Churchgoers Are More Likely to Support Torture

The Pew Research Center conducts a lot of surveys - but this one yielded a very surprising result: churchgoers, especially Evangelicals, are more likely to support torture than those unaffiliated with any religious organization.

The more often Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.

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.

White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified -- more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

Link

(Photo: sduffy [Flickr])


I'm sure it wasn't asked, but I'd also expect evangelicals to be less likely to label Truman a war criminal for dropping the A-bomb.
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Sorry, no time to read the article today so I hope this isn't covered in it. Could it be that these religious zealots are just all for torturing other religious zealots (who HAVE to be wrong to justify how RIGHT the US church goers are (in their own minds, of course.) Some of the most stomach-turning viciousness has always been perpetrated by those of one religious belief toward another.
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Elagie - The greatest mass murders (read: stomach-turning viciousness) of all time were Stalin, Mao, and Hitler. Hardly religious zealots there. You've made your hatred of those that actually attend church plain, so there's probably little to expect from you in terms of intellectual honesty on the subject at hand. No time for that either, I assume.
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I suppose thinking that you have moral superiority makes it easier to justify those that don't share the same views. This is hardly surprising.

danoso: If you want to pick "all time" as your reference, they pale in comparison to religious fueled killings throughout history. Maybe instead of accusing someone of intellectual dishonesty, you should worry about your intellectual laziness.
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"The analysis is based on a Pew Research Center survey of 742 American adults conducted April 14-21. It did not include analysis of groups other than white evangelicals, white non-Hispanic Catholics, white mainline Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated, because the sample size was too small."

Why don't they ask how many black muslims support beheading?
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Sigh...

We can go all day with one group of self-righteous hypocrits pointing fingers at another group of self-righteous hypocrits.

But I'll throw in anyway - we love tossing around this term "torture" without clearly defining exactly what it means.

If you bring any sort of discomfort whatsoever to a captive, then some panty-waist is going to whine "torture". Where do we draw the line? How far should we go to protect our citizens? Is it any way possible we can have a rational discussion about it without someone breaking down in tears or going on a rant about "western imperialism"?
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Jesus, Mohammed, Ghandi, et al would not be amused by this inhumanity. I don't think "religious" people are truly following their mentors' philosophy.

Even if this poll only covered "Christians", I suspect we could find similar results in other religious groups--those who espouse they belong to the world's major religions.
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Wow, reading the story it seems that this study is so poorly designed as to be meaningless. Using the plain percentages there is no accounting for correlated extraneous variables. There would be a clear correlation between type of church attended and political views. Evangelicals tend to be more conservative and Mainline church-goers tend to be more liberal. Thus their views on torture can just as easily be ascribed to political view as their church attendance. I can think of 3 other possible extraneous variables just off the top of my head. Don't these people do these polls for a living? Haven't they ever taken at least one class on how to design and statistically analyze a survey?
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Don't forget, one of the biggest supporters of the war in Iraq were the religious right who supported Bush (and still do). Some of these people who are the first to scream about anti Christian/religious bias in the media, and raise a storm about a decline in western "moral" values (same sex marriage, etc. etc.), are the very ones who have no qualms about denigrating Islam and torturing people in the name of some insane crusade.

Pure hypocrisy.
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Alan Andrew:

I commend your open-mindness and inclusion of diverse ways of thought.

But placing Mohammed with the likes of Jesus Christ, Buddha, and Ghandi is a little off.

None of these other men were warlords. They never resorted to violence in order to spread their philosophy. Mohammed killed a great many people. There is no getting around this fact.

But you're 100% correct on your point of moral relativism - and how so-called "religious" people perverting the peaceful teachings of their founders.
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This poll was done with 742 participants. That's not a very large base to sample from. In one congregation, you can have vast differences of opinion. CNN should be ashamed of itself.
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The US only allowed "torture" when they thought it could provide information to prevent an imminent attack. I think it is reasonable to prefer making a couple of terrorists uncomfortable rather than having thousands of people die in another attack.

