Friday, June 6, 2008

"Banners Across America:" Hundreds of Religious Organizations Take the Moral High Ground

[This is of tremendous importance and an exceedingly welcome development.]

Friends Meeting Jackson, Wyoming
St Thomas Aquinas Palo Alto CA
Nassau Presbyterian Princeton NJ
North Broadway UMC Columbus OH
Grace St Paul Episcopal -- Tuscon AZ

Dear NRCAT Friends:

Appended below is the press release that was just sent to our press contacts detailing the launch of our Banners Across America project in a press telephone conference call that took place earlier today. Check our website ( tomorrow, June 6, to download the MP3 file to listen to the press conference.

NRCAT still has banners available for purchase on our website ( for congregations who want to join the "nearly" 300 congregations displaying anti-torture banners during June.

Thank you again for your efforts to end U.S.-sponsored torture..
Rev. Richard Killmer
Executive Director, NRCAT
June 5, 2008

Contact: Rev. Richard Killmer (202) 547-1920; (207) 450-7242 cell
John Humphries (860) 216-7972 cell;

Nearly 300 Congregations Across the United States - Representing All 50 States and the District of Columbia - Display Anti-Torture Banners in June

National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) introduces and describes "Banners Across America" initiative in June 5 telephone press conference

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) launched its Banners Across America initiative in a telephone press conference describing the nationwide anti-torture banner campaign taking place during the month of June. Hundreds of congregations across the United States have joined this campaign in an effort to mobilize the American faith community in opposition to U.S.-sponsored torture. The "Banners Across America" initiative, organized by NRCAT, is timed to allow local congregations to participate in a nationwide, interfaith public witness during Torture Awareness Month.

To date, 298 congregations, located in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, are participating in this effort by displaying anti-torture banners during the month of June. Most of the large, vinyl banners are black-and-white and have anti-torture messages: "Torture is Wrong" and "Torture is a Moral Issue."

The Rev. Richard Killmer, NRCAT's Executive Director, opened the press conference. "We are thrilled that almost 300 congregations have made a significant and courageous witness in their community by displaying an anti-torture banner on the exterior of their building. In a public way these congregations are stating clearly that torture is always wrong - without any exceptions. These powerful witnesses may hasten the day when we see the end of U.S.-sponsored torture," he said.

Linda Gustitus, NRCAT's President highlighted the following organizational goals:

Stop the use of torture techniques by the CIA.
Close secret prisons
Stop rendition for torture
Hold our government accountable for what we have done. NRCAT has called for a Select Committee of Congress to investigate all aspects of U.S. sponsored torture post 9/11.

"Torture is not a political issue," emphasized Ms. Gustitus. "Whether you're for or against torture shouldn't depend upon whether you're for or against the President, the war or a particular party. Torture is a moral issue. It is immoral to use torture, and it is immoral to condone it -- affirmatively or silently. Torture destroys the very soul of our nation and it must be stopped."

Rev. Chris Grapentine, Pastor of Northside Community Church in Ann Arbor, MI, described the successful efforts in that city to engage a diverse group of congregations in this public witness. The 13 participating groups include churches of several denominations, a Jewish group, and a Buddhist temple.

"The banner will show our neighbors that we stand against the inhumane treatment of all people, even our enemies, because Jesus calls us to love our enemies," said Rev. Grapentine, whose congregation is an American Baptist Church.
Hattiesburg UU Fellowship MS

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster of Rabbis for Human Rights North America noted that 27 Jewish congregations across the country are participating in the banner project, displaying a special banner that features the message "Honor the Image of God: Stop Torture Now."

"The strong response of the Jewish community to the banner project demonstrates that we believe that stopping torture is a Jewish religious imperative," stated Rabbi Kahn-Troster. "As a community who has historically been a victim of torture and oppression, we are compelled by our values to identify with the plight of the stranger and work to ensure k'vod habriot, the dignity of every human being. Torture denies that every person is created b'tzelem elohim, in the image of God. The synagogues hanging the banner are sending a message to our government that Jews regard torture as an affront to their Jewish values."

Participants on today's telephone press conference included:

Rev. Richard Killmer. Executive Director, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Linda Gustitus, President, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
John Humphries, Director for Program Coordination, National Religious Campaign Against Torture
Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications & Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America and NRCAT Board Member
Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Director of Education and Outreach, Rabbis for Human Rights North America
Rev. Chris Grapentine, Pastor, Northside Community Church, Ann Arbor, Michigan

Follow this link to see a list of participating congregations:

Follow this link to see a photo gallery of more than 50 of the anti-torture banners in place:

A recording of today's press conference is available on the NRCAT website.
[For specific details about the location(s) of the banners and local contact information, please contact John Humphries using the phone and e-mail information above.]

For more information about the campaign Click "Banners Across America" at

# # #

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) is a growing membership organization committed to ending U.S.-sponsored torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. Since its formation in January 2006, more than 190 religious groups have joined NRCAT, including representatives from the Roman Catholic, evangelical Christian, mainline Protestant, Unitarian, Quaker, Orthodox Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and Sikh communities. Members include national denominations and faith groups, regional organizations and local congregations

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