Friday, May 01, 2009

The morality of torture

A Pew Research Center survey reveals that, in general, the more Americans go to church the more willing they are to support torture. According to a CNN article:

More than half of people who attend services at least once a week -- 54 percent -- said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. Only 42 percent of people who "seldom or never" go to services agreed, according to the analysis released Wednesday by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

What is taught about the morality of torture in the churches attended by these people who think torture is "justified?" I doubt that the ministers or priests in their churches are actually preaching torture.

Although I seldom see it talked about I think the difference between those who think that America should never torture and those willing to accept it is the attitude toward those likely to be tortured. I think that those who always oppose torture see the likely victims of torture as people fundamentally like themselves and those who think torture is justified assume that those tortured are "the other." I suspect that these regular churchgoers who think torture is justified have an us-against-them view of the world that trumps the Christian teachings of "love thy neighbor", "turn the other cheek", the parable of the Good Samaritan and the compassionate example of Jesus, the healer.

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