It also depends how "torture" is defined and how far it would go. I would think people would be more likely to oppose cutting off limbs than to oppose waterboarding or strobe lights. The US was very strict on what types of methods could be used, and careful safety precautions were taken to prevent injury.
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@ted

All TV news should have been ashamed of itself alot of times, and it's not planning to start. It just wants people to get all angry and pissy so their ratings can go up like FOX and MSNBC.
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@dogrun81

Would you like to be water boarded and be put in a state of "simulated drowning" to get an idea of how torture is defined? The whole idea of torture isn't about the wellbeing of the torture victim, physical wounds heal, but mental scars last until your dead or work it out in therapy. It’s all about extracting information, and what’s done with the meat afterwards isn’t important. That’s what torture is.
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@ Troy - You make an interesting point. Why is it that Christian Evangelicals cling to the Conservative Party for being anti-abortion and anti-gay, but turn a blind eye to the pro-war, pro-torture aspects of that group? Seems to me like they're picking and choosing which "Christian Values" they'd like to support.
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perhaps it is because the Christians are fed up with the persecution and they represent a more conservative base of people that know the truth of the matter. it has happened forever and shall still happen. i don't know about you, but the simple fact that I don't want to be waterboarded or whatever is a major deterrent from executing whatever crime that could bring about such treatment. when that person knowingly commits the crime, either by direct action or by association, they knowingly made a choice that will void them of any future rights if caught.
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"Would you like to be water boarded and be put in a state of “simulated drowning” to get an idea of how torture is defined? The whole idea of torture isn’t about the wellbeing of the torture victim, physical wounds heal, but mental scars last until your dead or work it out in therapy. It’s all about extracting information, and what’s done with the meat afterwards isn’t important. That’s what torture is."

see, this is how it gets taken out of context. as i said before, you know when you screwed up, you know the consequences. the probability for me being tortured EVER is exactly 0%. that is a fact, jack.
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I do agree that most of these opinions of the church goers are swayed by the political opinion (republican or liberal) of their preacher which they take word for word. But then again, maybe they were firm in their political choice which is why they choose that particular church because it coexists well with their world view. Being born and raised into a particular belief system too may have an impact, but things can always change along the way depending on that individual's personality. Oh, and I would like to add that statistics are always a poor way to base a study on, there are people that lie, and in the end the people paying for the study direct the results to look the way they want them to.

@Skidworth

Many “Christian's” have had their turn at persecution against other groups, and I can't stand how groups try and play the victim when the thing they are supporting has been the aggressor so many times in the past. It’s a life of push and shove, it always has been.
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@Jenny
I really wasn't making a judgement about the political views of either group of church goers. I was mostly making a comment about how the poll in question was really meaningless because of the low numbers of participants and it's poor design. I find it funny that people here are using the results to "confirm" their views about Christians, conservatives, etc. I'm not defending the groups, I don't consider myself conservative or evangelical. Speaking to your point, there are a lot of historical reasons that Evangelicals tend to be conservative (not all of them are conservative, btw. Stereotyping works for liberals too). Overall, I think that people get nervous when their culture changes too fast. They retreat into traditions and traditional values. Their religious beliefs get pushed aside in favor of their defence of the status quo for it's own sake, which they tend try to warp their beliefs to fit. The political right has tapped into these fears and tendencies better than the political left. It started with Reagan in the late 70's and continued through GWB.
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742 American adults polled?!

What did they do, go to ONE white-evangelical-conservative church ONE Sunday morning and just ask around.

That figure is roughly the size of ONE small church congregation, not even a 3rd of an average sized so called "mega-church".

Seems like the authors of this survey are purposefully trying to propagate an untruth or imply something that isn't there.
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@Lex Fear

That's what you have to expect from today's televised "investigative journalism". They know the answer even before they ask the question, all they are actually investigating is a way how to screw with the results.
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I looked again at the data. 25% of regular attendees say it's never justified, compared to 23% of those who go occasionally in the year. The Regulars also have 2% less who say torture is often justified. It seems the worst group is actually those who occasionally go, not the regulars. CNN just skewed the headline for sensationalism.
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This "poll" simply confirms that the current controversy isn't about "torture" or what constitutes "torture". It's about the left wanting to label those that they disagree with as "torturers".

What they didn't tell you is that Evangelicals were also much less likely to support communism, fascsim and other leftist pathologies and therefore never support mass murder.
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@Che is dead

Fascism is actually a far right ideology, and it doesn't much like communism or the far left either. Christianity has had a lot of history of inflicting mass murder with the crusades, the inquisition, and the Salem witch trials. If you support Christianity and its history, you’re supporting mass murder.
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I'm surprised that anyone supports torture, since as I understand it, it's been shown repeatedly not to produce reliable information.
It costs a lot, it's degrading and damaging for torturer and victim, and it's politically damaging, if not at once then certainly later.

