Christians More Supportive of Torture than Non-Religious Americans

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Americans, by a 59-31% margin, believe that CIA “treatment of suspected terrorists” in detention was justified.

A plurality deemed that “treatment” to be “torture,” by a 49-38% margin.

Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)

Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) A full three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants outnumber the 22% of their brethren in saying CIA treatment was justified. White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.

But a majority of non-religious adults, 53%, believe the CIA actions were not justified, with 41% of the non-religious saying the treatment was justified.

These results are rather astonishing, aren’t they? (The National Religious Campaign Against Torture, for example, would suggest that religious people mostly oppose torture. UPDATE: The National Council of Churches tweets: “Wrong,@sarahposner, @NRCATtweets is fully aware that religious ppl are more likely to support #torture, and laments.“) Or are they not? Perhaps the respondents were not leaning on scripture, but rather what they deemed to be national security or life and death considerations. (Majorities in all three of these Christian groups believed the torture “produced important information that could not have been obtained any other way,” even though the Senate report debunked that claim.)

I’d like to see more polling on this, but still, it’s a striking look at the way religion (or lack thereof) informs people’s views on legal and moral questions.


  •' el_donaldo says:

    I’m going to guess that these opinions are in a stark contrast to at least some the official positions of the various denominations. Certainly the U.S. Conference of Bishops has come out strongly against the torture as described in the report, though I don’t know how the various evangelical organizations would fall out.

  • If you would like to do something to help turn these poll numbers around, please consider working with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture, which I founded in 2006. NRCAT played an important role behind the scenes in getting the Senate torture report released. But we need to redouble our efforts in reaching people in the pews.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    We knew years ago the evangelical Christians were the segment of the population most supportive of torture. A part of this has to be because their men instituted it. They elected Bush and the Republicans, and we ended up with torture, and so they are more likely to think torture was justified, or a good idea. Those who opposed Republicans from the start have more reason to be against torture. It makes them feel more like they always knew the conservatives were trouble, and they were.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Majorities in all three of these Christian groups believed the torture “produced
    important information that could not have been obtained any other way,”
    even though the Senate report debunked that claim.” – Sarah Posner

    Facts do not matter, beliefs matter. If the religious believe that torture yields results, no amount of factual data will dissuade their thinking (or lack-of-thinking, as the case may be).

    The hypocrisy is exposed if you ask the same questions but phrase them so the terrorists are torturing US service personnel to learn details regarding our “imminent attacks.” My atheistic/humanistic answer doesn’t change depending on who is in the torture chair, but I bet the religious’ answers will. This is why the US has rightly lost its moral authority in the world…because of the choices we as US citizens made to support a government that kidnaps (uh, sorry, “renditions”) people and tortures them or sends them to our mercenary-bullies to be tortured. All while claiming to follow, or implying our superiority to, international law.

  •' DKeane123 says:

    Torture is built right into the theology. Do bad by God and spend an eternity getting water boarded. Seems to me that a natural extrapolation is that do wrong by USA (God’s chosen country – obv), and little torture here on earth isn’t no big deal.

  • So-called “Christian” support for torture in America is based more upon the political affiliations of those Christians and less upon their religion. There is something wrong when political beliefs trump Christian morals.

  •' NancyP says:

    I think that the common theme is that a majority of American Christians respect “authority” in the form of their pastors and their favorite political pundits on TV and radio, and do not have the attitude that one should examine the facts and come to a conclusion instead of delegating that responsibility to their pastor, “public opinion”, fake scenarios from TV shows (“24”). Religion also tends to reinforce biases in some people. The sceptics, deist non-participators in organized religion, or members of a denomination or congregation that encourages individual questioning about applications of beliefs or meanings of sacred scripture are more likely to consider the ethical issues on a rational basis.

  •' RockyLanding says:

    Christians are fond of claiming that without religion, and specifically, without the Bible, that there is no basis for morality. This claim is often used to dismiss atheism as inherently immoral.

