Final Program Set, Poll Results To Be Released, at National Summit on Torture

September 8, 2008

Media Contacts:
Larry Brumley
(478) 301-5700

Mark Vanderhoek
(478) 301-4037

ATLANTA — An impressive lineup of speakers including prominent scholars, leaders from the faith community, former military officers and a victim of torture are on the program for a sold-out National Summit on Torture at Mercer University’s Atlanta campus later this week. Titled “Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul” and scheduled for Thursday and Friday, the conference is being organized by Dr. David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer.

Gushee, who also serves as president of Evangelicals for Human Rights, a conference co-sponsor, said the program is designed to “go to the source of the problem, to diagnose how we got here, and to chart a way forward to a better American future.”

On Thursday at 10:45 a.m., results from a new poll commissioned by Mercer University and Faith in Public Life and conducted by Public Religion Research will be released. Among the findings are evidence that white evangelical Christians in the South are significantly more likely to oppose torture if they rely on Christian teachings or beliefs to form their views and that a majority agree with the Golden Rule argument against torture — that the U.S. government should not use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers.

Among the more than 50 speakers, presenters and moderators scheduled to participate in the conference are academics from institutions such as Yale University, the University of Notre Dame, New York University, Seton Hall Law School, Morehouse College, Georgetown University, Vanderbilt University, Princeton Theological Seminary and Mercer. Presenters will also include retired senior military officers, leaders from Christian, Jewish and Islamic organizations, and a Catholic nun who was tortured while serving as a missionary in Guatemala.

Among the other co-sponsors of the conference are the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, the Center for Victims of Torture, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Evangelicals for Social Action, Faith and the City, the Islamic Society of North America, Morehouse College, the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, No2Torture, Rabbis for Human Rights, Sojourners and Third Way.

For more information about the conference, call (678) 547-6457 or visit www.evangelicalsforhumanrights.org. For media-related questions, call (478) 301-5700.

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Religious Faith, Torture, and Our National Soul

September 11-12, 2008

Mercer University

Atlanta Administration and Conference Center

 

 

Thursday, September 11

Torture and U.S. Foreign Policy: Looking Back

 

7:30 a.m.        Registration Opens. Continental Breakfast

 

8:30 a.m.        Greetings and Opening Interfaith Prayers 

Speakers:

·        David P. Gushee, Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics, Mercer University, and President of Evangelicals for Human Rights

·        William D. Underwood, President, Mercer University

·        Rich Killmer, Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture

·        Denise Massey, Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

Prayers:

·        Rabbi Brian Walt, Executive Director, Rabbis for Human Rights - North America

·        Dr. Alan Culpepper, Dean, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

·        Mahan Mirza, Assistant Professor, California State University, Chico

 

9:10 a.m.        How We Got Here: How Torture Entered US Interrogation Policy after 9/11

                           Speaker: Karen Greenberg, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security, New York University School of Law

Introduction: Rich Killmer

Respondents: Linda Gustitus, President, National Religious Campaign Against Torture, and Ron Mahurin, Vice President for Academic Affairs, Houghton College

 

10:30 a.m.      Break

 

10:45 a.m.      Southern Evangelical Attitudes Toward Torture: A New Poll

Speakers: Dr. Robert Jones, President, Public Religion Research, LLC, and Katie Paris, Director of Communications Strategy, Faith in Public Life

Commentary on results of poll: Tyler Wigg Stevenson, Director of Two Futures Project, and David P. Gushee

Closing Prayer: Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Associate Director of Education and Outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights

 

11:30 p.m.      Lunch

 

12:30 p.m.      How the U.S. Military Responded to the Drift Toward Torture

Speaker: Don Guter, Dean, Duquesne University School of Law and former Navy Judge Advocate General

Introduction: Pete Dross, Director of Development and Policy, Center for Victims of Torture

Respondent: Steve Xenakis, retired U.S. Army Brigadier General and Advisor to Physicians for Human Rights

 

1:45 p.m.        Break 

 

2:00 p.m.        What Torture Does to Human Beings 

Speaker: Douglas Johnson, Executive Director, Center for Victims of Torture

Introduction: Linda Gustitus

Respondent: Denise Massey

Reflections from a Survivor

Speaker: Sister Dianna Ortiz, founder, Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC)

Closing Moment of Silence and Prayer: Loyd Allen, Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

 

3:45 p.m.        Extended Break           

 

4:15 p.m.        What the Torture Debate Reveals about American Christianity 

Speaker: David P. Gushee

Introductions/Moderator: Ron Sider, Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry and Public Policy, and Director, Sider Center on Ministry and Public Policy, Eastern Seminary

Panel:

·        Lawrence Carter, Dean, Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Professor of Religion and College Curator, Morehouse College

·        Rabbi Brian Walt

·        Cathleen Kaveny, John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology, University of Notre Dame

·        Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America

                           Closing Prayer by Tom Slater, Professor of New Testament Language and Literature, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

 

6:00 p.m.        Dinner

 

7:00 p.m.        Guantanamo: An Assessment and Reflection from Those Who Have Been There

Panel Speakers:

·        Thomas Wilner, managing partner, International Trade and Government Relations Practice, Shearman & Sterling LLP

·        Mark Denbeaux, Professor of Law and Director, Center for Policy and Research, Seton Hall Law School

·        John Chandler, partner, Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP

·        Gita Gutierrez, attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR)

Introductions/Moderator: Timothy Floyd, Professor of Law and Director, Law and Public Service Program, Walter F. George School of Law, Mercer University

Evening Prayer by Farooq Mughal, political contributor, Atlanta Korean Radio

 

9:00 p.m.        Dessert/coffee informal roundtable discussions with conference speakers

 

 

Friday, September 12

Recovering Our Moral Bearings: Where Do We Go From Here?

