If You Want Information, Don’t Torture, Inquire of the Lord!

September 28, 2006 at 3:19 am | Posted in American politics, Church, Iraq, King George, Mormon, Religion, Torture, War on Terror | 11 Comments

What is the supposed purpose and design of torture….er, for our Republican crowd, “alternative set of procedures?” It is to get information, supposedly, right? What if, instead of torturing detainees….er, using alternative set of procedures….what if we ask God to reveal the movement of the enemy for us? The Apostle James has said: “If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to men liberally.” Why torture when God can tell you by simply kneeling in prayer? Moreover, which source of information would you trust more? A terrorist or the God of Heaven and Earth?

Bush says:

“This program has been, and remains, one of the most vital tools in our war against the terrorists,” Bush said.

“Were it not for this program, our intelligence community believes that al-Qaida and its allies would have succeeded in launching another attack against the American homeland.”

Okay, so we get it. Bush thinks the information that we could possibly get from terrorists captured would reveal to us some aspects of the enemy. Fair enough. Its value presents itself. The problem, of course, as I’ve noted in many previous posts, is that torture tends to corrupt the nation that employs that tool, in such a way that the supposed benefits from its use, end up being overwhelmed by the negatives that come with its use.

So are we really getting what we want out of torturing these individuals? In my opinion, no. But then again, I believe the real reason Bush is pushing so hard on this detainee bill is not necessarily for the information from the detainees, as much as to immunize himself and his employees from inevitable prosecution of war crimes. Bush has already ordered his employees at the CIA to violate the law, and he knows it. It was premeditated. It isn’t as if the White House is not familiar with the Geneva Conventions—which are the Law of the Land—or the War Crimes Act of 1996. They know the law, and they willfully broke it. Now they want immunity. Anyways, that is a side issue, but one that needs to continually be addressed. They must not get away with breaking the law.

So now, what do we do. We have an enemy that works in secret. They tend not to reveal themselves until they strike, when it is usually too late. How can we best find out the movement of the enemy? Well, one method is to capture someone who supposedly has all, or some of, the relevant information and beat it out of him. It is a crude way. And much as we think we’ve got a refined method these days, as I’ve shown earlier, in previous posts, these methods are not new, and previously were used by regimes we normally would not want to emulate. Furthermore, as has been shown by numerous studies and reports, the information gathered from someone who is tortured is not really reliable, because, simply, one tells their captor what the captor wants to hear, in order to stop the pain.

If you were captured by the enemy and tortured, would you give them an honest answer? Would you not feel like you sold out on your country and your cause if you did spill the beans? If we don’t think we will give an honest answer, and we’re generally speaking, upright, and honest people, why do we think terrorists, who use the lowest form of violence to further their cause, who lie easily, would somehow tell the truth upon the application of pain on their bodies?

So just what do we get from torture? I don’t think we get what we claim we do. In fact, I think it worsens our situation.

Now, is there a better way? Yes!

Ask the Lord.

In the Book of Mormon, the Nephites and the Lamanites were about to begin a war. The war was led by renegade Nephites who were angry that they were not voted as leaders of the Nephites. They go over to the Lamanites and convince them to go to war. In Alma 43, the war begins. The Lamanites come upon the Nephites in one part of the Nephite land only to find a very well defended Nephite city. The Lamanites slink back into the wilderness and go around to find another path. Captain Moroni then has a choice to make. How does he find out where the Lamanites were going? He sends out spies to keep track of the Lamanites, but then he does something else…..

23 But it came to pass, as soon as they had departed into the wilderness Moroni sent spies into the wilderness to watch their camp; and Moroni, also, knowing of the prophecies of Alma, sent certain men unto him, desiring him that he should inquire of the Lord whither the armies of the Nephites should go to defend themselves against the Lamanites.
24 And it came to pass that the word of the Lord came unto Alma, and Alma informed the messengers of Moroni, that the armies of the Lamanites were marching round about in the wilderness, that they might come over into the land of Manti, that they might commence an attack upon the weaker part of the people. And those messengers went and delivered the message unto Moroni.

Captain Moroni could have captured one of the Lamanites by his spies that he sent out to follow the Lamanites. He could have taken that Lamanite and subjected him to “alternative set of procedures” to extract information from that Lamanite just where they were heading next. Instead, what does Captain Moroni do? He goes to the Prophet of the Lord and asks him to inquire of the Lord wither the enemy goeth.

What a brilliant idea!

