Torture and the Polls

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!


Mystical Seeker said…
It is pretty appalling to see how many people of all stripes think that torture is acceptable, and if a third of Democrats think that way, that doesn't speak very well for them either. It is also amazing how many people of faith just throw their moral sense out the window on this issue. I don't think I can conceive of a more brutal example of evil than torture. If religions are not at the forefront of this issue, then we have a big problem.

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