Friday, May 1, 2009

Stunning Pew Poll Results on Religion & Torture

Photo from a NowPublic news story: Guantanamo anniversary sparks world protests

Data from a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 14-21, 2009, among 742 American adults. Other religious groups not reported due to small sample sizes.

Question wording:
Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?

This Pew poll about religion and torture is very disturbing. While the other polls show the religion of the respondents they do not link the religion with the answers to the other questions.

It's very interesting to note that the highest percentage  against using torture comes from respondents who say they are unafilliated and go to church rarely or never. 

According to the poll, the more often you go to church the more you support torture. Wow. That's a real eye opener.

I think based on this poll that quite a few of our churches need to do some soul searching. I hate to say this but in my view this willingness to torture "terrorists"  may sadly be due to the faith of the terrorists. It would be interesting to see if they polled these same people and presented the question from the perspective of the Iraqi government and asked them if it they thought it was justified to torture Christian terrorists in order to obtain important information. I have a feeling the answer might change dramatically and that thought is very disturbing. If I'm off base on the reason, I'd love to hear what others think might help explain these numbers.

I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ. - Mahatma Ghandi

In the NYT survey this was the result to a similar question:

Do you think it is sometimes justified to use waterboarding and other aggressive interrogation techniques from a suspected terrorist, or are these tactics never justified?

37%    Justified
46%    Never Justified 
  7%     Depends
10%    Don't know 

I also went back to the 4/23 WaPo poll and found this information about using torture. The numbers in the circle were an earlier poll so things are getting worse.

30. Obama has said that under his administration the United States will not use torture as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism, no matter what the circumstance. Do you support this position not to use torture, or do you think there are cases in which the United States should consider torture against terrorism suspects? 

Support not using torture 49% (58)
There are cases to consider using torture 48% (40)
No opinion 2% (2)

The NBC/Wall Street Journal did not ask this question.

UPDATE: Jim White at Oxdown Gazette also has a post up on this topic

UPDATE 2: Newsweek and the Washington Post have a discussion about this topic on the Post's website

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