Why didn’t anyone see this before? All in the Old Testament, we have numerous examples where the King of Israel or the King of the Judah, irrespective of how righteous or sinful they were, would go to a prophet of the Lord for counsel against an enemy. They understood that the Lord was all-knowing and asking for counsel of the Lord would ensure them victory, if victory was theirs to have. Of course, a king like King Ahab was told to go to war against Ramoth-Gilead, but when he asked the prophet of the Lord, the answer wasn’t what King Ahab was expecting.

15 So he came to the king. And the king said unto him, Micaiah, shall we go against Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we forbear? And he answered him, Go, and prosper: for the LORD shall deliver it into the hand of the king.
16 And the king said unto him, How many times shall I adjure thee that thou tell me nothing but that which is true in the name of the LORD?
17 And he said, I saw all Israel scattered upon the hills, as sheep that have not a shepherd: and the LORD said, These have no master: let them return every man to his house in peace.
18 And the king of Israel said unto Jehoshaphat, Did I not tell thee that he would prophesy no good concerning me, but evil?

Why do we not ask the Lord today to reveal the plot and movement of the enemy? If we are truly a nation that follows God, why do we not ask him for guidance and assistance against our enemy? And I’m talking about exactly what Moroni was seeking regarding the Lamanites. Let us ask the Lord for the information we seek from torture, so that rather than taint our society with this evil, we still find our information, and most definitely will be of greater credibility than any word that comes out of the mouth of a terrorist!

Trust in the Lord!

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
8 It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.

Let us “prove [him] now herewith if [he] will not open [us] the windows of heaven”

Do we have this kind of faith?

If we don’t then perhaps we deserve the consequences of torture, as we abandon the God who gives us life and protection. I want to hear from the Christian right on this issue. What say you? Will you trust God to give you the information our country needs for protection?


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  1. Do you oppose the election, appointment, enlistment, or hiring of all non-religious people to government posts pertaining to national security? This seems to unavoidably follow from your argument.

  2. No, I don’t oppose non-religious people being elected or appointed to national security positions. They should be appointed based on their qualifications and not religious beliefs, political leanings, etc.

    As I showed with King Ahab of the Kingdom of Israel, even the most wicked can still ask a prophet for guidance. One doesn’t have to believe in God, but can be a good utilitarian and use a method that provides him the information he seeks without the corruption of his society. Moreover, I would think that even for the most hardened atheist, he would still be more trusting of information from a Diety than from a terrorist.

  3. I think they got solid info by torturing those people, didn’t they?

    I also think at first most of us were experiencing a visceral blood lust. I was. I think that’s natural. Not good, but normal.

    Do you suppose GWB has asked the Lord? He says he does.

  4. I think that if GWB asked the Lord, he wouldn’t need to torture individuals. At least, if his real intent is gathering information, as he says publicly.

  5. As a religious matter, your reasoning doesn’t hold up for me. You make the assumption that if we ask God for a good thing (such as information about the movement of the terrorists) he will tell us through the prophet. You’re assuming that a good God would surely provide the info if asked. But hasn’t God let a lot of bad stuff happen, even to righteous people? It isn’t a matter of faith, as you assert. Silence from God is frequently a fundamental part of our mortal experience.

    You aren’t advocating asking God in addition to aggressive questions. You are advocating asking God instead of doing our own leg work.

  6. Hardly, Brad, I’ve never said we shouldn’t make efforts to defend ourselves. In the case of Moroni, he prepared his nation to full defense, but inquired of the Lord for information he could not get.

    As we know from torture, the information provided is generally unreliable. There really is no way we humans can get the relevant information for every terror attack. We will be hit again.

    You’re thinking that leg work equates using terror…sorry freudian slip…torture. But if we’re extracting this information from a terrorist, what do we need God for? Moreover, after witnessing a detainee suffer greatly, in much pain, can you really go to the Lord in prayer and not feel dirty?

    Yes, I am asking we employ the Lord instead of a terrorist for information. Who do you trust more for accurate information?

    Finally, you seem to make the assumption that God will sometimes not be there. Can you provide me any example in scripture that the Lord was NOT there for his people when they were righteous and asking him for help?

  7. It’s an interesting concept you raise. My initial reaction is I’m not certain the use of revelation through a prophet to spy on our enemies about their plans for our destruction is the proper use of revelation.