    Of course, it is a bogus claim. Indeed, if one uses the Bible as a moral blueprint, than one will find justification for slavery, murder, extreme homophobia, extreme misogyny, and genocide. By the very nature of its theology, entire cultures, including billions of people who have lived and died in Central Asia, have been condemned to eternal torment, having never even heard the name Jesus Christ.

    And, of course, Christianity has a centuries-long history of torture. From the early popes of the first millennium, to the Crusades, to the Inquisitions, witch burnings that continued into the 17th century, and the atrocities committed by missionaries upon primitive cultures well into the 19th century, to name just a few, the history of Christianity is rife with bloodshed.

    Given such a cruel, and fascist ideology, is it really so surprising that Christians would return to an acceptance of torture?

  •' Transitrocker says:

    There is an attempt here to make a correlation between faith and torture as if the choice were: Torture vs Do Not Torture. That was not the choice. The choice was: risk watching innocent people die or torture some dangerous people in hopes of preventing it. I think Christians understand there is real evil in the world and they are honest about it. So, the real question is, would we be willing to break our own laws in order to save lives, or potentially risk innocent lives to preserve our way of life. Not an easy choice, but if there is a correlation, it is that Christianity deals with the fact that evil does exist and the fact that inaction can be as bad as an evil act itself. Not an easy choice, but potentially a loving one. I know a lot of Christians willing to risk their lives and spend their money to bring comfort and hope to people. That being said, I don’t know that torture is effective. The CIA has no business doing what it did without congressional & presidential approval/oversight.

  •' HyperSpiral says:

    I’m an ex-Christian, so make of this what you will, but when Jesus was in the cross, I don’t think he was trying to tell his disciples that crucifixion was something they should do to their enemies.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    We proved there is real evil in the world. A few Saudis attacked us on 9/11, so we responded by attacking a non-involved country that wanted no part of a fight with us because we saw them as the place in the world with the most valuable undeveloped oil fields. We wanted to take this unique opportunity provided by 9/11 to invade and build the strongest fort ever known to protect those oil fields for perhaps 40 years that it would take us to drain them. Unfortunately the changing political situation in this country made that plan not very workable, so the plan was changed to filter money through Wall Street instead. The war did give us a valuable opportunity to do more testing of our 21st century weapons systems.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    When they sold their soul to the party of the rich they had to take the good with the bad.

  •' GeniusPhx says:

    Christianity teaches an eye for an eye, that the punishment for not believing is death, and that only their god is the true god. It would stand to reason torturing people of other religions (or atheists) is perfectly fine to them.

  •' GMClifford says:

    The data suggests to me that among people who self-identify as Christian in the US a disturbingly large number of them are more “cultural Christians” than people who actually seek to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. Torture is inimical with the Christian gospel. Torture is also ineffective, which makes its use especially morally egregious (cf. my new book, Just Counterterrorism for an elaboration of these points).

  •' apotropoxy says:


    I would have bet my home that Christian religionists would be more amiable to torture than skeptics. The former comprise of a much higher % of authoritarian personality types, the latter not so much. Eric Cartman’s “Respect My Authoritah” command is honored to the letter by the large amygdalae folks.

  •' apotropoxy says:

    I disagree. Christianism provides an ideological home for authoritarians.

  •' apotropoxy says:

    Christians have made their highest holiday the torture execution of their deity. Its the only religion I know of that has built its faith architecture on victimization. Torture is mother’s milk to the Jesus believer.

  • I’m not familiar with that term so you would have to define it first, but I’m pretty sure it involves a heavy dose of politics which would only serve to prove my point.

  •' apotropoxy says:

    1. Christianism: the theology and practice associated with Christians. (i.e. Judaism: the theology and practice associated with Judaism.)

    2. Ideology: the visionary theorizing of a belief

    3. Authoritarians: those who favor obedience to thoughtfulness

  •' joni50 says:

    This is disgraceful! This is an example of why I do not consider myself a Christian, although I follow the teachings of Yeshua Ben Miriam aka Jesus Christ. In particular, his words “Whatsoever you do to the least of these, you do to Me” motivate me to stand in solidarity with those oppressed and despised. But what about national security? “Love your enemies.” How? “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    In this context, that means, listen to the greviances of the peoples that motivated the attack on the Twin Towers. It didn’t come out of nowhere, and they are not mad. It came out of years of domination and terror that they have endured at the hands of the US military industrial complex. Ben Laden explained this in videos that he made to the American people, videos which were roundly ignored and censored while we listened instead to our own narrative, about how these people are mad, they hate our freedoms, etc. Because we have not listened to the agrieved peoples, and have not addressed these greviances, terror has spawned more terror and now we have ISIS. Indeed, the chickens have come home to roost.

