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Faith and Torture

 
 
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 12:39 pm
I don't quite know what to make of this, so I thought I'd throw it out for discussion.

Survey: Support for terror suspect torture differs among the faithful

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

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

It's a small sample so maybe it doesn't mean anything, but the only reason I can see that evangelicals could be more likely to support torture is if it is purely political. In other words, evangelicals trend Republican, Republicans support it because it was a Republican government that did it, so evangelicals support it. So maybe faith doesn't come into it at all. Of course, then there's the fact that non-church goers support torture the least of anybody. Certainly throws a wrench in things.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 13 • Views: 3,657 • Replies: 53
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Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 12:52 pm
@FreeDuck,
In general I am skeptical of surveys. You need to see the source, sampling, etc. of a survey. Many surveys are biased. Who did the survey? Was it a good that would have a vested interest in the survey results to be one way or another? Is the sample good - did it cover a large enough group and diverse (is it just local) enough to be representative of the larger group?

As you said, this was a small sample - was it taken in the Bible belt only for instance - I am sure you would get a different result if did the same sampling in CA than in Alabama. What is the error %? All surveys usually state the potential error % - if it is 12% then it kind of nulls the difference.

On the other hand, I also find surveys interesting - part of the reason I like to dissect the samplings. Sometimes you get really interesting results and brings up great debates/thinking. And also like you mention - what causes certain people to think a certain way - is it the political aspect or something much more sinster.

One thing in this vain of thinking I always thought interesting is the Pro life/Pro choice debate - the fact that quite frequently some one that is Pro life when it comes to abortion will support the death penalty and some one Pro choice will not support the death penalty. Seems a contradiction to me.
boomerang
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 12:55 pm
Well.... God's on their side and we know how God lets people starve to death and stuff so torture must be okay with God.
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:21 pm
@Linkat,
The survey was done by Pew Research, so I don't think they have a vested interest in the result. But yeah, no idea about the nitty gritty of the poll.

But to what boomerang said, I am fascinated by the mental gymnastics required to rationalize support for torture with faith in Jesus, unless you're a supporter of the Spanish Inquisition.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:28 pm
Oh my name it is nothin'
My age it means less
The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
I's taught and brought up there
The laws to abide
And that land that I live in
Has God on its side.

Oh the history books tell it
They tell it so well
The cavalries charged
The Indians fell
The cavalries charged
The Indians died
Oh the country was young
With God on its side.

Oh the Spanish-American
War had its day
And the Civil War too
Was soon laid away
And the names of the heroes
I's made to memorize
With guns in their hands
And God on their side.

Oh the First World War, boys
It closed out its fate
The reason for fighting
I never got straight
But I learned to accept it
Accept it with pride
For you don't count the dead
When God's on your side.

When the Second World War
Came to an end
We forgave the Germans
And we were friends
Though they murdered six million
In the ovens they fried
The Germans now too
Have God on their side.

I've learned to hate Russians
All through my whole life
If another war starts
It's them we must fight
To hate them and fear them
To run and to hide
And accept it all bravely
With God on my side.

But now we got weapons
Of the chemical dust
If fire them we're forced to
Then fire them we must
One push of the button
And a shot the world wide
And you never ask questions
When God's on your side.

In a many dark hour
I've been thinkin' about this
That Jesus Christ
Was betrayed by a kiss
But I can't think for you
You'll have to decide
Whether Judas Iscariot
Had God on his side.

So now as I'm leavin'
I'm weary as Hell
The confusion I'm feelin'
Ain't no tongue can tell
The words fill my head
And fall to the floor
If God's on our side
He'll stop the next war.
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:29 pm
@Setanta,
just thinking of posting that meself
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:29 pm
That instantly came to mind . . . i could hear the little **** singin' it . . .
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:59 pm
@FreeDuck,
Although I'm a card-carrying atheist, I think this is mostly a case of statisticians not controlling for confounding variables. In this case, the confounding variable is conservative vs. liberal political persuasions. Churchgoers are more likely than heathens to be conservative generally, and conservatism in general increases support for Bush's torture policies in particular. I doubt there is a direct influence of church-going on support for torture, and won't stop doubting until presented with a multiple regression on the data.
old europe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 01:59 pm
The use of torture against terrorists...


