First Email from the 2009 Episcopal Convention

Dear Family and Friends,

The General Convention is a window into the Episcopal Church.

The exhibit hall is one example.  We see the foolish expenditure of lavish booths — some with piles of silver and gold chalices costing thousands and thousands of dollars — displayed in architecturally marvelous booths.  There are also booths of indigenous people around the world selling various items to support their very lives.  There are a few progressive movers and shakers — troublers of Israel — who want justice to flow in every direction.  And sales of Bishop’s Blend Coffee to help poor coffee farmers.  Publishers sell mostly expensive books on prayer, bible study, and self improvement.

The debates have been thoughtful and generous — as far as I have seen.  Bobby Dellelo has covered the House of Deputies.  I am now in the House of Bishops as they debate the possibility of studying possible liturgies for blessing same gender couples.

I fear that the General Convention will — inadvertently — condone torture INSIDE American jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers.   The unintended consequences of C020’s silence on torture in America is, in fact, condoning torture in America.

Here is the current resolution against torture — C020.

CURRENT VARIANT
/Resolution:/    *C020*
/Title:/    *Condemnation of Torture*
/Topic:/    *Human Rights*
/Committee:/    *09 – National and International Concerns*
/House of Initial Action:/    *Deputies*
/Proposer:/    *Diocese of Newark*

————————————————————————

/ Resolved,/ the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General
Convention condemn the use of torture and the practice of extraordinary
rendition by the United States and any government, individual or
organization in any location in the world; and be it further

/Resolved, that Episcopalians shall not engage in, order, or assist in
the torture of any human being, and shall not counsel the use of torture
for intelligence gathering or any other purpose; and be it further/

/Resolved, that lawyers who are Episcopalians and dioceses are urged to
procure or provide pro bono legal counsel to help defend any
Episcopalian in military, police, civilian governmental or contractor
service who faces discharge or disciplinary action for refusing to
order, engage or assist in torture, or for refusing to approve or to
provide counsel justifying the use of torture for any purpose, or who
faces discharge or disciplinary action for exposing such practices; and
be it further/

/Resolved/, That the General Convention call upon the United States
government, and all governments, individuals and organizations in any
location in the world to comply with Geneva Conventions and the United
Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the administration of
Justice, enacting policies to prevent its use /the use or torture and
/extraordinary rendition both domestically and abroad/; and be it further/

/Resolved, that the General Convention call upon the President and
Congress to devise and implement truth and reconciliation-based methods
of accountability to make transparent to the American people
governmental practices or torture and extraordinary rendition./
Members of the National and International Issues legislative committee told me that it does not refer to torture in our jails, prisons and immigration detention centers.

—————————————————————————–
So we have asked a few bishops and a few deputies to add the following phrase to C020:

including American jails, prisons and immigration detention centers

Sadly enough — if they only condemn FOREIGN torture they are offering silent acceptance of domestic torture.  They will have failed to consider Sheldon Weinstein — attacked in his cell on April 20, 2009 in a Maine Prison.  He was a sex offender.  The guards left his cell door open.  Guards are aware that sex offenders are often killed by other prisoners.  He was kicked in the groin over and over again.  He died four days later. Nothing new.  Just what happens in prison.

One can see Maine guards Macing a naked prisoner in the face after he is strapped into a restraint chair.  It’s on the web at:  CLICK HERE

A BBC documentary shows torture in jails and prisons all over America:  http://novakeo.com/?p=109

Some things have really helped our cause:

Last night Malcolm Boyd gave a DYNAMIC poetry reading backed by inspired jazz musicians — guitar, piano and drums.  The reading was held in the Jazz Kitchen, a Disneyland bar.  Boyd was flying high — soft gentle poems in loving phrases — loud strident rhythms of painful subjects.  Boyd explained about torture INSIDE America — and recited the poem in the second attachment.  He wrote this poem in response to a request from Katrina’s Dream — about torture in American prisons and about Bobby Dellelo.  For a press release about Boyd —  CLICK HERE

On Sunday Bobby Dellelo gave a moving personal talk as one of the Consultation speakers.  Ed Rodman introduced him and led a question session afterwards.  People listened to Bobby and asked good questions.

Now it is late at night.  Time for sleep.

Blessings always,

George

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