    This is nothing new. Those who defended slavery and conquest were Christians. It’s been this way ever since Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. Jesus wept.

  •' frharry says:

    I do not find this surprising, actually, even as I find it depressing. In my research for my doctoral dissertation on the Florida legislature, I found that sponsorship of bills which supported, expanded or created new sanctions for capital crimes varied greatly by stated religious affiliations of the legislators. The pattern was the same revealed by this poll (from most punitive to least) Evangelical Protestant – Mainline Protestant – Roman Catholic – Jewish – Non-Affiliated.

    The question with which I wrestled in that dissertation was explaining that pattern. The tentative explanation at which I arrived had to do with images of G_d and understandings of human nature. Andrew Greeley had constructed a template using David Tracy’s model of the presence of G-d vis-a-vis the world: analogical (G-d is observably present within the world) v. dialectical (G-d is radically absent from the world). Greeley found that the more sovereign, judging, masculine the images of G-d and correspondingly the more depraved the understanding of human nature, the more support that tradition’s representatives displayed for state killing. Conversely, the more compassionate, embracing, feminine the images of G-d and correspondingly the more malleable and positive the understanding of human nature, the less likely that tradition’s representative supported state killing.

    I have no doubts that there is much more to this phenomenon than this. But the unconscious lens through which we peer at our world makes a great deal of difference in what we find there.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    All this time I thought it was because more religious people wanted to get us to end times faster. So it is just their opinion of God’s opinion of how other religions should be treated. Religious people tend to see their opinions reflected in God’s plan.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    Have you considered the possibility that Jesus might just be a myth?

  •' joni50 says:

    Maybe he was and maybe he wasn’t. That doesn’t matter. What matters is the soundness and wisdom of his teachings, which are confirmed and upheld by the highest teachings of many other divine messengers, from Buddha to White Buffalo Calf Woman. And yeah, maybe they were myths too. Again, that doesn’t matter. Humans have always used stories to preserve and transmit our most important ideas.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    That is not the point of Christianity. Christianity is about believing in the name of Jesus above all else so that he will take you to heaven when you die, and also trying your best to get the rest of the world to believe too, and have them join in convincing everyone else. Sometimes the process gets messy.

  •' frharry says:

    “God created man in his own image. And man, being a gentleman, returned the favor.”
    — Rousseau

  •' joni50 says:

    Indeed. That’s why I don’t consider myself to be a Christian, and don’t identify as such.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    I think they have you there. If you get rid of all politics and obscure all beliefs, you have the perfect religion.

  •' Hezaa says:

    Human beings are exceptionally good at taking even the most benevolent, wise and constructive of ideas and turning them into a pyramid scheme.

  • Sarah, when you have preachers and priests advocating killing Muslims from the pulpit, it is not surprising that Christians would support such atrocities. I live in a community with four evangelical churches who all preach that the President is a Muslim, that killing of Muslims is justified, and that we should drive all people of that faith from our shores because we are a Christian nation. Perhaps they should consider Matthew 25 as they make these statements or support torture.

    I am a minister at a new interfaith church here, and I am the subject of slander, had flyers about church meetings removed from public displays by these churches’ members (including the wife of one of these pastors) and had members of these churches tell people I am Satan’s daughter and a danger to the community. Christians like these are the ones who support torture, are hard-right GOP/Tea Party fools who think Cheney walks on water, and who gleeful send their sons and daughters off to fight for “Christ against the Infidels” in the US military. This report should not surprise anyone.

    It is what Religious Right preachers have been teaching for nearly 100 years as part of the Apocalyptic movement, and as long as a rush to Armageddon is their only priority, these kinds of atrocities are perfectly acceptable, even when they produce nothing of value and put put American lives at risk.

