Interestingly, the more I search the web and the more I listen to others discuss Abu Ghraib and the things that happened there versus the things that keep happening to U.S. Soldiers (i.e. beheadings and mafia-style executions), the more I am dismayed at the Christian response.
Once again, I feel that we are falling into the same religious right/ religious left arguments. Of course, Sojourners speaks out against the injustices while Concerned Women for America and other Right-Wing organizations focus on how bad the other guys are.
Christianity Today has done a good job gathering these assorted statements together for a Abu Ghraib and the Church-One-Stop-Shopping Supermarket of info.
The most disturbing thing I read, as reported by Ted Olson is "from Spec. Joseph M. Darby, who reportedly confronted Spec. Charles A. Graner Jr.?apparent ringleader of the prison abuse?about the activities. Darby later told investigators that Graner told him, "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'"
Frightening that our Christian faith stands very little chance in such an environment as a Wartime Prison. Where does one's identity ultimately lie, in Christ or as an Patriotic American Soldier and M.P. who has been taught that these Iraqis are less human than we are (as Americans)- not officially, but I think many of us would agree with this statement when we are not trying to feel better about ourselves.
Sadly, the identity and loyalty questions become too difficult to deal with in such an environment, and sadly, I know that I may succumb to a "corrections officer" standard in such a time, as opposed to a "Christian standard", which is deemed unrealistic or naive in wartime.
However, as I saw the title of the best piece I have read on a Christian response to the abuses, from Steven Gertz, we must ask ourselves the age-old (and seemingly immature based upon the countless students who were marketed to death without ever understanding its implications) question... WHAT WOULD JESUS DO AT Abu Ghraib?
Interestingly, this is one of the times that Scripture is explicit and we have very little choice, but to understand and follow it, as opposed to the "realistic" option, which is to spiritualize it, and therefore not take it seriously.
I simply turn to the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. Please refer to verses 31-46 for proper context. However, remember these words from Jesus...
"I was in prison and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him... (I hate when people do this to Scripture, but I am not changing the meaning through this horrible exercise) when did we see you in prison and go visit you. The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me... (then to those who are cursed he says) I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you? He will reply, ' I tell you the truth, whatever you DID NOT do for the least of these, you did not do for me.' Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
It is not about Rules of War or Geneva Conventions or International Red Crosses or having a higher morality and ethic than the other guys. It is not about a few bad apples, the Golden Rule, Presidential Authority or memos from the Justice Department and Defense Department.
For Christians, including the President and Attorney General, along with some of the guards at Abu Ghraib, it is not even about a "proper Christian witness." It is about following some of the strongest words Jesus had to say during his time on earth. It is about unquestionable loyalty to our Commander-In-Chief and His Orders.
Sorry to get so fired up. But, this seems pretty back and white to a guy who usually sees shades of gray (and by the way, I am not naive enough to think the US and its army will be following Christian principles and time soon- however to all of my friends who believe we should be putting 10 Commandments in public spaces and re-establishing prayer in schools and having the faith our founding fathers, maybe we should expect Christians in the public arena to simply follow the words of Christ- I think it would do a lot more good in the long run).