In a ThinkProgress piece, Jack Jenkins reflects on the recent Washington Post/ABC poll that indicates Christians in America are more likely to support torture than the general public:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney and other former staffers from the George W. Bush White House took to the airwaves to try and defend the policies, but many such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) quickly labeled the CIA’s methods as torture, and thus inhumane. But as Sarah Posner reported over at Religion Dispatches, a recent Washington Post/ABC poll showed that the majority of Americans would not classify the CIA’s techniques as torture, and most — 59 percent — thought the agency’s treatment detainees was justified. Posner lamented this fact, but also noted another unsettling trend: Christians polled were actually more likely than the general public to support torture.
“Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement,” Posner writes. “Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not … 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.”
These numbers are appalling, theologically repugnant, and frankly confusing. Christianity is a tradition whose savior, Jesus Christ, was arrested, wrongfully accused, and tortured — things the gospel stories make clear were gross mistreatments. Christ was also crucified, a form of capital punishment that was specifically designed to torture right up until the moment of death, with many ancient victims suffering for hours or days before succumbing to dehydration, asphyxiation, or cardiac arrest, among other stomach-turning ends.