12 Comments

Evangelicals seem unfazed by torture. Why?


The Pew forum posted an interesting follow-up today to their recent findings, (see: More white Evangelicals support torture)

Does conservative Christianity encourage torture?

That debate has been reignited by new numbers from the Pew Research Center that show white evangelicals are more supportive of “torture to gain important information from suspected terrorists” than any other religious or political group in the survey.

Less than half of the general public (49 percent) say government-sponsored torture can “often” or “sometimes” be justified, compared to almost two-thirds of white evangelicals (62 percent).

That view is almost identical to the view of Republicans (64 percent), giving fuel to the charge that evangelicals’ views on torture are rooted more in politics than their faith.

“Conservatives are living within their own moral universe,” said Joel Hunter, an evangelical megachurch pastor from suburban Orlando, Fla. “In the last few decades, we have kind of created our own moral terms — more neoconservative than walking in sacrificial love.”

The torture debate within evangelical circles is as complex and multi-layered as evangelicals themselves. First, do the Pew numbers matter, and how much? And second, if evangelicals are finding their way to an endorsement of torture, how are they getting there?

“The data in our survey points to many white evangelicals thinking first as partisans and second as people of faith,”…

more here

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12 comments on “Evangelicals seem unfazed by torture. Why?

  1. It isn’t even torture. On the news they had a CIA special forces agent talking about it, saying he waterboarded new recruits all day long. He says it is a “torture” that is primarily in the mind. It makes you feel like you’re drowning, even though you really aren’t in any sort of physical danger. It’s false premise really. But to address the question, maybe evil “white” Christians support “torture” more than other Americans because they have a higher set of ethics. If you’re going to make a terrorist very uncomfortable in order to save American lives, the moral logic from here is very simple. It’s only Pj and a few people perpetually upset with the “Right” that cannot follow this line of simple logic. Obama is out to wussify our interrogation techniques, to the point that we can’t even shout at a prisoner because it might emotionally “torture” him. That pretty much makes interrogation rather useless going forward and puts our people in danger. Such is the price of thinking like a Pj Miller or Barack Hussein Obama.

    • Ricardo,

      this report and the follow up article above isn’t about ‘is it’ or ‘is it not’ torture..its about the question of ‘why’ a huge part of white evangelicals in America actively support torture–thats torture of ‘any kind’

      In other words its a Church issue.

    • Ricardo, I wish to take this opportunity to back off a bit from some of my previous rhetoric with you over this issue. After reading Ann Coulter’s (who I think represents market-place Christianity about as bad as one could) latest column, I recognize truth is truth.

      It is my (humble?) opinion that only waterboarding and sleep deprivation cross the torture line, but they are very mild forms of torture.

      Yet the larger question is the more important one–as is raised below–what American evangelicals are so much world lovers (contra 1 John 2), so that we are willing to harm some bad people to save the lives of other bad people, when this should be left to the world’s domain.

      Like Roman Catholic/Constantinian “Christianity”, we don’t speak into the system, we are the system.

    • [QUOTE]After reading Ann Coulter’s (who I think represents market-place Christianity about as bad as one could) latest column, I recognize truth is truth.[/QUOTE]

      A very strange way to define Ann Coulter. Your definitions must be outside of the regular meaning.

      [QUOTE]It is my (humble?) opinion [/QUOTE]

      Hardly humble, but you can pretend.

      [QUOTE]Yet the larger question is the more important one–as is raised below–what American evangelicals are so much world lovers (contra 1 John 2), so that we are willing to harm some bad people to save the lives of other bad people,[/QUOTE]

      You essentially just said that terrorists are no different than American people. Tis just became obvious why you called Ann a “market place” Christian. It’s because you’re sense of difinitions, of standards, are utterly warped. I cannot take a person like you seriously, not when you are incapable of even the smallest of moral judgments. To compare the two betrays your blindness and your lack of “Christ-like” discernment. Do not speak for God, or pretend to be of God, while speaking such foul things.

