Torture, Baptism, and the Cross

Over the weekend, Sarah Palin succeeded in outraging Christians on both left and right with her statement that “waterboarding is how we baptize terrorists.” That her comments brought about a round of applause at the NRA convention is evidence of the complete moral bankruptcy of conservative politics and the profound lack of understanding of Christian history and theology.

It just so happens that today, April 28, is the tenth anniversary of the revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. That ten years later, some Americans still believe torture is morally acceptable and consistent with American ideals is repugnant. That people who call themselves Christian can advocate its use and compare it to the rite of initiation into Christianity is beyond belief.

Less than two weeks ago, Christians remembered the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth. Crucifixion was execution by torture, excruciating painful, done for no other reason than to strike terror in the hearts of Roman subjects.

Others have written about Palin’s sacrilegious statement. What’s particularly ironic is to think about torture and baptism in terms of the New Testament:

Therefore we have been baptized with him into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so that we too might walk in newness of life–(Romans 6:4)

Our Savior, Jesus Christ, was a victim of torture. For Christians to applaud, to laugh, at a comparison of torture and baptism is to be like those Roman soldiers who mocked and scorned Jesus.

Even if our President, Department of Justice, and the Court of Public Opinion refuses to bring to account all those who committed or advocated torture, we as a nation, we Christians will have to account for the evil that was perpetrated.

The Nation wonders whether we’ve learned anything in the ten years since Abu Ghraid