Friday, September 29, 2006

Christian Americans more pro-torture than secular Amercians

Bwahwahwahah. American Christians are so full of it. OK, I should say a lot of them are full of it. They claim they're all moral, but according to this poll from a year ago they are more likely to think that it's OK to torture suspected terrorists than secular people are:
(HT: Slacktivist, a Christian whose writing and thinking I respect immensely, and who is rightly disturbed by this poll.) Note that the poll asked about suspected terrorists. Not known terrorists or convicted terrorists, but suspected terrorists. Is it OK to torture them? I'd say hell, no. But apparently a lot of people disagree. And the Christians are more pro-torture than the seculars.

Given what happened to the leader of their weird cult, you'd think Christians would endorse torture as a rate significantly less than us secular folk. But no. You'd think that all that time spent contemplating the suffering of some guy getting nailed to pole two thousand years ago would drive home the evil of torture. But I guess not. Maybe it just fills people with a sense of self-righteousness or a desire for revenge.

As much as I disparage the monotheistic religions, my suspicion is that Christianity is not the causative variable here. I suspect that conservatism or authoritarianism are closer to the root of the issue. And in America these traits have a positive correlation with Christianity. Or maybe secular people tend to be wealthy and more educated, and that's what makes them more anti-torture. Of course, I'm just talking out of my ass here. I'd be interested in seeing more data on this.

But the poll does raise the question: What's the point of Christianity if it doesn't make you a better person? Or do Christians somehow come to believe that torture is good? Of course, I know that for many Christians it's not about being good, it's about being saved. But this poll does seem to undercut the moral argument for religion. Chrisianity doesn't seem to work: it may make you feel good, but it doens't seem to have much effect on your moral behavior. Of course, you might think that torturing suspected terrorists is somehow moral. But I don't think you can make the argument that it is Christian, if Christianity has anything to do with the morality Jesus preached in the Gospels. (Yes, I know there are dispensationalists who think that stuff doesn't apply, but if we can't take a text to mean what it says, how can we define anything at all?)

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