 

8:00 a.m.        Continental Breakfast

 

8:30 a.m.        Opening Session with David P. Gushee and Cheryl Bridges-Johns, Professor of Christian Formation and Discipleship, Church of God Theological Seminary

Interfaith Prayers:

·        Mohamed Elsanousi, Director of Communications and Community Outreach, Islamic Society of North America

·        Rabbi Charles Feinberg, Associate Rabbi, Adas Israel, Washington, D.C.

·        David Garber, Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

 

9:05 a.m.        The Religious Roots of Human Rights 

Speaker: Glen Harold Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

Introduction: Katie Paris

Respondents: Graham Walker, Professor of Theology and Associate Dean, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University, and Matt Norman, Missiologist and Personnel Selection Manager, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions

 

10:30 a.m.      Break

 

10:45 a.m.      Healing the (American) Christian Relationship with the Muslim World

Panel Speakers:

·        Rick Love, Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale University Divinity School

·        Fareeha Khan, Assistant Professor of Islam, Georgia State University

·        Yahya Hendi, Muslim Chaplain, Georgetown University; Secretary General of Clergy Beyond Borders; and President, Imams for Universe, Dignity, Human Rights and Dialogue

·        Mahan Mirza

Introductions/Moderator: Andy Saperstein, Associate Director, Reconciliation Program, Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale University Divinity School

Closing Prayer by Rachel Laser, Culture Program Director, Third Way

 

12:45 p.m.      Lunch

 

1:45 p.m.        Current Legislative and Policy Efforts Related to Torture 

Panel Speakers:

·        Stephen Rickard, Deputy Director, Open Society Policy Center

·        Devon Chaffee, Advocacy Counsel, Human Rights Watch

·        Linda Gustitus

Introductions/Moderator: Jeanne Herrick-Stare, Founder and Editor, Torture'sNotUs.net

 

3:15 p.m.        Break

 

3:30 p.m.        Breaking Free From Cultural Captivity: Christian Reflections in Light of Barmen and Abu Ghraib  

Speaker: George Hunsinger, Founder, National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology, Princeton Seminary

                           Introduction: Rich Killmer

                           Respondents: Elizabeth Bounds, Associate Professor of Christian Ethics, Candler School of Theology, Emory University, and Larry McSwain, Professor of Ethics and Leadership, James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology, Mercer University

 

5:00 p.m.        Emerging Scholars Panel: Insights from the Next Generation 

Introductions/Moderator: Tyler Wigg-Stevenson

Panel Speakers:

·        Kathryn Reklis, Ph.D. candidate, Yale University, and Special Assistant to the President, Union Theological Seminary (NY)

·        Michael Peppard, Ph.D candidate in Religious Studies, Yale University

·        Asante Todd, Ph.D. candidate in the Ethics and Society Program, Vanderbilt University

·        Natalie Wigg-Stevenson, Ph.D. candidate in theology, Vanderbilt University

Prayer by Fareeha Khan

 

6:30 p.m.        Dinner

 

7:30 p.m.        National Security, Torture, and a Practical Way Forward

Speaker: Rachel Laser

Introduction: William D. Underwood                                  

Closing Prayer by Craig McMahan, University Minister and Dean of the Chapel,  Mercer University

 

PROGRAM PERSONALITIES

 

Loyd Allen is Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation at the McAfee School of Theology where he holds the Sylvan Hills Chair of Baptist Heritage. He has also served as the Executive Director of the W. H. Whitsitt Baptist Heritage Society for over ten years.

 

Elizabeth Bounds is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

 

Lawrence Carter, Sr. is the first Dean of the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel and tenured Professor of Religion, and College Curator at Morehouse College.

 

Devon Chaffee is Advocacy Counsel for Human Rights Watch.

 

John Chandler is a partner at Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP and is representing five Yemeni men detained at Guantanamo Bay.

 

Alan Culpepper is Dean of the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University.

 

Mark P. Denbeaux is Professor of Law at Seton Hall Law School, as well as the Director of the Seton Hall Law School Center for Policy and Research, which is best known for its production of the internationally recognized series of reports on the Guantanamo Bay Detention Camp.  Denbeaux’s interest in the conditions of detainment arose from his representation of two detainees there.

 

Pete Dross is Director of Development and Policy for the Center for Victims of Torture.

