Several bloggers have commented on the recent Pew Survey on whether or not different religious groups support torture. Interestingly, the question they asked was unequivocal – there were no euphemisms such as “enhanced interrogation” or yes it is / no it isn’t terms like “waterboarding”. The question was unequivocally about torture:
Do you think the use of torture against suspected terrorists in order to gain important information can often be justified, sometimes be justified, rarely be justified, or never be justified?
The results by religious grouping below clearly shows that the more Christian you are, the more likely you are to think that torture was justified:
I’m not sure how statistically significant these results are. The numbers questioned in the attend religious services “weekly”, “monthly…” and “seldom or never” were 336, 225 and 168 respectively. That seems a little low to be used for drawing too many conclusions, although I could be wrong. If anyone has the statistical know-how to crunch the numbers and calculate statistical significance I’d be very interested. Also, the number supporting torture in the less religious groups is still fairly high in my view. Torture was justified at least “sometimes” by around 40% of the “unaffiliated” and “attend religious services seldom or never” groups. That compares with 54% to 62% of the religious groups.
Even so, significant or not, these results hardly support the view that religion (specifically Christianity) provides a moral compass, or that reading the Bible or going to church is necessary for one to be moral or good. And, really, should this surprise anyone? Consider what the “good book”, aka The Word Of God has to say about the use of torture. Just a few snippets:
If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property. Exodus 21:20-21
Oh yeah, you say, but that was just for slaves. Slaves are property, right? But it wasn't just slaves. Look what David did (with God’s approval) to all the inhabitants of several cities:
And he brought forth the people that were therein, and put them under saws, and under harrows of iron, and under axes of iron, and made them pass through the brick-kiln: and thus did he unto all the cities of the children of Ammon. 2 Samuel 12:31
Hum, saws, harrows, axes, the brick-kiln - well at least they didn't waterboard.
Jesus approved of the practice:
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Luke 12:46-48
Oh that Jesus - such a barrel of fun. But then, he got it from his dad:
And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. Revelation 9:5-6
Much more at the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible’s What the Bible says about Torture page.
This survey really shouldn’t surprise anyone. The Bible, Christianity, religion are not necessary for one to be moral or good.