Minute of Concern Regarding Diminishing U.S. Respect for Civil Rights (11/2003)

From the minutes of the meeting for worship with a concern for business, 11/2/2003:

"Patapsco Friends Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) expresses its concern about the diminishing respect the United States government has shown for human rights both at home and abroad since September 11, 2001.  We affirm the fundamental equality of all people everywhere. Though imperfectly, Quakers have advanced this principle for 350 years and the founders of our country did as well. Such equality implies that all people have the same basic rights to privacy, due process, and equal protection under the law.  Such rights are the very basis of the freedom we hold dear and that our government leaders say they are trying to defend.  Yet in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 2001, our government has curtailed certain Constitutional protections for immigrants and some religious, cultural, and civic groups under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act.  Moreover, according to numerous press reports (cf., for example, The Washington Post, 12/26/2002), our government has used torture in interrogating detainees overseas (and for many years has trained other governments' personnel in torture practices).  In addition to violating the very freedoms we profess to defend, such abuses of human rights subvert the rule of law, undermine the moral authority our leaders have claimed to justify U.S. actions, exacerbate the threats to our security, and, in the final analysis, diminish the prospects for peace."

Our minute was developed in response to a minute written by Hopewell Meeting on the torture of prisoners.

The clerk will distribute copies of the minute to the White House, Congress, the U.S. State Department, the U. S. Defense Department, the press, Quarterly Meeting, Hopewell Meeting, Friends Committee on National Legislation and Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

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