Prisons have become an important part of American culture. It has assimilated into the United States of America’s cultural, economic, and political spheres (USA). The United States constructed an average of one new jail each week between 1976 and 2000, resulting in a significant rise in the number of individuals incarcerated (Franklin). The present prison and jail population has increased by more than two million people in recent years. America, without a question, tops the globe in terms of the number of people incarcerated, which is a shame. The US jail system has forced millions of people to live under continuous fear of torture. This is especially true for the 6.9 million people in the United States who are now imprisoned or subject to the criminal justice system in some manner (Franklin). More insidiously, the jail system has basically aided in the normalization, legalization, and acceptance of torture in American society. Because it is regarded a lawful form of both punishment and avoidance, imprisonment may be characterized as a kind of torture. Furthermore, the American jail system is often constructed and operated in such a way as to maximize filth, cruelty, and punishment. “Beatings, electric shock, prolonged exposure to heat and even immersion in scalding water, sodomy with riot batons, nightsticks, flashlights, and broom handles, shackled prisoners forced to lie in their own excrement for hours or even days, months of solitary confinement, rape and murder by guards or prisoners instructed by guards” (Franklin) are all commonplace within the cl.
CIA Black Sites, Prison Torture and Christian Beliefs
Torture of any kind is unethical. The most important thing to stress is the need for Christians to resist not just torture, but also the legal gymnastics used to establish the extra-legal physical places where torture occurs. The torture phenomena in the United States is based on places like the CIA black sites, which are outside of any legal authority. The Christian faith contrasts sharply with what is practiced inside the confines of a jail in the United States. The legal rule is provisionary of god’s reign, according to theology based on the bible and Christian tradition. The feasibility of torture as practiced by humanity is not easily answered by Christianity. It does give Christians hope for something they should value and regard even more than their own personal and national security. Because portrayals of black sites are as elusive as efforts to define their legal status, a timeline of relevant material from the last eight years may effectively help in comprehending the phenomena of black sites. It is true that black sites operate beyond the scope of international and, for all intents and purposes, American law. However, the way in which they do so is dependent on and logically compatible with the power and responsibility divisions that exist among various government agencies and departments, especially the Pentagon, FBI, and CIA.
The dark sites are on the outside of what the average person can see, yet they are surrounded by necessary temporary legal barriers. Following the 9/11 attacks, the CIA was given permission to operate and carry out its operations without any legal constraints. By late 2001, the CIA had run out of locations to conceal its high-value prisoners due to its newfound freedom. Again, the increased flexibility given to the CIA sparked a desire to have more control over their research without relying on outside help. As a result, the government of the United States of America set aside millions of dollars to build private prisons dedicated only to the CIA. Black sites are the names given to these private prisons. In Kabul, the earliest recognized and significant black site was built on an abandoned industrial site known as the’salt pit.’ In the present day, black sites exists in most parts of the world due to widespread terrorism. Although the use of black sites was banned after the year of 2006, CIA still manages to practice and maintain their autonomous robust power by keeping some of the banned sites operational. In the black sites, there was no possibility of diminishing the torture of an individual even if he/she obeyed the rules, as there was no significance of rules in black sites (Gushee and Zimmer, 246). Many Christians in America are struggling how to respond to this situation, as there is a conflict in realizing the relationship between law, politics, and the kingdom of god.
Renowned theologian, Wolfhart Pannenberg, articulates that one traditional Christian method of relating faith and culture by demonstrating how political and legal orders prepare our society for the Almighty’s redemption of all creations. The theology emphasizes the fact that an individual belonging to the Christian religion, cannot under any circumstances, accept the presence of extra legal spaces, let alone the torture that summons in these places. Pannenberg emphasized on the fact that the almighty is righteous, and in the future god will come to rule its creation directly establishing an ideal order that will consist of “justice, peace, and the mutual fellowship of all humanity” (Gushee and Zimmer, 246). The renowned theologian emphasizes that through the process of life and death, and resurrections of Jesus Christ, this particular end-of-time rule is present to us as a promise. We all are waiting for the fulfillment of this promise with hope. Christian life is sustained amidst a hopeful anticipation of the time, when the almighty will reign as the supreme power. The theories acknowledge that, Christians sanctioning black sites or any spheres of action without legal jurisdiction is essentially immoral. It is certain that god, is the only supreme power who judges and redeems individuals. From a Christians perspective to eliminate any kind of action that they practice in their real life is to falsely believe what a human being pretends to be before god. This is precisely the practice of the black sites. The extra legal status of the black sites exempts the tortures from judgment by the law. Thereby an individual falsely imagine god turning a blind eye towards the relationship that links torture and the law to each other. However, in true essence of Christianity god’s action is not indifferent in nature rather it consists of judgment, redemption, and reconciliation. This judgment, redemption and reconciliation consider both the torture and the law in their relation to each other, and to the rest of the creation. It emphasizes that, neither the phenomenon of torture, nor the legal systems are completed ends in themselves. Rather, the ends of both are sustained in the Almighty’s redemption of each within the broader context of divinely creation and sustained existence. (Gushee and Zimmer, 243-247)
Torture in American jails has been a common occurrence from the beginning of recorded history. Torture is still practiced in different parts of America in this day and age. Many American news networks and other outlets across the globe covered evidence of inhumane treatment extensively. Sometimes the incidents are covered up by the officials of the CIA and the American government. The phenomenon of torture and Christianity does not go hand in hand, as Christianity does not support torture in any form to a fellow brother. Christianity emphasizes that nothing should be practiced outside the jurisdiction, and also the fact that god is the ultimate creator of mankind and the supreme power of judgment lies in his hand.
- Franklin, Bruce H. American prison and the normalization of torture, n.d., April 21, 2012, from: http://www.historiansagainstwar.org/resources/torture/brucefranklin.html
- Gushee, David and Zimmer, Drew, Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul, USA, Mercer University Press, 2010