    There was an interesting write-up on Daily Kos about a USMC Capt. Sherwood Moran, the most successful interrogator of Japanese POWs in the South Pacific in WWII. It included his memo on how to interrogate prisoners and it was what was taught at all military academies until Bush/Cheney took over. It is an article worth reading and I wish I had the link, but Googling it should find it. It should be noted that before and after he entered the service, Capt. Moran had been a Christian missionary in Japan for most of his adult life, and was well loved by all who knew him. He practiced what he preached always, and unlike today’s Christians, he would never consider the abuse of another human being acceptable. He understood the importance of Matthew 25, something the mindless followers of the Religious Right do not. Sadly, Jesus would never have supported these kinds of torture or any torture for any reason, but these faux Christians today do not think for themselves and do not care about others the way they profess to do.

    Rev. Devon J. Noll
    New Word Universal Fellowship Church
    Christmas Valley, OR

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The pyramid is negative (overall). Millions of people have lost billions of dollars.

  •' RockyLanding says:

    You seem to be making a common Christian assumption that being Christian puts you, ipso facto, on the side of good. This simplistic notion of good vs. evil, that sees no grey area on either side, is the same rationalization used for such Christian atrocities as the actions committed by the European Inquisitions, which institutionalized torture for centuries. It is the same rationalization that you are using for our country’s institutionalized torture at GITMO, and our foreign rendition centers. “They are evil, so it doesn’t matter what we do to them,” is not a moral viewpoint, and the idea that our institutionalized torture of detainees would be just fine if it were done with “congressional & presidential approval/oversight,” is astonishing.

  •' D N says:

    All mocking of any perspective aside – the lynchpin question in this survey set is

    “As best you can tell, do you think the CIA treatment of suspected
    terrorists did or did not produce important information that could not
    have been obtained any other way?”

    Most people aren’t qualified to tell, so they operate from a presumption one way or the other. If you presume this to be correct, then behaviors including torture are permissible, and even mandatory in a simple “greatest good for least harm” framework which is an ethical framework most western people tend to default to. If you presume false, then behaviors like torture becomes utterly impermissible in that same framework.

    The real question is why some people would presume that the CIA actions would in fact lead to truth telling during interrogations, and what is it about being white and protestant or catholic etc that makes this presumption so easy to make.

    I suspect that the being white and thinking physical abuse against non whites (most terrorists aren’t white) will produce results has much more to do with these internal judgments than being white and religion x y or z. Being located in a historical context that still contains vestiges of colonialism, manifest destiny, jim crow, and just generally being in a privileged majority for generations doesn’t make such a position tooooo hard understand.

    The data does show that around 60% of whites (regardless of college interestingly) presume yes to this question while far fewer non whites do. But the data doesn’t break out non-white in this question with other factors like religion or income which would be much more telling and re the conclusions this author is trying to draw.

  •' andrew123456789 says:

    I don’t like the headline. Christians are not more supportive. The headline should indicate that a larger percentage of Christians are supportive. These kinds of stories minimize those who do NOT support the terrible activity in question. It’s not Christianity doing this. It’s mob-think doing this. True Christianity is definitely AGAINST torture. It’s a question of philosophy and psychology to ask whether because a person is Christian, are they more likely to be for torture, and you cannot use statistics to answer that. I think much of this has to do with the culture of the individual churches, and the U.S. is full of toxic churches which barely understand the message of Jesus. This warrants much more analysis and I do mean philosophical, in-depth analysis, not pop pollster nonsense.

  •' cgosling says:

    Christians need to ask themselves, if Jesus really existed, what stand would he take on torture? If someone identifies as a Christian he/she must turn the other cheek when it comes to terror and most definitely would not condone torture. Christians cannot pick and choose which of Christ’s teaching they will accept. Atheists are free to pick and choose those reasonable things that make sense and are substantiated by science.

  •' Craptacular says:

    Interesting. It sounds like what is really debatable is whether it is religion in general or paternal-centric religions that are more inclined to advocate for torture and killing.

