A new Faith in Public Life poll released on September 11 says that more than half of Southern Evangelicals believe torture is justified, but their views change when they are reminded of the Golden Rule.
A new poll released Thursday (Sept. 11) finds that nearly six in 10 white Southern evangelicals believe torture is justified, but their views can shift when they consider the Christian principle of the golden rule.
The poll, commissioned by Faith in Public Life and Mercer University, found that 57 percent of respondents said torture can be often or sometimes justified to gain important information from suspected terrorists. Thirty-eight percent said it was never or rarely justified.
But when asked if they agree that "the U.S. government should not use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers," the percentage who said torture was rarely or never justified rose to 52 percent.
"Presenting people with this argument and identifying with the golden rule really does engage a different part of people's psyche and a part of their heart, their soul, and really does shift their views on torture," said Robert Jones, president of Public Religion Research, which was commissioned to conduct the poll.
The findings of this poll, which did not define torture, compared to a Pew Research Center poll from February that found that 48 percent of the general public think torture can be justified.
The new poll found that 44 percent of white Southern evangelicals rely on life experiences and common sense to determine their views about torture. A lower percentage, 28 percent, said they relied on Christian teachings or beliefs.
Andrew Sullivan comments:
Southern evangelicals always cite Scripture when arguing that homosexuals should be jailed or sent to therapy or denied basic rights in their marriages. But on torture, they don't cite Scripture:The new poll found that 44 percent of white Southern vangelicals rely on life experiences and common sense to determine their views about torture. A lower percentage, 28 percent, said they relied on Christian teachings or beliefs.
Andrew Sullivan: The Daily Dish