 

Mohamed Elsanousi is Director of Communications and Community Outreach of the Islamic Society of North America.

 

Charles Feinberg is Associate Rabbi for Adas Israel in Washington, DC.

 

Timothy Floyd is Professor of Law and Director of the Law and Public Service Program at Mercer University's Walter F. George School of Law.

 

David Garber, Jr. is the Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Hebrew at McAfee School of Theology.

 

Karen J. Greenberg is the Executive Director of the Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law.

 

David P. Gushee is Distinguished University Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University, and he is President of Evangelicals for Human Rights.

 

Linda Gustitus is President of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

 

Don Guter is dean of the Duquesne University School of Law and the former Navy judge advocate general.

 

Gita Gutierrez is a U.S. lawyer working for the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and represents Saudi Guantanamo detainee Mohammed Al-Qatani.

 

Yahya Hendi is Muslim Chaplain of Georgetown University, Secretary General of Clergy Beyond Borders, and President of Imams for Universe, Dignity, Human Rights and Dialogue. 

 

Jeanne Herrick-Stare is founder and editor of Torture's Not Us .net.

 

George Hunsinger is founder of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture and Hazel Thompson McCord Professor of Systematic Theology at Princeton Seminary. 

 

Cheryl Bridges-Johns is Professor of Christian Formation and Discipleship, Church of God Theological Seminary.

 

Doug Johnson is Executive Director of the Center for Victims of Torture.

 

Rachel Kahn-Troster is Associate Director of Education and Outreach for Rabbis for Human Rights and a senior rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

 

Fareeha Khan is assistant professor of Islam at Georgia State University and was recently a participant at the Yale Common Word conference. Her research focuses on Islamic legal reform and gender.

 

Cathleen Kaveny is the John P. Murphy Foundation Professor of Law and Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

 

Richard Killmer is Executive Director of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture.

 

Rachel Laser is the Culture Program Director of Third Way in Washington, D.C.

 

Rick Love is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale University Divinity School.

 

Ron Mahurin is Vice President for Academic Affairs at Houghton College in New York.

 

Denise Massey is the Associate Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling at Mercer University. 

 

Craig McMahan is the University Minister and Dean of the Chapel at Mercer University. He is also an assistant professor in the Columbus Roberts Department of Christianity.

 

Larry McSwain is Professor of Ethics and Leadership at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, where he holds the Watkins Christian Foundation Endowed Chair in Ministry.

 

Mahan Mirza is Assistant Professor at California State University, Chico and is currently completing his Ph.D. in Islamic Studies from Yale University in Religious Studies.

 

Farooq Mughal serves as political contributor for Atlanta Korean Radio.

 

Matt Norman is Missiologist & Personnel Selection Manager at Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Global Missions.  

 

Sister Dianna Ortiz is a Catholic nun who was tortured while serving as a missionary in Guatemala in 1989 and now tells her story so that the world might know what torture does to human beings. She is the founder of Torture Abolition and Survivors Support Coalition International (TASSC), an organization founded by and for torture survivors.

 

Katie Paris is the Director of Communications Strategy at Faith in Public Life.

 

Michael Peppard is a Ph.D candidate in Religious Studies at Yale University. His areas of specialization include the New Testament, Judaism and Christianity in antiquity, Greco-ROman religions, and contemporary Jewish-Christian relations.

 

Kathryn Reklis is a Ph.D. candidate at Yale University, concentrating in Christian Theology. She is currently a Project Assistant to the Women, Religion, and Globalization project at Yale University.

 

Stephen Rickard is a member of the Board of Directors of the Open Society Policy Center. He is also the Deputy Director of the Open Society Policy Center.

 

Andy Saperstein serves as Associate Director of the Reconciliation Program at the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, Yale University Divinity School.

 

Ronald J. Sider is Professor of Theology, Holistic Ministry & Public Policy and the Director of the Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy at Eastern Seminary. Dr. Sider is also President and Founder of Evangelicals for Social Action.

 

Tom Slater is Professor of New Testament Language and Literature at McAfee School of Theology.

 

Glen H. Stassen is Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary. 

 

Asante Todd is a Ph.D. candidate in the Ethics and Society doctoral program at Vanderbilt University. He also has a fellowship in the Program in Theology and Practice, which is awarded to students displaying strong interest in conversations between the academy, church, and society.

 

William D. Underwood is President of Mercer University.

 

Graham Walker is Professor of Theology and the Associate Dean for the Master of Divinity Degree Program at McAfee School of Theology.

 

Brian Walt is Executive Director for Rabbis for Human Rights - North America.

 

Natalie Wigg-Stevenson is a Ph.D. candidate in theology at Vanderbilt University. She is also a fellow in the Program in Theology and Practice.

 

Tyler Wigg Stevenson is Director of Two Futures Project.

 

Thomas Wilner is the managing partner of the International Trade and Government Relations Practice at Shearman & Sterling LLP.

 

Steve Xenakis is a retired U.S. Army Brig. General and a psychiatrist who serves as an advisor to Physicians for Human Rights, as well as having a psychiatric practice.

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