  2. It’s probably also that “white evangelicals” consider themselves in line with culture and society more than others (even though they fear that’s about to change, and try prevent any change they feel might change this situation)

    I can understand that people who belong to some (perceived) minority don’t want the gov’t to have powers that go beyond “jail and a (hopefully) fair trial” – they’re more likely on the receiving end of such treatment.

    • It’s probably also that “white evangelicals” consider themselves in line with culture and society more than others…

      PG, you bring up an excellent point. And i agree it could be a huge part of the answer.

      even though they fear that’s about to change, and try prevent any change..

      Yes, good point.

      You know though, if this is true, which like you im beginning to consider too, i wonder what else that says about white evangelicals–or at least the ones who support torture?

      Its possible it says a lot about things [prejudices] in their hearts which have been long hidden.

    • PG and PJ,

      I’m surprised we haven’t made the Michael Jackson song from the 80s a hymn yet, “We are the world…”

  3. While I can sympathize with the moral dilemma torture presents to the believer, it must be considered within the civil/government/military/national security category it resides.

    At some point the operations of our government will challenge the moral principles of the kingdom. Since we have discussed the concept of America being a neo-theocracy & the misguided efforts of those trying to mix politics+religion, we must also realize the use of lethal force in law enforcement & the military will violate the pacifist stance of some sincere believers, yet, a purely pacifist stance will end up compromising our sense of law & order & national security. I can appreciate the tension between civil/military actions & the associated abuses that do happen, but I do not think that sterilizing all perceived abuses with a Christian non-aggression astringent the answer.

    Take capital punishment. Or lethal force used in law enforcement. Gun control? Abortion? Euthanasia? Welfare? Universal Health Care? At some point a line of tension will be drawn between the civil/secular operations of local/state/national government & the strongly held convictions of its Christian citizens. Where we can we should be salt+light to the establishing of civil codes, laws & affecting the conscience of our country. Yet we also know it cannot be the utopian neo-theocracy championed by those that come at it from differing perspectives. Where do we draw that line? Can it be accomplished to the satisfaction of everyone, both unbeliever & saint alike? And who makes that call?

  4. Ricardo, what is of greater concern to you, The Church or the State? I oppose torture in all its forms be it one perpetrated to the unborn in the womb or one perpetrated on the most rabid terrorist. Dehumanizing someone will end up robbing the perpetrators of their supposed “higher set of ethics”

    Christ followers should keep this truth in view when we are passionatley supporting the state.

    Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36

  5. It…isn’t…even…torture. Interesting idea that it isn’t REALLY torture because it’s just in the mind…you just don’t seem to understand that the MOST effective torture is one that targets the mind. That is where most people are the most vulnerable. Just like in everyday life, physical abuse is bad but mental abuse often leaves harsher and longer lasting scars. The human mind can be a very fragile thing.

    Waterboarding doesn’t actually put a person in danger of drowning, it just makes them feel like they are…somehow, I don’t find that idea all that comforting.

    You say that maybe “white” Christians support “torture” more than other Americans because they have a higher set of ethics? Wow, I never thought I would see the words “ethics” and “torture” in the same sentence but I guess there’s a first for everything. So, only an “ethical” person would support “torture”? I never knew that Hitler, Stalin and numerous other tyrants were ethical…it’s true that “ethical” and “evil” do start with the letter “e” but I never realized that they were synonyms. Whoda thunk it?

    I think the key point is WHO is a terrorist? Well, that classification is made by government. Whew, that’s good because we all know that a government would NEVER perpetuate an evil action. Oh wait, the Nazis and the Communists were “the government” at one time in their respective countries. Oh my, now I’m confused…or am I?

    I would think that Christians, more than almost any group, would be against setting the precedent for allowing torture. Primarily because they SHOULD think that it’s morally reprehensible but also because it’s not inconceivable to see that we will someday be listed as “terrorists” ourselves. When that day comes, and I have no doubt that it will, I doubt that I will take much solace in the fact that my “torture” isn’t REALLY torture because it’s JUST targeting my mind. However, I WILL take solace in the fact that I NEVER supported torture thus allowing me to take the higher moral ground.

    Why is that important? Because, to me, that will allow me to combat the mental torture that is being inflicted on me…to some degree. I am just thankful that when that time comes, I know that God will give me the strength to handle what I’m going through.