attend religious services at least weekly

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p&chd=t:16,38,19,25,2&chs=570x150&chl=16%%20-%20can%20often%20be%20justified|38%%20-%20can%20sometimes%20be%20justified|can%20rarely%20be%20justified%20-%2019%|can%20never%20be%20justified%20-%2025%|don%27t%20know/refused%20-%202%&chp=4.71


attend religious services monthly or a few times a year

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p&chd=t:18,33,23,23,3&chs=570x150&chl=18%%20-%20can%20often%20be%20justified|33%%20-%20can%20sometimes%20be%20justified|can%20rarely%20be%20justified%20-%2023%|can%20never%20be%20justified%20-%2023%|don%27t%20know/refused%20-%203%&chp=4.71


attend religious services seldom or never

http://chart.apis.google.com/chart?cht=p&chd=t:12,30,27,26,5&chs=570x150&chl=12%%20-%20can%20often%20be%20justified|30%%20-%20can%20sometimes%20be%20justified|can%20rarely%20be%20justified%20-%2027%|can%20never%20be%20justified%20-%2026%|don%27t%20know/refused%20-%205%&chp=4.71


(numbers from pewresearch.org)
0 Replies
 
Linkat
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:01 pm
@FreeDuck,
The one thing I would think - which would be along the lines of the Pro Life and pro death penalty is the innocence/guilty thought process. If a person is considered guilty they do not deserve the same as an innocent life. And/or the self defense thoughts - for example if torturing a known terrorist could result in getting information that could save thousands of innocent lives then the torture is justified.

I know in philosphy class - we discussed various thought process and the guilty thing (I forget the actual philosphy name for it) is one justified support for killing.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:06 pm
@Thomas,
All that said, the Abrahamic God is obviously a friend of torture. Consider his callous mock-execution of the innocent child Isaac, for the sole purpose of making a point to his father Abraham. Federal law classifies mock-executions as torture. If God had pulled this off on Isaac as an American soldier in Iraq, the US code would have sent Him to jail for about a decade. Needless to say, I agree with the ethics embedded in federal law here, and am appalled by the lack of ethics displayed by Yahwe in this case.
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:07 pm
@Thomas,
That's my assumption, too, Thomas. Though I am still interested in how someone reconciles their politics with their faith in these cases. I'd love to ask certain evangelical members of my family where they stand on the issue but I'm almost afraid to find out.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:12 pm
I've always reacted to the Abraham-Isaac thing by how we would react to that goofball today. Here he is, with a knife to his son's throat, and says that God told him to do it. He'd very quickly get a free, one-way ride to the rubber room. Which would be entirely appropriate.

How about old Lot, who allegedly slept through his depraved daughters having sex with him. I brought that up at Abuzz once, and a rabbi came along to justify it by saying the girls were doing the right thing, by assuring that his "line" did not die out. Swear to God . . . that's what he said . . .
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:42 pm
@Setanta,
Setanta wrote:
How about old Lot, who allegedly slept through his depraved daughters having sex with him.

Did the Rabbi say anything about Lot pimping his daughters, both virgins at the time for all he knew, to a rape mob outside his house? And how god saved him from destruction for that because he was so upstanding?
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:44 pm
i've always found that sitting through a church service was torture
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:47 pm
@FreeDuck,
FreeDuck wrote:
That's my assumption, too, Thomas. Though I am still interested in how someone reconciles their politics with their faith in these cases. I'd love to ask certain evangelical members of my family where they stand on the issue but I'm almost afraid to find out.

