“Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.” (Hebrews 13:3)
The PC(USA) Office of Public Witness has teamed up with the National Religious Campaign against Torture (NRCAT) to encourage us to remember that June is Torture Awareness Month. The annual focus in that regard is on the 26th, which is the International Day Against Torture.
One of the themes this year is on the terrible impact that prolonged solitary confinement has on prisoners in the US. The NRCAT website reports that those in solitary “typically spend 23 hours per day in their cells and exercise alone for the remaining hour. As a result, many experience paranoia, delusions, and other long-term mental harm. Prolonged solitary confinement destroys prisoners’ minds, denies the opportunity for community, and violates the inherent, God-given dignity and worth of every person.”
In “confronting the culture of torture,” as the image taken from the Office of Public Witness’ blog says, we address a number of mentalities. Among them would be one that responds to prisoners damaged by extended time in “the hole,” with the comment, “Too bad, that’s what you get! You give up your rights when you go to prison.”
But that’s looking at it backwards. No one deserves to be tortured. When people are tortured, so is the God in whose image they are made.