Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of January 21, 2013: Films like Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty should take a better moral stand on torture. America's Founding Fathers knew the art of compromise – even on issues of faith.
Dallas and Cottonwood, Minn.
It was refreshing to read movie critic Peter Rainer's principled opinion on Kathryn Bigelow's movie "Zero Dark Thirty" ("Tasty fan fare: our critic's picks from 2012," Dec. 31, 2012 & Jan. 7, 2013). Mr. Rainer rightly says the film's "torture scenes, and their consequences, are calculatedly deficient in any political context."
Unfortunately, there will always be times when detainees won't be treated as humanely as they should be treated. But Americans should never sanction institutionalized and premeditated cruelty against those who have been restrained and thus pose no immediate threat to their fellow humans. To go the next step and glamorize such behavior without taking a moral stand on it is unconscionable.
The Dec. 24 cover heading "The New Face of Faith" and the photograph of Americans at prayer are connected in my mind with the commentary by Stephen W. Stathis in the same issue, "Let's learn to compromise as the Founders did." How to balance a belief in God with religious freedom was on everyone's mind at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787. Many of those present would speak personally of providence and the hand of God, but they did not put any name for God in America's written Constitution.
At this convention, Benjamin Franklin spoke in June of the "divine protection" that had been present at the time of the Revolution. He then suggested that each day of the convention start with a prayer. Only two or three of the 55 delegates agreed with him. A public prayer was not said.
However, in 1774 at the first session of the Continental Congress, Samuel Adams moved that a prayer be said the next day by the Rev. Jacob Duché, an Episcopal clergyman, and his motion passed. Duché did give a prayer the next day. Thus America's Founders compromised on the prayer question and continued to do so in different ways during that crucial time in US history.