Group of Utah Religious Leaders Endorses Anti-torture Bill

Group of Utah Religious Leaders Endorses Anti-torture Bill

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- A group of Utah religious leaders has endorsed a U.S. Senate-passed measure that would ban U.S. use of torture.

A statement signed by the 41 religious leaders, representing a number of Christian denominations, the Muslim community and pagan clergy, called on Congress and the president to rule out any use of torture of war prisoners.

The group did not include any representative of the state's predominant denomination, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Mormon church spokesman Dale Bills said Wednesday that the church "condemns inhumane treatment of any person under any circumstances.

"The church has not taken a position on any proposed legislative or administrative actions regarding torture," Bills said.

The statement issued by the 41 Utah religious leaders urged their members to press congressional representatives to pass the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill containing anti-torture provisions.

It cited a similar declaration by the National Council of Churches.

The U.S. Senate has passed a ban on the torture of suspected terrorists in U.S. custody. The Senate's plan would restrict the techniques used to interrogate foreign terrorism suspects and ban "cruel, inhuman or degrading" treatment of anyone in U.S. custody.

The Bush administration has threatened a veto, saying the measure could tie the government's hands in the fight against terrorism. Vice President Dick Cheney has been lobbying Congress to exempt the CIA from any torture ban.

The House has yet to take up the issue.

Utah's faith leaders "are concerned about the way in which Americans are conducting themselves in waging the war on terror," said the Rev. Dan Webster, spokesman for the Episcopal Diocese. "They believe they are well within their rights as spokespeople for the moral conscience of the country."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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