    Someday I will be standing…well, actually kneeling I imagine…before Jesus and I do NOT want to have to explain my support of torture, I somehow doubt that my explanation that it wasn’t REALLY torture would hold much water. Even if I put ” on either side of the word.

    I’m not necessarily a fan of looking at things as always being black and white but…any country that stoops to torture is NO better than the people they are torturing. The excuse that it might save American’s lives is…hogwash. If scientific research someday comes out with “proof” that aborted fetuses can be used to create a medicine that cures cancer and I have cancer, I would absolutely refuse to use that medicine…I would rather die first.

    You might think that is a stupid analogy…and it probably is…but I feel that strongly about torture. A person is influenced by their upbringing and I was in the Army from age 22-29 and, therefore, my outlook on matters is greatly influenced by those times. It is imbedded in my psyche that one NEVER stoops to the level of a barbarian or they will become a barbarian themselves.

    I guess I have no real problem if a Christian somehow thinks torturing anyone is “morally” right…it just saddens and sickens me, but that’s just me.

  6. How many white evangelicals support the full use of our military might to defend the Country? This naturally includes the use of our nuclear arsenal, and trust me, the effects of a Nuclear winter and the famine, fallout burns and torment far exceeds the practice of waterboarding. I think most Americans would say that America should, and has the right to defend herself.

    Every special forces soldier in America is trained and waterboarded before he enters into service; some several times. David “put the line” on captive armies, assassinating 2/3 of “enemy combatants”. Which is more grievous?

    As a Marine in combat in Viet Nam, [unsaved] I waterboarded two VC unto death. They did not talk. I was deeply ashamed of this cowardly act I committed..[with help]. I do not condone torture, however, if 9-11 could have been prevented by waterboarding the would be assassins beforehand….and consider if the babies and loved ones in the twin towers were yours….guess my answer.

    Primarily I am a citizen and ambassador of Heaven first; not America, and my compassion for the lost and the wicked transcends to the Islamic murderer also…and in the end the American and the Iranian are equal in my sight, as are my mercies and agape love that I possess.

    The Bible speaks of an end time war where 1/3 of all mankind will be killed. That will be around 3 billion souls dead, half being babies, children, and teenagers. That is 10 America’s…encompassing 10 of every living soul within our borders. 3,000,000,000.

    Rev:13 vs.10

    “He who leads into captivity shall go into captivity….he who kills with the sword, MUST BE KILLED WITH THE SWORD!..”

    “Here is the patience and the FAITH of the SAINTS!”

    I could not torture another, for any reason today. I think I would rather die, for I know it would be sin for me, as I know I could never pick up a rifle to defend myself…This is my faith , and my patience. God give me strength.

  7. The question to answer is about our God.

    Does our Lord teach us that the ends justify the means?

    Abraham lied about being Sarah’s brother to protect himself. Did God condone Abraham’s means? Is sin done by man ever considered by God to be justifiable means to an end? Is it? Why did Christ instruct us to turn the other cheek? Why are we to pray for those who spitefully use us?

    There is a difference between a man taking upon himself any means he wishes to achieve an end and God, the Almighty, the Lord and Judge of all, decreeing a violent judgement to be carried out by some men on other men God has judged.

    If God told Isreal to slaughter every man, woman, child, and animal, it was not the decision of mere men, but the judgement of God. Had God not instructed them to do this, it would have been sin, for we do not own the lives of others. God does and can judge them by whatever means seems good to Him whenever He chooses.

    We confuse americana, the Constitution, and such with God’s Word. Only God is sovereign and just to do whatsoever He pleases with His creation at any time, for good or for evil to it.

    And while we are subject to our earthly rulers and indeed, commanded to offer them obedience and no unnecessary offense, when faced of with the choice if it is better to obey men rather than God, we know we should obey God.

    Remember, martyrs were usually officially tortured and killed as enemies of the state. Think on that, christians, when you consider what is acceptable to applaud in your government. If the ends justified the means, why didn’t King David kill King Saul when he twice had him at his mercy?

    It’s definitely a lot to prayerfully and biblically consider.

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