  •' Colin Robinson says:

    So what’s the news? They worship a god who they declare is loving and just who will torture billions of innocents for eternity.
    It’s always been the case that generally the more christian you are the more inhuman you are. The holocaust camps run by Catholic bishops didn’t bother gassing the jews, they just threw them, alive and screaming, into the furnaces. They’re going to burn for eternity anyway, what’s a couple more minutes?
    As Jesus said, “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
    Which obviously justifies torturing someone to death in order to save their soul.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “There is an attempt here to make a correlation between faith and torture as if the choice were: Torture vs Do Not Torture. That was not the choice.” – Transitrocker

    Of course we had a choice. And that is what we are talking about now, how wrong that choice was.

    “So, the real question is, would we be willing to break our own laws in order to save lives…” – Transitrocker

    What you are attempting to do is present a false dilemma in order to justify immoral behavior.

    Our laws aren’t worth the paper they are written on if we can’t maintain our society without breaking them. A society that has one set of laws for those in power versus another set of laws for the powerless can not endure. That is also part of the debate.

    Immoral behavior is immoral, even more so when those in power use it for their own ends, regardless of the justification. If we can’t obey our own laws, why would we expect others to?

  •' cgosling says:

    If I were being tortured I probably would say anything to stop the torture. I believe everyone, would do the same. During the Korean war Americans were brainwashed which was more effective than physical torture. Brainwashing demonstrated that by manipulating a persons belief system by guile, you can turn Americans against their own country and actually make them want to betray their country and be willing to say whatever their captures wish them to say. In Korea, we learned the human brain can be manipulated, twisted, and turned inside out. Many pro torture Christians still maintain that they can turn a Homosexual into a heterosexual simple by counseling, and no torture needed. The term “Pro torture Christian” should be an oxymoron according to the teachings of Christ. The Old Testament takes another approach and encourages atrocities of all sorts to ones enemies.

  •' fiona64 says:

    Of course torture is acceptable to the “who would Jesus hate” crowd. After all, we only do it to brown people, and those people are not our brothers and sisters.

    I wish that I were being sarcastic. 🙁 That’s how I see far foo many of the Teabangelicals these days.

  •' fiona64 says:

    This is an example of why I do not consider myself a Christian,
    although I follow the teachings of Yeshua Ben Miriam aka Jesus Christ.

    You and me both.

  •' jaydeon02 says:

    Exactly, and they’ll try to make you doubt the truthfulness of your remark with some nonsensical reply.

  •' Deist1737 says:

    As mentioned in another post, this is to be expected since Christianity and Islam are based on God torturing people for eternity in the fires of hell if they don’t believe. The driving motivation for a person to be a Christian is to escape hell. The driving motivation for a person to be a Muslim is to escape hell. Since Christians believe God tortures people why would they object to the CIA torturing people? Torturing people would be seen as a Godly act since according to their beliefs, God tortures.

    I hope one day people will replace the various “revealed”/hearsay religions with reason based Deism. As Thomas Paine wrote in The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, we need a revolution in religion based on our innate God-given reason and Deism.

    Progress! Bob Johnson

  •' Craptacular says:

    “But we need to redouble our efforts in reaching people in the pews.” – George Hunsinger

    Maybe. In my view, until facts actually matter to the religious, you are wasting your time and breath. Part of the problem comes with teaching/training the believers to ignore factual data and rely on their own “feelings” to learn the “truth” about their religion (eliminating the cognitive dissonance between reality and fantasy). Suppressing the cognitive dissonance in one area of your life (religion) seems to spill over into other areas…i.e. politics. This is why the “truth” becomes a malleable element to the religious, regardless of factual data.

    So while I encourage and upvote your efforts, you will need a better approach than just giving them the facts in order to change their minds.

    Finally, thank you for your efforts in getting the report released.

  • Thanks for your support. You are right that we need more than facts though of course the facts about U.S.-sponsored torture are essential. But if you look into NRCAT, you will see that we are not narrowly fact-oriented. All the best.

