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Torture is not an option, says the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), which endorsed a statement against the practice of torture this week.

The newly-formed Evangelicals for Human Rights, comprised of 17 activists and scholars, spent more than six months drafting the 18-page document, "An Evangelical Declaration Against Torture: Protecting Human Rights in an Age of Terror." The document is intended to be both a moral and theological statement.

"From a Christian perspective, every human life is sacred. As evangelical Christians, recognition of this transcendent moral dignity is non-negotiable in every area of life, including our assessment of public policies," the statement begins.

The NAE endorsed the document at their annual March 11 meeting, with one dissenting vote.

"Everyone bears an obligation to act in ways that recognize human rights," the statement says. "Churches must teach their members to think biblically about morally difficult and emotionally intense public issues such as this one. Our own government must honor its constitutional and moral responsibilities to respect and protect human rights."

Drafters said the statement was motivated by recent accounts of torture, such as the numerous 2004 accounts of abuse and torture of prisoners held in the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

"There are some who have misconstrued this as criticism of the United States, but that is clearly not the intent or the character of the document," NAE interim president Leith Anderson told CT. "The most frequent question I have been asked is, 'Why did we not do this sooner?'"

NAE vice president for governmental affairs Richard Cizik said he has seen an overseas perception that even evangelical Christian Americans are willing to engage terror ...

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