What would Jesus do? Torture. Waterboarding, rectal feeding, sleep deprivation, and a slavish devotion to former Vice President Dick Cheney are all good things according to a majority of Christians in the U.S.
While a majority of Christians support torture, a majority of non-religious Americans oppose torture.
Sara Posner, writing for Religion Dispatches, reports “Christians are more supportive of torture than non-religious Americans.” The following is an excerpt from that report:
A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Americans, by a 59-31% margin, believe that CIA “treatment of suspected terrorists” in detention was justified.
A plurality deemed that “treatment” to be “torture,” by a 49-38% margin.
Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious.
Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) A full three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants outnumber the 22% of their brethren in saying CIA treatment was justified. White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.
But a majority of non-religious adults, 53%, believe the CIA actions were not justified, with 41% of the non-religious saying the treatment was justified.
A leading Christian conservative, the American Family Association’s Bryan Fischer, recently suggested on his radio program that Jesus would support the use of torture in a time of war.
Right Wing Watch reports Fischer said that the Bible makes certain things permissible during times of war that would not be permissible during times of peace, and that Jesus is a “warrior” who would probably approve of torture.
However, one war hero, Senator John McCain of Arizona, gave an eloquent speech in which he explained why it was wrong for the CIA to engage in torture. The following is a brief excerpt from that moving speech:
.. the use of torture compromises that which most distinguishes us from our enemies. Our belief that all people, even captured enemies, possess basic human rights which are protected by international conventions, [which] the United States not only joined but for the most part, authored.
That so many Christians in the U.S. would believe their Savior, the “Prince of Peace,” the man who instructed his followers to “turn the other cheek,” would approve of torture is an odd if not surprising combination of irony and hypocrisy, and a sad commentary on the moral vision, or lack thereof, that guides the nation.