Sunday, September 14, 2008

Torture attitudes

Here's a disturbing bit of data:

"A new poll commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer University and conducted by Public Religion Research demonstrates the conflicted attitudes on torture among white evangelical Christians in the South."

In short, white, Southern evangelicals are more likely to approve of torture than the US population at large. Fifty-seven percent of WSEs responded that they think torture can often or sometimes be justified. Only 48 percent of the population at large thinks so.

Then when asked to consider torture in light of the Golden Rule, suddenly torture doesn't sound as good.

It's a very disturbing poll, to me anyway, suggesting a hard disconnect between the way we think about political/secular issues and our faith. (You can find details on this poll here.) Or how hard it is to tie our basic faith premises to real world scenarios unless they are placed side by side in front of us -- unless we rub our face into it.

The word "torture" appeared in the gospel reading this morning, which I also found disturbing. Jesus is talking about forgiveness and then Matthew says he ends this great parable about forgiveness with, "And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Well, praise to you, Lord Christ.

I found this disturbing (sorry to keep using that word, but that's the best one I've got) for a number of reasons, but the one the eats at me today is that this could potentially be used to justify our nation's current odious policy of using torture.

If this is an issue that disturbs you, too, may I direct your attention to the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. I can't believe we even have to have an organization like this in the United States in 2008. But since we do, I'm glad they're there doing this work.


qoe said...

Torture has already been justified; the government doesn't apparently need the approval of evangelicals. One word from Cheney is enough.

There is only one thought a person should ever have in mind when asked about torture: what if the person being tortured were me?

That would quickly put the entire question into its proper perspective, wouldn't it? I think that is what Jesus was suggesting in the reading.

People who thoughtlessly answer these polls always seem to have an anonymous "them" in mind, "they" would be tortured.

But, the roving finger does not play favorites, does it?

qoe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jean said...

I actually found this to be an encouraging article - not because of the alarmingly high number of people who support torture but because of the surprisingly large number of people who were willing to change their mind about it once they thought about the golden rule.

qoe said...

Andrew Sullivan on torture: