calling on Obama and Congressional leaders to take a stand against torture as one of their first orders of business in office. Sandra Strauss, director of public advocacy for the Pennsylvania Council of Churches, was part of a delegation of religious groups that recently visited Senators Bob Casey and Arlen Specter, and she hopes the senators will encourage Obama to issue an executive order banning torture of prisoners.

"We are asking them, over time, to also look at implementing a select committee that would look into all the problems that we have had with torture over the past few years."

Strauss believes Americans should treat others in the same way they want to be treated themselves.

"That is foundational for us and foundational for a moral society, and we would like to see that embodied in law here in the United States."

The Bush administration has said that some interrogation tactics, including waterboarding, are vital to national security. But Strauss says such acts of torture put our country and military service members in danger of retaliation by people who are not bound by rule of law.

Kelly Glorioso Fodel, Public News Service - PA