  •' Justin says:

    Nonsense. It breaks along the lines of those who blame America first and those who don’t. The Christians polled (why was it just white Christians?) do not typically blame America first and can see that this does not rise to the level of torture. Furthermore, they rightly see that if water boarding saves innocent lives and helps capture terrorists, then that is the route to take. This is not hard to grasp, and yes, water boarding does work and was instrumental in gaining vital information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (al-Qaeda’s former military chief).

  •' brucej says:

    “Facts do not matter, beliefs matter.” This is a fundamental tenet of evangelic theology, that faith trumps reason, trumps evidence. There’s a reason they’ve been carefully groomed for political support by the authoritarian right for decades.

  •' LegalizeLezMarriage says:

    “Yeshua ben Miriam”? Oh, I love it when Philosemitic Christians show up. ¬_¬

  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Maybe its more that the rightwing likes being id’ed with Christianity ’cause its the social thing to do, or they are just mean people.. To me they are not Christian, but supporters of a certain kind of politics. Emperor Constantin tried the same. So there is a pretend Christian. MSNBC reported a poll an stated 80% of Republicans think torture is fine with them. Less Democrats believe its wrong, (don’t recall the exact percentage) but its significant) A good and just god knows his own.

  •' Allah says:

    You are a liar.

  •' Jim Reed says:

    The concept of being exceptional and God’s chosen nation is just something that gained traction.

  •' John Q. Canuck says:

    What did black and Latino Christians think? Even more importantly, why did the researchers feel their opinions were not worthy of being included?

  •' nmgirl says:

    NO. The Old Testament teaches ‘eye for an eye’.

  •' nmgirl says:

    I think one reason is that few evangelicals actually read the entire new testament themselves. They take their biblical knowledge from pastors who cherry pick verses to enforce the patriarchal authoritarian system.

  •' GMClifford says:


  •' Judith Maxfield says:

    Yes, its true. Rather Neanderthal.

  •' pennyjane says:

    just points out how many people who call themselves “christian” wouldn’t know Christ from a box of crackerjacks.

  • Isn’t this the same misnaming of groups that gives us American “conservatives” who are not conservative at all, just babbling, power-worshipping lunatics?

    These “religious” and “Christians,” who are neither religious nor Christian, are probably the same bunch: the fear-ridden, ignorant, superstitious, and authoritarian mob.

    The important question is, what trains so many people to be that way?


  •' Rayce Archer says:

    So were there not statistically consistant numbers of people of other ethnicities or what?

  •' Aravis Tarkheena says:

    Somehow I doubt that majorities of Episcopalians endorse torture.

    Look, I am as anti-evangelical as anyone, but this strikes me as propaganda. Sure, majorities of *right-wing* Christians support torture, but I suspect that if one bracketed them and controlled so as to poll only left-wing Christians, they would be more anti-torture then the average American, regardless of religious affiliation.

  •' Liya says:

    alongside those lines, while on xtimas time… I had lively discussions with presumably sane older xtians re: Jesus not being a white, blue eyed boy as portrayed in Xtian media. The epic response was” my optometrist Mr.(something)berg is Jewish and he is very white!” Stuff the sitcoms are made of, i swear…

  •' fiona64 says:

    Most of those types would probably want Rabbi Yeshua detained for “questioning,” given that he probably looked like a typical Middle Eastern male.

  •' Buford2k11 says:


  •' Buford2k11 says:

    It all doesn’t matter…the End is Near…repent…all you sinners…or be tortured…just kidding…

  •' Sam from Brooklyn says:

    Of course they do. They long for the good old days of the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials.Christianity has a long and glorious history of using torture to exract confessions and convert the infidels.

  •' Z54 says:

    The christians are always running around saying that they want to be christ like. I’ve got to wonder if their christ wants anything to do with his followers?

  •' Felix Bunke says:

    Personally, I think it has to do with the authoritarianism inherent in h of Christianity.

  •' Felix Bunke says:

    Personally, I think it has to do with the authoritarianism inherent in much of Christianity.

  •' Anthony_McCarthy says:

    I’d like to see this poll, actually, since I can’t seem to access any information on it or how it was conducted from the WaPo site.

  •' Anthony_McCarthy says:

    Your links don’t work. I can’t check your statements.

