Church Goers Most Likely To Support Torture

We have a perfect example here, via Chris Good, to demonstrate that, contrary to conventional conservative thought, being more religious is not necessarily a sign of being more moral:

According to a new study from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, those who attend church at least weekly are more prone to say that torture is justifiable. Suffice it to say that, in the eyes of those who support the use of torture, Khalid Sheikh Muhammad and Abu Zubaydah do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.

A combined 54 percent of at-least-weekly church-goers say torture is either often or sometimes justifiable; for those who attend monthly or a few times a year, that figure is 51 percent; for those who do not attend, it is 42 percent.

Evangelicals, according to the survey, are more prone to saying torture is justifiable than members of the nation’s other two main Christian groups: so-called “mainline” Protestants and white, non-Hispanic Catholics. Unaffiliateds–a conglomerated group of atheists, agnostics, and those who say their religion is “nothing in particular–support torture the least: 40 percent say it’s justifiable often or sometimes.

I didn’t find this surprising considering the history of organized religion. Chris Good also explains this based upon both the amount of violence in the Bible and by looking at the constituency of the Bush administration:

Let us not forget that the main storyline of the New Testament is one of torture: Jesus comes into the world and dies an excruciating death to redeem the sins of man. Perhaps those closest to the story are most comfortable with suffering when there’s a purpose behind it–here, that purpose would be to obtain information. The eschatological bent of some Evangelicals might account for some Revelation-style views on punishment, too.

Let’s also keep in mind that the Bible, from start to end, has a lot of violence in it. The Old Testament, in particular, is filled with the slaughter of villages, and I’d be interested to hear how Jews respond to the torture question–unfortunately, Pew only broke down the Christian groups above. Israel’s long experience with the threat of terrorism might shape Jewish views on the matter as well.

And, obviously, President Bush, whose administration started the practice of enhanced interrogation, courted religious conservatives in two elections as a significant faction of his base…

Update: CNN picked up the story leading (via Memeorandum) to several other bloggers commenting.

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