One time Democrat U.S. Congressman from Pennsylvania and current General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, Rev. Bob Edgar, decries the United States government for preventing him from obeying the Lord’s commandment to visit Taliban and al Qaeda detainees at Guantánamo Bay. Edgar says,
“I was in prison and you visited me,” Jesus says in Matthew 25:36. But the detainees at Guantánamo are not permitted visitors. I know this from personal experience.
The National Council of Churches requested to visit these children of God simply to see how they were being treated. The request was denied permission by our government. We did not wish to make a statement; we did not want to intervene on their behalf. We simply wanted to visit these prisoners as our Lord commands in Matthew 25:40.
'When did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?' And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'
Edgar appeals to Scripture again, when he says,
My heart cries out at these words of our Commander in Chief. How can the United States condemn other countries for torture when it pretends not to know the meaning of human suffering and degradation? Jesus teaches in Matthew 7:5:
You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
It is hardly necessary to offer any critique of Bob Edgar's misuse of Scripture. Is it? Is not Bob Edgar's abuse of the Scripture passage plainly evident to all who have eyes to see? Edgar has more than specks in his eyes for him to abuse Scripture these ways. Is it not obvious that Jesus' Parable of the Sheep and the Goats represents "the least of these my brethren" as his followers and not humans in general and especially not Muslim terrorists? How, in the name of all things reasonable, can an ordained United Methodist minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ turn Jesus' words to render Muslim's among the Taliban and among al Qaeda to be regarded as among the sheep, Jesus' followers, called "the least of these my brethren", and not among the goats? The operative words are all things reasonable.
For further commentary on this look here and here.
We should always be concerned that humans, including terrorists, be treated as human beings, creatures made in the image and likeness of God. This, however, does not preclude interrogation, prosecution, and punishment, even death (cf. Genesis 9:1-6). There is a proper use of Scripture that Christians are obliged to embrace. Regrettably, Bob Edgar's approach abuses both Jesus and Scripture.
Update (11/13/06): Mark Tooley has written an insightful piece called "The 'God is on Our Side' Lie" as a post-election follow-up on false allegations made by Left-leaning church leaders, National Council of Churches Director Bob Edgar and Bishop Felton May.