  •' dan marsh says:

    The poll says Christians don’t believe the CIA committed torture. YOU say the poll says they approve of torture. Someone is torturing the truth.

  •' mountainguy says:

    I am a christian (not from USA), but I am not going to play the “no true scotsman card”. Looking at the charts is quite clear that (only white?) religious people in USA are far more supportive of torture than their non religious counterpart. But 40%? come on! this is still high. Is there any way to know how people in other countries (by religious affiliation) support torture? So, we could know if this is really a question of being or not religious, or maybe it has more to do wiht having been born in a country that can’t sustain itself without torture and preemptive strikes.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “The christians polled…do not typically blame America first and can see that this does not rise to the level of torture. Furthermore, they rightly see that if water boarding saves innocent lives and helps capture terrorists, then that is the route to take.” – Justin

    This is a prime example of the faulty reasoning behind the use of torture. Your disregard of factual data, ambiguous morality (torture is good if we do it to “save lives”), and casting those who are against torture as anti-American are the best examples of what is wrong with the morality in your religion. (Hint: it’s self-serving)

    Thank you for encapsulating all this in a single, concise paragraph of idiocy for all to see.

  •' TeddyBM says:

    Your point is a good one. I think that some people may have engaged in circular reasoning when they answered this question. From their perspective, they can’t imagine that the CIA and leaders who they admire would have engaged in Enhanced Interrogation Tactics (aka torture) if the information could have been obtained without using such techniques. Therefore, the fact that they used EIT has to mean that they did obtain information that could not have been obtained in another way.

    I also think that people who supported the actions of the Bush administration and the CIA would have a hard time accepting that the torture was unnecessary. Most people have a hard time changing their beliefs but that would be particular difficult if to do so it means that you have to accept that people you admire committed atrocities. I suspect that the CIA personnel and others who are defending the CIA actions would find it extraordinarily difficult to admit, if only to themselves, that they tortured people. or supported the torture of people. That would put them in the same category as some people who are despised and thought of as evil and it is too difficult for them to see themselves in that way. This is especially true if they truly engaged in such behavior because they believed that that was the only way to save Americans. Who would want to admit that they tortured someone for no benefit whatsoever? I don’t think that most people who defend the actions are lying. In order to live with themselves, they have to believe that they did not commit torture and if they did, it was for the benefit of Americans.

    This leads me to wonder how much the Senate report changed people’s views or how much influence religion has on their views. I have looked carefully at the results of this survey as it appears on the Washington Post website. It leaves me with many questions unanswered. What is the correlation between party identification and religion? If the percentage of Republican Christians is the same as the percentage of Christians who support torture then it may be that religion has nothing to do with their response. Or the effect could be indirect such that their religious views influenced their party identification which influenced their views on torture.

    And I find it difficult to come to much understanding based on the results of this survey because of the information that is not there. I would like to know what the responses were of people who did not fall into the specific religious categories that are mentioned and also did not state that they have no religion. I would like to see someone focus a survey on gaining a better understanding of religion, Christianity and views on torture. Can this be separated from political party?

  •' TeddyBM says:

    You hit on what I consider to be the most ironic point of all. The usual purpose of torture is to get people to admit to actions or beliefs that they did not engage in. Why were the Vietnam POWs tortured? It was to get them to make “admissions” that could be used for propaganda purposes. If it is known that torture can be used to get people to admit to anything to get the torture to stop, then how is it that it was thought that torture would get people to tell the truth? The CIA hired two psychologists for 81 million dollars (if memory serves me correctly) to create this torture program. I would really like to know what qualified these two psychologists to create such a program and what they could possibly have done that would justify a payment of 81 million dollars. And some of the people in Congress who are defending the CIA torture are the same people who often complain about government waste, and look to cut social programs. What would religious people have to say about spending $81 million for creating a torture program while cutting food stamps? If a religious person can justify that, then it may not be surprising if he or she can justify torture.

  •' TeddyBM says:

    The questions that were asked in this survey and the data that is reported on the Washington Post website make it difficult to come to conclusions – with one exception. For those who say that without religion, one has no moral compass, the results of this survey would make it clear that religion is not the only source that people go to to make decisions based on a sense of ethics and morality.