If I didn't already know that governments have a history of pursuing policies that sound good but in practice don't work, I'd wonder why they keep doing it?
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Tell you what. I will not be a part of any plot to fly airplanes into buildings, or use dirty bombs to kill innocent civilians for any reason. Now you have no reason to so called "TORTURE" me. and yeh, what god?
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@Skidworth, no one is safe when torture is allowed and promoted by the government.

Believe what you will, but a lot of innocent people have gone to jail for decades for crimes they did not commit, put to death for crimes they did not commit, and now tortured for crimes they had no part in. And that is truth.

If you're a white, male Christian, then your odds of suffering illegal treatment from the U.S government is much lower, but it is never ZERO.
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pers...i have to disagree. i will not allow myself to get even remotely close to a situation that could get me on the wrong side of the law. the only way i could ever be tortured is to be captured wrongly by my government and i would rather die than to be passive enough to be tortured. it is called "patriotism", something every one seems to have forgotten. it is all about the individual now, which shall be the downfall of society.
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"If you’re a white, male Christian, then your odds of suffering illegal treatment from the U.S government is much lower, but it is never ZERO"

how do you figure i have the cards stacked in my favor? i've yet to get a break for anything because i'm a white male. that is what we, the silent majority...teabaggers....whatever you want to call us....are mad about. the misconception that because we are white males we have the world at our hand. there is NOTHING remotely true in that, as i stated i'm still waiting on that honky magic to kick in.
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This brings up an interesting little tidbit about christian beliefs. "Hell" is real for most forms of christianity, isn't it? And therefore "torture" is implicit in the belief system, if you don't follow along. Everybody who does not believe, according to most christian theologies, will be sent to "hell" to be tortured unmercifully, forever and ever.

Wouldn't the constant repetition of this threatened, god-sanctioned, inevitable torture lead those folks into some pretty awful sorts of mental conditions? I mean, if you actually believed that your god would not only allow torture, but create a special place for torture to occur, then a little eye-burning or nail-ripping or water-boarding on earth is really no big thing, is it?

Which is why I (and many others) think that christians are mentally ill. One day that opinion will become the norm.
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This study focuses on whether or not people go to church, rather than the people's beliefs. There's no direct connection between going to church and supporting torture. Rather, this correlation is probably the result of the fact that most Christians, who make up the majority of the religious population in the US, believe in eternal damnation (torture) and mandatory church attendance. Many other church-oriented religions condemn torture, and sometimes even violence as a whole.
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I would have said these results are completely obvious and have nothing whatsoever to do with religion. A high percentage of Christians and an even higher percentage of Evangelical Christians are extremely politically conservative and political conservatives tend to support (at least not condemn) torture in the interest (or supposed interest) of national security. It has nothing to do with religion, compassion, or the Spanish Inquisition.
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@Galdaur

Fascism is the ugly stepsister to communism. It is in no way right wing by the American definition of the term.

The lie to communism is that the people can own or control anything without members of the state as the management.

Both types of governments are statist with strong central control. The American Right is federalist and should be for limited government Both oppose free markets.

Stalinists dubbed Fascists rightwing because that was the propaganda.

I know, wikis aren't the answer.

Still read this: http://tinyurl.com/d9fvtm

There is much more to this than I can write or than this wiki can tell. But they make a pretty good start.
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it's actually quite easy for a person to discern what is torture and what isn't torture. americans just need to ask themselves what they'd be willing to see happen to their own POW's.

it's pretty much a rehash of the golden rule, just in opposition. don't do unto others as you wouldn't have them do unto you.
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I was hoping that President Obama would close down these churches when he took office but it looks like he will wait until his second term. I wish he would move faster but he probably knows best. There is probably opposition in the Congress that we don't know about. The best thing is to stay informed.
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If sodomizing an 11 year old local girl with pigtails would protect the lives of five thousand citizens would it be OK to do it?
We don't abhor torture the way we might.
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"I was hoping that President Obama would close down these churches when he took office but it looks like he will wait until his second term. I wish he would move faster but he probably knows best. There is probably opposition in the Congress that we don’t know about. The best thing is to stay informed."

Are you serious?
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