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Torturing Baptism

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As a career military chaplain, Sarah Palin's recent comment, "Well, if I was in charge, they would know, water boarding is how we baptize terrorists," and then the crowd's applause, stuck in my craw. War is a terrible business. At very best, it is the second-worst choice. Every soldier needs to consider the humanity of those we seek to defeat or we will lose our own. There is nothing more demonic than to torture someone you've overpowered.

The Third Reich committed the farthest-reaching evil of the 20th Century. My dad was at the front when The Battle of the Bulge broke out. His tank destroyer was hit with a bazooka round. Even though the German Army pressed forward for days they took the time to pick him up, throw him in a boxcar and remove him to a prison camp. In the very few times my dad mentioned his POW experience, he always mentioned the skill of the German surgeon who restored his eyesight and hearing. He also said when Red Cross packages came they ate better than their guards. Even in the horror of war, against an evil enemy, humanity shined. Honorable soldiers fight men like Hitler. We don't become like him.

As a minister for The Prince of Peace I can't begin to tell you how wrong it is to use the word "baptize" as an introduction to torture. When I was baptized in 1973 it symbolized my understanding of my own weakness and a desire to rise to a new way of thinking. My ultimate goal: If someone were driving stakes into my hands and feet I'd say, "Father, forgive them. They haven't a clue about the purpose of life."

I'm not surprised people who think of themselves as "good" find relief in the thought of torturing their enemies. God knows, Jesus wasn't surprised when the "good people" nailed Him.

With a Perspective, this is Steve Torgerson.


Steve Torgerson is a retired Air Force chaplain. He served in Iraq and was wing chaplain at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield.

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