NRCAT Letter to Pres. Obama: Requesting Executive Order to End Torture

January 9, 2009


The Honorable Barack Obama
Presidential Transition Team
451 6th St., NW
Washington, DC 20001
Dear President-elect Obama:
We appreciate and value your focus on uniting people to face the many challenges that lie ahead as your inauguration approaches. One of those challenges is to restore our nationâ??s moral standing in the world by rejecting the practice of torture.
On Human Rights Day, December 10, 2008, you affirmed â??agreements Americans helped forge â?? the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Geneva Conventions, and treaties against torture and genocideâ? and declared that this commitment to inalienable human rights â??unites us with people from every country and culture.â?
While we represent a wide diversity of Americaâ??s faith traditions, we all believe in the inherent worth and dignity of all human life. Respect for the dignity of every person must serve as the foundation for security, justice and peace. Torture is incompatible with the tenets of our faiths and is contrary to international and U.S. law.
We have enclosed a Declaration of Principles for a Presidential Executive Order banning torture which has been endorsed by religious leaders, and foreign affairs specialists and former military officers. We respectfully ask you to review this Declaration of Principles and issue an executive order on Inauguration Day or as early as possible. We believe such a step will help the United States to regain the moral high ground and restore our credibility within the international community at this critical time.
We ask the Divine for blessings on you and your Administration as you address the difficult issues that confront our nation and world. May you be granted strength and wisdom for the challenges ahead.
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard
Chairman, Committee on International
Justice and Peace, United States
Conference of Catholic Bishops
Rabbi Steve Gutow
Jewish Council for Public Affairs
Rev. Dr. David Gushee
Evangelicals for Human Rights
Dr. Ingrid Mattson
Islamic Society of North America
Archbishop Vicken
Diocesan Legate
Armenian Church of America
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer
President, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church
Bishop Mark S. Hanson
Presiding Bishop
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Rabbi David Saperstein
Director, Religious Action Center
Union of Reform Judaism
Rev. Dr. Wesley Granberg-Michaelson
General Secretary
Reformed Church in America
Rev. Dr. Stan Hastey
Minister for Mission & Ecumenism
Alliance of Baptists
Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori
Presiding Bishop
Episcopal Church
Rev. Dr. Michael Kinnamon
General Secretary
National Council of Churches
Rabbi Peter S. Knobel
Central Conference of American Rabbis
Mary Ellen McNish
American Friends Service Committee
Rev. Dr. A. Roy Medley
General Secretary
American Baptist Churches in the USA
National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá'ís of the United States
Stanley J. Noffsinger
General Secretary
Church of the Brethren
Rev. Gradye Parsons
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Presbyterian Church, USA
Sheetal D. Shah
Hindu American Foundation
Rabbi Eric Yoffie
Union for Reform Judaism
Rev. Dr. John H. Thomas
General Minister and President
United Church of Christ
James Schrag
Executive Director
Mennonite Church USA
Rev. William G. Sinkford
Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations
Rabbi Toba Spitzer
Reconstructionist Rabbinical Association
Dr. Sayyid M. Syeed
National Director, Interfaith and
Community Alliances
Islamic Society of North America
Rabbi Brian Walt
Executive Director
Rabbis for Human Rights â?? North America
Rev. Sharon E. Watkins
General Minister and President
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
Rabbi Leonard Gordon
Rabbinical Assembly Social Action Committee
Nancy Ratzan
National Council of Jewish Women
Rabbi Shawn Zevit
Director of Outreach and Tikkun Olam
Jewish Reconstructionist Federation
Bishop Demetrios of Mokissos
Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Chicago
Archbishop Nicolae Condrea
Romanian Orthodox Archdiocese in the Americas
Rabbi Gerry Serotta
Rabbis for Human Rights â?? North America
Jim Winkler
General Secretary
General Board of Church and Society
United Methodist Church