WASHINGTON–The United Methodist Church’s social policy office is circulating a petition that tells President Bush, a fellow church member, that torture is immoral and ineffective.

The petition cites the Methodists’ Book of Discipline, which says, “The mistreatment or torture of persons by governments for any purpose violates Christian teaching and must be condemned and/or opposed by Christians and churches wherever and whenever it occurs.”

The Methodists’ General Board of Church and Society was one of 10 groups that sent a letter to Bush urging him to sign the Intelligence Authorization bill, which would effectively ban the CIA from using waterboarding or other interrogation techniques that many consider torture.

President Bush has threatened to veto the bill, but more than 1,600 signers of the petition are urging him to sign it. Bush has frequently butted heads with Methodist leaders, especially over their opposition to the war in Iraq.

Meanwhile, leaders of four other groups have asked to meet with Bush as he decides whether to veto the bill. A joint letter brought together the National Council of Churches, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union for Reform Judaism and the president of evangelical Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, Calif.

“Our Scriptures couldn’t be clearer in their condemnation of cruelty and abuse,” said the Rev. Michael Kinnamon, head of the NCC. “The letter we have sent sums it up very succinctly: Torture is an intrinsic evil.”

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