  •' cgosling says:

    Joni50 – You make a good point. Terrorism does not come from no place. “The terrorists have not had their day in court” theory has some truth to it. However most radical religionists do not accept laws, reason, fairness, and debate. Their truth comes from their God, not man. No argument, evidence, or reason can stand against what some religious leader claims his God has told him in prayer. For example: Their were those of the tribes of Israel who doubted Moses’s words were from God…and they were killed as nonbelievers. Conversations leading to resolution and debate were not acceptable to Moses. Muslim Terrorists do not wish to debate in courts, or in international forums. They have no room for compromise, they must have their way and no other. It is difficult to put ourselves into their brain set. Sometime, there is no alternative other than a tooth for a tooth. Negotiations and reason with Hitler did no good. In fact they did more harm than good.

  •' RexTIII says:

    I doubt any additional polling will produce results leaning in any other direction. There is nothing surprising about this data, starting with the first element being – those ‘tortured’ were Muslim = instant enemy. Thinking beyond the flag of imposed terror about the actual facts or the act of torture doesn’t merit the effort of further thought. A very similar result when it comes to the death penalty as an effective deterrent to crime, in spite of evidence otherwise and the constant flow of ‘former prisoners’ now free due to DNA and other court problems. The zest, the zeal of many within these same numbers are also those who actively support a continued demonizing of the LGBT Community. The List of consistency these numbers equate to – is quite a long list.

  •' nick.gotts says:

    I would bet it’s simply that the sample interviewed was limited, and not enough of those groups were included to provide a meaningful result. Note that the only ethnic groupings reported on are “White”, “**Non-white**”, and “Hispanic”; that libertarians, greens, socialists are not included, etc.

  •' nick.gotts says:

    That someone is you. The poll asked a number of questions, one of which was:
    “Looking ahead, do you feel that torture of suspected terrorists can
    often be justified, sometimes justified, rarely justified or never
    justified?”. Overall, 58% said it could sometimes or often be justified, 39% disagreed. The only religiously-defined group to go the other way was, again, those with no religion.

  • Many of us think of spirituality as being achieved through religious laws and pray or attendance. It is born within and grows with our thoughts.

  •' Harry McNicholas says:

    Historically, Christian churches practiced torture. People who were believed to be witches or at least accused of witchcraft were tortured to get them to confess. Jewish people in Spain were tortured. Anyone who was suspected of being a heretic or apostate was tortured. So this poll is not surprising.

  •' Harry McNicholas says:

    Hm, didn’t Hitler say something similar about Germany and the Germans?

  •' Harry McNicholas says:

    Likely not much different than White Christians since they are taught the same messages.

  •' dan marsh says:

    I’ll admit I didn’t see that poll question. But the well was already poisoned. Taken in context, the pollster has already suggested to the respondent that the CIA committed “torture.” What the respondent is meaning to say is quite likely, “Yes, I think the CIA’s policies should be continued.”

    If you ask the question, “Do you believe the government should be able to detail and torture people if it believes that doing so may prevent innocent people from being killed,” you’ll probably see much more opposition among conservatives.

  •' Craptacular says:

    “Many of us think of spirituality as being achieved through religious laws…” – religion and community

    Well, then, you are wrong. Oppression is what you are promoting.

  •' Blast_Dorrough777 says:

    Christians put faith in man-contrived texts. That’s obviously putting faith in man, not Nature’s God. U.S. founded on true theology of science-based Deism as affirmed in Declaration of Independence. True theology must be science-based from Universal word/works of Nature’s God in creation itself. Jesus attempted to reform Jewish faith based on his egalitarian and benevolent teachings for all of human kind, not for the greedy. That is the reason Jesus was murdered. Also, Jesus in reality recognized Deism as true theology since a faith and belief in one God. The Christian Quakers were Deists and were continually persecuted and executed by Christian leaders prior to the American Revolution because they recognized Jesus along with other sons and daughters of the presumed Creator as mere humans. Despite what religioncrafters say God-given reason tells Humankind no human being has ever communicated with God.

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