Been there, done that with my conservative friends in St.Louis. Their answer was: "Well, the president obviously knows stuff that we don't, because it's classified. Who are we to criticize him?"
0 Replies
 
DontTreadOnMe
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 02:49 pm
@FreeDuck,
FreeDuck wrote:

That's my assumption, too, Thomas. Though I am still interested in how someone reconciles their politics with their faith in these cases. I'd love to ask certain evangelical members of my family where they stand on the issue but I'm almost afraid to find out.


from what i've read, the abrahamic god, "yahweh" was originally a war god. kinda explains a couple of things.

but in any case, christianity would seem to be one in a long line of religions, that are willing to do unto others things that they would really hate to have done unto them when they feel threatened. unfortunately, it also seems increasingly common for any variation from that religion's beliefs to qualify as a threat.

from that point of view, i really don't see a lot of difference between born again/evangelical christianity and fundamentalist islam. but when it comes to the to the manipulation and torture of others for personal gain, they look like lightweights next to the vatican.
0 Replies
 
Finn dAbuzz
 
  2  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 03:47 pm
When you consider that everyone who regularly attends church services is not necessarily among the faithful, and that those who claim to attend church regularly, in fact, may not, these poll results are not that remarkable.

There also seems to be an assumption being made by some that membership in the Christian Faithful requires a pacifist philosophy if that membership is not going to stand revealed as illigitimate or hypocritical. I'm not sure where that assumption comes from.

I am not a Christian and while I grew up with the Lutheran Church having influence on my youth, I certainly don't profess to being an expert on Christianity. It seems to me, though, that if a particular religious group is able to make a reasonable argument for why violence can be righteous (e.g. to save the lives of innocents), it hardly follows that their religion has been revealed as a sham.

Critics of Christians who happen to also be conservative, take great pleasure in trotting out what they believe to be an obvious contradiction: being against abortion, but for capital punishment. As Linkat has touched upon, there is an obvious component of innocence vs guilt in the perceived dychotomy that renders it anything but.

Similarly there never is a shortage of particpants in these threads who feel they are making some extraordinarily brilliant point by relaying Bible stories (primarily from the Old Testament) that reflect behaviors that are difficult to reconcile with current teachings.

I could understand if the purpose was to simply illustrate what pains some Christians and Jews endure to explain how the Bible can be inerrant, and their Faith not tolerate some of the noxious behaviors depicted in the text, but find that purpose of little signfigance.

Given certain philosophical or religious assumptions that can neither be proven or disproved, one can make a reasonable argument for conversion by the sword. That we may not share those assumptions doesn't make the internal logic of the belief system shatter. At the same time, that a particular belief system can maintain an internal logic doesn't require us to accept or tolerate it and its practices.

There seems to be this vast desire, among non-believers, to unconvert the converted. To disabuse them of their silly superstitions and hateful atavism, and bring them into a better place where rationalism reigns and all men can live in peace. It is not enough to simply reject their beliefs, and respond to those practices of theirs which might threaten to infringe on the rights of non-believers.

Sounds a lot like a conversion effort to me.





FreeDuck
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 04:58 pm
@Finn dAbuzz,
Finn dAbuzz wrote:

It seems to me, though, that if a particular religious group is able to make a reasonable argument for why violence can be righteous (e.g. to save the lives of innocents), it hardly follows that their religion has been revealed as a sham.

Unless that religion has a significant non-violence component. If a Bhudist were able to make a reasonable argument for righteous violence would that not imply a divergence from his professed beliefs? Similarly, if you are a professed believer of the teachings of Christ, who turned the other cheek during his own torture, yet can rationalize righteous torture, then something doesn't fit. You can't hold those two things in your brain (or heart) at the same time harmoniously.

Quote:
Given certain philosophical or religious assumptions that can neither be proven or disproved, one can make a reasonable argument for conversion by the sword. That we may not share those assumptions doesn't make the internal logic of the belief system shatter. At the same time, that a particular belief system can maintain an internal logic doesn't require us to accept or tolerate it and its practices.

I am at a loss as to what "internal logic" could possibly mean in this context. Is there, really, a reasonable argument for conversion by the sword? Really?

dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 May, 2009 08:05 pm
@FreeDuck,
Well, many of them appear to believe in a hideously vengeful god who happily consigns millions to horrendous torture in hell...so perhaps it's not a big shift for the hell lovers?

For more primitive christians, there's also a very exaggerated "the devil's" and "god's" thing (with them being god's, of course).

Presumably terrorists are the devil's?

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