Open Letter to Alberto Gonzales
signed by over 225 religious leaders,
including many from the Latino/a religious community,
some of whom are evangelical leaders.
Mr. Gonzales describes himself as an evangelical Christian.
The letter was released at a national press conference
on January 4, just ahead of the confirmation hearings.
An Open Letter to Alberto R. Gonzales
January 4, 2005
Hon. Alberto R. Gonzales
Counsel to the President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Judge Gonzales:
We, the undersigned religious leaders, greet your nomination to be Attorney General of the United States with grave concern.
As a self-professed evangelical Christian, you surely know that all people are created in the image of God. You see it as a moral imperative to treat each human being with reverence and dignity. We invite you to affirm with us that we are all are made in the image of God – every human being. We invite you to acknowledge that no legal category created by mere mortals can revoke that status. You understand that torture – the deliberate effort to undermine human dignity – is a grave sin and affront to God. You would not deny that the systemic use of torture on prisoners at Abu Ghraib was fundamentally immoral, as is the deliberate rendering of any detainee to authorities likely to commit torture.
We urge you to declare that any attempt to undermine international standards on torture, renditions, or habeas corpus is not only wrong but sinful. We are concerned that as White House counsel you have shown a troubling disregard for international laws against torture, for the legal rights of suspected "enemy combatants," and for the adverse consequences your decisions have had at home and abroad.
How could you have written a series of legal memos that disrespected international law and invited these abuses? How could you have justified the use of torture and disavowed protections for prisoners of war? How could you have referred to the Geneva Conventions as quaint and obsolete. We fear that your legal judgments have paved the way to torture and abuse.
We therefore call upon you
To denounce the use of torture under any circumstances;
To affirm, with the Supreme Court, that it is unconstitutional to imprison anyone designated as an "enemy combatant" for months without access to lawyers or the right to challenge their detentions in court;
To affirm the binding legality of the Geneva Conventions and the laws of war;
And to reject the practice of "extraordinary rendition," at home and abroad, by which terrorist suspects are sent to countries that practice torture for interrogation.
We believe, as you do, that the United States must be an example of moral leadership in the world community. However, the events at Abu Ghraib have gravely compromised America's moral authority. We ask that you commit yourself as Attorney General to repairing that damage by articulating and enforcing legal policies that reject the use of torture, embrace and advance standards of international law, and honor the dignity of all of God's creation.
With prayers for wisdom and grace,
Over 225 Religious Leaders
(Affiliations listed for identification only)
Rev. Dr. George Hunsinger, Princeton Theological Seminary
Coordinator: Church Folks for a Better America
Dr. C. René Padilla, General Secretary for Latin America, IFES
Sr. Dianna Ortiz, director, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International
Rabbi Arthur Waskow, The Shalom Center
Sr. Joan Chittister, OSB
Dr. Susan Thistlethwaite, President, Chicago Theological Seminary
Mr. Jim Wallis, Editor, Sojourners
Dr. Ron Sider, President, Evangelicals for Social Action
Dr. Anthony Campolo, Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education
Rev. Jimmy R. Allen, Past President of the Southern Baptist Convention
Dr. Rubén Rosario Rodríguez, St. Louis University
Dr. Juanita Jartu Jolly, Agape Christian Tabernacle
Rev. Victor Aloyo, Jr., Director of Vocations, Princeton Theological Seminary
Rev. Alexia Salvatierra, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice
Pastor Amaury Tañón-Santos, American Baptist Churches
The Rev. John E. Denaro, Episcopal Migration Ministries
Rabbi Michael Lerner, The TIKKUN Community
Dr. Stanley Hauerwas, The Divinity School of Duke University
Bishop Thomas J. Gumbleton, Aux. Bishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit
Bishop James H. Burch, Catholic Diocese of One Spirit
Rev. Dr. Joseph C. Hough, Jr., President, Union Theological Seminary
Rabbi Mordechai Liebling, The Shefa Fund
Rev. Dr. James H. Cone, Union Theological Seminary
Dr. Teresa Whitehurst, Jesus on the Family Institute
Dr. Glen Stassen, Fuller Theological Seminary
Rabbi Brian Walt, Rabbis for Human Rights North America
Rev. Romal Tune, African American Ministers Council
Rev. Dr. Therese M. Becker, Department of Spiritual Care, University of Chicago Hospitals
Rabbi Shirley Idelson, Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
Rev. Theophlus Caviness, Greater Abyssinia, Cleveland, OH
Rev. Violete Dease, Abyssinian Baptist, Harlem, NY
Dr. Paul H. Sherry, National Council of Churches of Christ
Rev. Dr. John McEntyre, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
© 2004-2005 Church Folks for a Better America - All Rights Reserved
A Project of the Peace Action Education Fund, educational arm of the
Coalition for Peace Action, 40 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, NJ 08542