Saturday, May 2, 2009

Christians love them some torture!


Recent survey reveals the more often you attend church, the more you love inhumane treatment of your “neighbor”

by Larry Simons
May 2, 2009

A recent study was conducted from April 14-21, 2009 by The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life to see where certain religious groups stood on the issue of the use of torture on suspected terror suspects.

This is how the question was worded: “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?”



Here’s what the study revealed:

Among white evangelical Protestants, 52% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 47% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Among white non-Hispanic Catholics, 51% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 47% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Among white mainline Protestants, 46% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 53% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Among unaffiliated churchgoers, 40% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 55% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Here’s where it gets interesting. When we look at frequency of attendance, those in support of torture increase significantly.

Among those who attend religious services at least weekly, 54% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 44% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Among those who attend religious services monthly or a few times a year, 51% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 46% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

Among those who attend religious services seldom or never…are you ready for this?

42% agreed that torture can either be often justified or sometimes justified. 53% said that torture can rarely or never be justified.

So, the less often people go to church, or never go, the more inhumane they see torture on another human being. I found this fascinating but far from shocking. Religion creates something in people that is very unique. It creates a level of intolerance and hatred of other people who are not like they are for one reason only…..because they are not like they are.

I know this first hand. I lived with religious people in college. They will never admit it, but most religious people really do feel like they are better than others who are not religious. For some strange reason they think they know for a fact that are going to heaven, therefore God looks at them with favor, more favor than the town drunk sitting outside of the local bar.

This “I’m better than others” complex comes from the fact that many Christians actually believe they were selected by God to be “saved” or to be some “chosen one” to carry God’s message to the masses of people. Naturally, if one is “selected” by God, then God is most assuredly going to let them enter heaven before the one ‘not selected’, right? Of course, it’s simple math.

The Bible, as well as history is chock full of stories and examples of those who were not God’s “chosen” being annihilated from the face of the Earth. Christians know these stories. They love them. They love reading and learning about those who did not accept God being wiped away from existence by floods, incineration, drawn and quartered or stoning. The entire Old Testament is a cavalcade of death and destruction of those who did not accept God.

Death and inhumanity to those who do not turn to God is the message of the entire Old Testament, and you could even argue the entire Bible. These stories and lessons sink in after a while in the heads of the religious. Christians cannot get enough death, destruction and inhumane treatment by the hand of God as they sit inside their holy indoctrination centers every week. Maybe this is why most of them love war. Any war. Even unjust, illegal ones.

So, naturally, when religious people hear stories on TV about terror suspects being tortured or treated in inhumane ways, they don’t think to themselves “this is a human being”. They are thinking, “this prick doesn’t think like I do, so I hope they fry his nut sack with jumper cables”.

Despite Jesus teaching quite often that his followers are supposed to love their enemies and turn the other cheek, this doesn’t seem to apply to the terror suspect in the mind of the religious person. Now, am I saying that a terror suspect should be let go because the Bible says to love our enemies? Of course not, but I also hold the view that in dealing with a terror suspect, the Bible should not be the instruction manual used. This is the very reason the founding fathers wanted political and religious matters separated from each other.

We are to follow the policies we have in place for such purposes. The Constitution, the Geneva Conventions….whatever the policy that was created to handle such matters, we are to follow. The Geneva Conventions clearly state that we are not to torture, and that is really the only guideline we have in dealing with detained suspects. The Bible is irrelevant in these matters. It should not be used in political policies, nor should a political policy be based on the Bible per se.

Political policies should be based on basic humane practices. If a humane practice coincides with a biblical teaching, so be it, but the policy is not to be established because it is mentioned in scripture, but because it is humane. Unfortunately, most religious people do not have this mindset. If it was up to them, they would have the Bible forced upon us all and have it be established as the national religion.

Most Christians still today think politicians/presidents should make decisions based on the Biblical views rather than upholding the Constitution, despite oaths being taken to defend it. It is a truly dangerous thing when people intermix religion and politics. The founding fathers knew the difference between adhering to a higher power (although most of them were not Christians) and running a country.

Unfortunately, many religious people today still believe the myth that the founding fathers were Christians. This is why they often intertwine being religious with nationalism. To them, if you’re religious, you’re a true patriot, and vise versa. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The irony, with the whole torture issue, when it comes to religious people is, their founder, Jesus Christ, was tortured, yet they advocate it for other human beings. A Christian’s argument would be: Jesus was sinless and didn't deserve the torture he received. On the other hand, a terror suspect killed people or plotted a terrorist attack, so they deserve to be tortured.

How ironic that the Bible says that even from the cross Jesus forgave the very people who beat him nearly to death and nailed him to a cross, but yet more church-attending Christians approve of terror suspects being tortured. The Bible makes it clear that followers of Jesus are supposed to strive to be Christ-like, yet in approving of torture, Christians are not being like Christ wanted them to be. Jesus forgave the very people who killed him, yet Christians cannot forgive terror suspects that are locked up thousands of miles away who didn't directly do anything to them.

Are they innocent? Well, in actuality, some have ended up being innocent and locked up for no reason while others have had links to terror. The point is, more churchgoing people approve of these people being tortured than people who rarely go or never go to church. That is incredibly disturbing. What does that say for the effectiveness of religion? My opinion is that religion is dangerous. I have even provided proof of this many times. We should not let terror suspects go free. They should be punished, but there is a big difference between justice and barbaric behavior. The terrorists are barbaric. We are not supposed to be like them.

The United States has laws. Are we to be reduced to terrorist-like behavior, or are we supposed to be setting the example? How is it that I (the agnostic) understand this, but the regular churchgoer fails to? I will tell you why. Because I have not let religion destroy my fundamental belief that human beings deserve to be treated in a humane manner. Religion begets fear, prejudice, hatred, inhumanity and even killing.

Do most people in society avoid a criminal act or assaulting/killing people because the Bible says not to? I would like to think the next time I’m walking down a street at night alone, the dark shadowy figure doesn’t kill me because it’s the humane thing to do, not because his Bible told him not to.

Why don’t Christians hold the same view on torture? We don’t torture because it’s not humane, no matter who it is.

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