The United Church of Christ and the FALN terrorists
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This is of particular interest in this election season since many suspect that the UCC will again try again to secure clemency for the two remaining terrorists, Carlos Alberto Torres and Oscar López Rivera, who refused to renounce violence and to sever ties with FALN as a condition for clemency. While Lord's article focuses on Obama, the question of clemency for the remaining FALN members is also relevant to Hillary Clinton.
Throughout the 1990's, United Church of Christ leaders including President Paul Sherry, Rev. Thomas Dipko, then Executive Vice President of the United Church Board for Homeland Ministries and Rev. Nozomi Ikuta of the United Church Board of Homeland Ministries actively lobbied and consulted with President Clinton, the Department of Justice and Congress on releasing the FALN terrorists from prison. On August 11, 1999 President Clinton offered clemency to the FALN terrorists and on September 7, 1999, 12 of the terrorists accepted the terms of the clemency which included renouncing violence.
During his testimony to Congress following the negative public reaction to Clinton's clemency, Dipko was specifically questioned about one of the terrorists, Alejandrina Torres (the wife of a UCC minister), and seemed to justify the UCC's defense of Torres because "she had convictions about the self-determination of the peoples of Puerto Rico". Dipko was then shown a surveilence video of Torres building a bomb. After viewing it, Dipko claimed "If that is an accurate record of the happening and that is in fact what she was doing, the church would wish to, of course, disassociate from it." Our church didn't "disassociate from it" and in fact has further embraced the terrorists.
Unfazed by the video and public backlash, leaders in the United Church of Christ have continued to promote the FALN terrorists as freedom fighters. In November of 2006, the national office of the United Church of Christ hosted an art exhibit of work done by by Torres and Rivera. At the opening reception for the exhibit, Alejandrina Torres was the honored speaker and was praised by UCC President John Thomas and Linda Jaramillo, the UCC's executive minister of the Justice and Witness Ministries. Jaramillo went so far as to call Alejandrina Torres a "role-model". Torres has never cooperated in the investigation of the bombings, has never apologized for her crimes and has never apologized to the victims of her crimes. Adding insult to injury, Thomas and Jarmillo continue to falsely claim that Torres "has been fully exonerated by law enforcement agencies, the courts and the federal government". Torres has never been exonerated by any agency, court or the federal government.