    My sense is that the Lord has already given America the best advice he can in terms of how to protect itself. Keep the commandments and prosper in the land. This advice is given to us over and over again in the Book of Mormon–if my recollection is correct, over 25 times. If we will but worship the God of this land, Jesus Christ, we will be just fine. See Nephi 4. Once we forget about Jesus Christ and living his commandments, watch out. We’ll be right behind the Jaredites and Nephite civilizations which were swept off the land. This is why I think it is so immoral and dangerous for America to be heading where it is.

  8. Revelation was used in the past for warfare purposes. Read any part of 1 Samuel to 2 Kings in the Old Testament. It is replete with the kings of Israel and Judah going to the prophet of the Lord for guidance on dealing with foreign enemies. Most of them, like King Ahab of Israel, were wicked, yet they still went to the prophet of the Lord for guidance.

    Then we have Alma 43. Here Moroni specifically asks for information as to the location and movement of the Lamanites.

    Are there any examples of righteous people not getting information they need from the Lord when they ask?

  9. […] The one that best justifies the use of torture is number 3; they have information we need. All the rest are basically regarding punishment, which we have laws against—or used to before Republicans fell asleep at the Congressional wheel. All talk about protecting freedom, and “gotta stop them before they kill your grandma” is hyperbole and meant to scare you. That can be easily discounted. We’re in a situation now where we need to know the movement of an enemy that is openly attacking us, meaning they wait for the right moment to strike, when we don’t usually expect it, and hit us pretty successfully. We need actionable intelligence, and our own operatives cannot infiltrate this enemy—who knows why, though this should be a good question asked of the CIA. How do we best get information about the enemy’s movements, strategies and thoughts? I’ve argued before that the best option is to inquire of the Lord rather than attempt to beat it out of the enemy. After all, who are you going to trust more anyways, a hardened terrorist, or the Lord of all the Earth? […]

  10. This is interesting.

    Are you advocating that Bush get on his knees and ask God and expect that God will tell him what is going on with the terrorists and then go to the CIA and say, “OK, guys, God says to go to this particular house and you will find …” and the CIA will say, “OK, golly gee, God told the President, so it must be so”?

    Or should he approach President Hinckley, or Billy Graham, or the Pope, or Jessie Jackson, or Al Sharpton, or …?

    I don’t mean to mock. I admire the concept. Idealism is powerful, but only where it meets the practical. If we were all on the same page, it might be great. But we are not all Israelites, or Nephites, or Mormons, or Baptists, or Catholics, who adhere to, or at least recognize the position of, a single person in the office of prophet of God.

    Anyhow, if Bush revealed to you that God is, in fact, directing his efforts, would you believe him, or would you mock him? Would God reveal anything to Bush? Would God reveal anything to a Republican?

    This, of course, is rhetorical, as you have already answered this question. Because you feel that Bush’s hands are filthy with the sludge of tortured prisoners, it would be difficult to believe that he could receive revelation from God. So perhaps you would advocate that he approach God through one of God’s servants? Again, which servant? Or would it matter? Suppose he approached Billy Graham, and Billy Graham provided him with accurate information regarding the movements of the enemy. Would this affect your testimony of the gospel? Or is it a mute question since Billy Graham, while a Godly man, is not a prophet, and the only real person from whom Bush could get answers is Hinckley. Would the rest of the country support Bush, or would they call for his head on a Bible? Is this really the purpose of having a prophet in our day?

  11. Practicalist,

    Those are good questions to ask. I guess for me, I’m struck, like Joseph Smith was, at the simplicity of the James 1:5 verse:

    5 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

    If we’re dealing with an enemy that thinks outside the box, perhaps we should also. Getting down and dirty with them only harms us more than the value of the information we glean from them. However, asking God, who does happen to know all, does not cost us anything. Can we think outside the box? Why can’t it work?

    As far as who to ask, well, perhaps this is why people don’t venture into this risk, because if Bush, a Methodist, asks his Methodist leaders and they don’t get for him an answer that is truthful, well, it would shake his belief. Frankly, from my understanding of the world around me, the Lord answers our prayers through many people, and not just the prophet.

    However, he himself can get on his knees and pray. Regardless of how sinful he is, God does answer his prayers, even to his benefit.

    Unfortunately, my suggestion here is very idealistic. Too few trust in the Lord anymore for their protection and for their information. We still think the best way is to dehumanize a human being, tear down who he is and rape his mind. If you think about it, that’s what torture really is, a rape of the mind, trying to force out what someone doesn’t want to give. How that can be done by righteous people, I just don’t see possible.

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