When I think of torture and the Christian faith I immediately think of Jesus -- who according to the gospels underwent considerable suffering at the hands of his Roman executors. I think too of the historical record, where Christians -- leaders and non-leaders suffered in the Roman arenas -- crucified, burned, thrown to the lions or the gladiators --
Of course there is the Inquisition -- I need say no more. There is, indeed, a very mixed record on our part.
Well John Green, of Pew Research, has written an article for The Review of Faith & International Affairs (Summer 2007), that shares some recent polling data that is -- at least to me quite disturbing.
When it comes to torture -- white Evangelical Protestants are the most permissive, with 51.6% believing that torture can be justified, at least sometimes, while only 29.2% say it is never justified. Before we Mainline Protestants begin to think too highly of ourselves, it is worth pointing out that only 44.1% say at least sometimes it's justified and 33 % never justified.
Black Protestants are similar in to White Protestants -- except they are less likely to say that it's often justified (9.5% versus 18.8%).
Overall weekly worshippers have a more restrictive view of torture than less regular ones, but still . . .
A much better predictor is political affiliation:
66.8% of Republicans have a permissive view of torture, while 33.6% of Democrats take a permissive view. At least I can take solace that I'm in good company with my fellow liberal Democrats -- but that religion makes such a little difference is alarming, especially with all of the recent statements by Evangelical, Catholic, and Mainline Protestant leaders condemning it.
Fear, yes fear, is the driver here!