Faith groups ask Obama to ban use of torture

WASHINGTON — Hundreds of people rallied outside the White House Nov. 12 as religious leaders from a number of faiths met with members of Congress while also urging President-elect Barack Obama to sign an executive order banning torture.

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT)'s "Day of Witness" included a procession of people carrying anti-torture banners, many of which had been hanging in their houses of worship, that ended at the White House.

"At this moment of hope, we call audaciously for moral leadership that will be welcomed throughout the world as the U.S. government and our people resume our aspiration to be guided through the night with a light from above," said Rabbi Gerry Serotta, chair of the group Rabbis for Human Rights.

Religious leaders are also asking members of Congress to form a committee to investigate the use of torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

"The use of torture by the United States in recent years, and our refusal to renounce its use, has diminished us as a nation not only in the eyes of our own citizens, but in the eyes of the world," said the Rev. John Thomas, president and general minister of the United Church of Christ.

Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., chairman of the Select Intelligence Oversight Panel, issued a statement in support of NRCAT, saying that legislation on the issue would still be needed, but President-elect Obama will have the opportunity to "put an immediate halt to our government's use of torture during interrogations and to put an end to the practice of secret detentions."

"As religious leaders in America, it is our moral obligation to stand up for human rights and call upon our government to ensure that the United States continues to uphold the standards set forth by these international treaties and conventions," said Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America.

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