Church of the Brethren Joins Complaint on CIA Treatment of Detainees

Church of the Brethren Newsline
Aug. 13, 2010

The Church of the Brethren has joined as a complainant in support of a complaint to the Office of Human Research Protections regarding evidence of CIA violations of prisoners. The complaint is being led by the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT).

The complaint has been sparked by a report released by Physicians for Human Rights that CIA doctors and other health professionals may have engaged in illegal and unethical medical experiments involving torture and detainees in US custody.

In his statement of support for the complaint, which was filed prior to the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in early July, general secretary Stan Noffsinger cited the Oct. 2009 “Resolution Against Torture” adopted by the Mission and Ministry Board of the church. In the resolution, the board said that its members “find both the occurrences of torture and the attempt to legitimize the acts of torture unconscionable,” and stated, “we will be silent no more.” The resolution since has been adopted by the full delegate body of the denomination.

As of late July, the Church of the Brethren was one of 20 national religious groups and 7 state and local religious groups had joined NRCAT and other human rights organizations and more than 3,000 individuals in filing the formal complaint with the Office of Human Research Protections.

The Office of Human Research Protections is part of the Department of Health and Human Services. The complaint asks the office to investigate the alleged illegal medical experiments as the federal agency tasked with investigating allegations of unethical medical experimentation involving human subjects.

However, NRCAT director Richard L. Killmer has reported that DHHS responded to the complaint in a letter to Physicians for Human Rights. “We are disappointed in the agency’s decision not to assert jurisdiction in this complaint and simply to forward the complaint to the CIA ‘for review,’” Killmer wrote in late July in an e-mail report to organizations taking part in the complaint. “Since the CIA has already publicly denied the allegations, this decision will effectively bury the complaint, even if that is not the explicit intent,” he said.

Since the DHHS response, NRCAT and the complainants have called on President Obama to ensure an independent, thorough, and open investigation, and are calling on the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to do the same. NRCAT has announced plans to continue the effort by requesting a meeting with White House staff to present the list of complainants, discuss the DHHS response and ask how the Administration will ensure that the allegations are appropriately investigated.

“The evidence is absolutely shocking and repulsive,” said Michael Kinnamon, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches, in a release from the New Evangelical Partnership for the Common Good, which also signed on to the complaint along with the NCC and a number of Christian denominations. “Torture is an affront to God and the denial of the bedrock convictions of all people of faith.”

In related news, the Church of the Brethren through its Global Mission Partnerships program recently gave a $2,000 grant to the work of NRCAT. For more information about the complaint go to

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Brethren in the News

“Lutherans apologize for persecution,” York (Pa.) Daily Record, Aug. 1, 2010
It was an emotional moment last month when a worldwide organization representing 70 million Lutherans issued an official apology for the cruel, 16th-century persecution of Anabaptists, asking forgiveness for their part in labeling the reformers as heretics and the violence they faced as a result….
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“McPherson Brethren pastor completes leadership role,” McPherson (Kan.) Sentinel, Aug. 10, 2010
Shawn Flory Replogle spent the past year as a traveling encourager. The McPherson Church of the Brethren pastor visited 21 of the denomination’s 23 districts and even the Dominican Republic as moderator, the highest elected position the Church of the Brethren offers…..
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Obituary: Marie Davis Robinson, Staunton (Va.) News Leader, Aug. 12, 2010
Marie Davis Robinson, 67, of Waynesboro died Thursday, Aug. 12, 2010, at her residence. She attended Blue Ridge Chapel Church of the Brethren. For 28 years, she worked as a psychiatric aide at Western State Hospital. Her husband, Roy Robinson Sr., survives her….

Obituary: Richard E. Sheffer, Staunton (Va.) News Leader, Aug. 11, 2010
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Obituary: Velma Lucile Ritchie, Star Press, Muncie, Ind., Aug. 9, 2010
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“Pastor out at church in wake of child porn charges,” Journal Courier, Jacksonville, Ill., Aug. 6, 2010
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“Lincoln police arrest 3 church burglary suspects,” Journal Star, Lincoln, Neb., Aug. 5, 2010
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