April 30th, 2009
03:27 PM ET

Churchgoers more likely to back torture, survey finds

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

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 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 6 in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only 4 in 10 of them did.

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.

Take a look at the full survey and report here.

Filed under: Religion • Torture
soundoff (7 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Christians as a whole looked the other way during WW2 when Hitler was committing his mass murders of innocent people so I guess it is no surprise to see the same group approving of torture. Perhaps the sample only included those "Christians" who park their religion at the door every day except Sunday, but regardless its a sorry state when those who claim to be religious are for something so inhumane.

    April 30, 2009 at 8:21 pm |
  2. Stacy

    Who would Jesus torture?

    April 30, 2009 at 7:46 pm |
  3. Paul

    Like Dorcas said, this sample size is pretty small so it's hardly enough in my opinion to make a blanket statement. But, it still raises the question, "What is wrong with this picture!?" Christians should be on the forefront of speaking against torture!

    April 30, 2009 at 7:31 pm |
  4. abc ~ anything but california hugh

    This analysis only proves the argument others like myself have been making for centuries, which is that practicing religious conservativism creates an atmosphere for intolerance, anger and hatred. I’m sure there are many devoted religious people who are geniunely kind good examples to admire, but I believe they would be in the minority. It doesn’t matter if you're Christian, Muslim, or Jewish, it can happen in any religion that promotes a restrictive belief system that cannot tolerate ideas contrary to theirs. The extreme result of intolerance is religious fanaticism.

    “The reason religious fanatics cannot demonstrate love is because their souls are filled with anger, which is bent on revenge.” –my quote for the day

    April 30, 2009 at 6:29 pm |
  5. RoseParvin

    We must adhere to 21st century solutions like Rose Parvin's Universal Laws of Human Rights & Success & Spiritual Excellence to be enforced by UN toward a more civilized world and country instead of following terrorists and their ways of maintaining control!? What would be our difference if we did resort to such means to keep power?

    April 30, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  6. Rick

    Can't comment on the validity of this claim but research will certainly show that Church goers are indeed more likely to give to charity and volunteer their personal time to causes good for humankind. Check out the origins of many great humanitarian institutions world-wide – especially in developing nations. Hospitals, schools, orphanages, care for outcastes, disabled, minorities, refugees, women – so may have been started by "churchgoers". Let's tell both sides of the story – if indeed their are 2 sides.

    April 30, 2009 at 5:53 pm |
  7. Dorcas

    The findings of this survey should not be extrapolated to christians or churchgoers in general. The small sample size makes these findings skewed. That said, the good Book asks that we should love mercy, act justly and show humility. It is mind-bugling that an individual regarding themselves as a "churchgoer" would support torture in any shape or form. I am a christian and love being one. However, I am old enough to recall the influence the church had in enhancing apartheid in South Africa.

    April 30, 2009 at 3:36 pm |