Faith & Social Justice: In the spirit of Richard Overton and the 17th C. Levellers

Survey: U.S. Churchgoers More Likely to Back Torture

This survey shows just how unbiblical and confused American Christians have become.  I am too sick and depressed at this news to comment much–not even in the comments; you’ll have to go to it yourselves.  But if you want to be a person of faith who REJECTS torture, who remembers that torture is an assault  on the image of God in humans and that Jesus Christ was tortured to death, consider joining the good folks at Evangelicals for Human Rights and/or the National Religious Campaign to Abolish Torture.  And if you are a clergyperson who rejects torture, PLEASE preach on this and make sure that those in your congregations know where you stand.


May 1, 2009 - Posted by | torture


  1. What are Christian morals about then? They’re confused and I’m confused.

    Comment by steph | May 2, 2009

  2. As an academic I consider this survey, at most a very poor PR exercise rather than credible research. The number of people interviewed (742) is far from representative of the US population (307.000.000) and hence its results cannot, under any circumstance, be generalised to the overall population. In simple terms it’s as banal as saying ‘we interviewed 2 individuals out of 5 million and the views of 2 accurately represent the views of 4,999 998 others’. Academically speaking such statement would have no validity. Further exploration of the methodology used also raises a number of other questions regarding the survey’s validity and reliability. I often consider the disfavour the media does to society by throwing stats at the population hoping they stick. This is rather disappointing work for mature non-tabloid news corporations.

    Comment by D. Davis | May 2, 2009

  3. […] other responses to this story, see Katie, Matt, Michael, and Bryan. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Resolution helper: GodA Majority of […]

    Pingback by Do church people like torture? « John Meunier’s Blog | May 2, 2009

  4. Michael,

    I follow Doug Groothuis’ blog “The Constructive Curmudgeon”. I don’t know if you are familiar with him but he teaches at the Denver Seminary and is very conservative, socially, politically, and religiously. Doug and I were friends in high school and there is a certain connection that endures. Recently, while you were writing about America’s use of torture, Doug was commenting on the “falsity and stupidity of Marxism”. I was really wondering where he stood on this issue of torture and thought his micro-rant about Marxism seemed poignantly disconnected from tough issues we are facing today. Well, today I found out what Dr. Groothuis (Christian apologist, author, and scholar) thinks about torture. See for yourself at:


    I bring this to your attention not to add to your dismay regarding the state of Christianity or the contemporary moral condition of Christians. I think Doug’s perspectives and opinions, while his own, are representative of a “Top Down” problem within Christianity.

    Doug converted to Christianity in 1976 and seems to have caught a groundswell which then developed into the wave which we call the “Religious Right”. Hopefully that wave is breaking, or broken, and is being supplanted by a kinder and gentler Christian. Thankfully, from my perspective, you managed to avoid participation in that movement and kept your sanity while those about you were loosing theirs. It might appear more attractive to belong to the “Moral Majority”, but if circumstances don’t allow that content yourself with a place in the moral minority. You’re cool with me.

    Comment by Steve Schuler | May 2, 2009

  5. religious right = moral majority? Yuck. I’ve read his blog before but stopped – he depressed me too much.

    Comment by steph | May 2, 2009

  6. Steve,
    I have never met Doug, but I used to engage him. Before there were blogs, there were internet email discussion lists and Doug & I both belonged to the discussion list of the Society of Christian Philosophers. On most subjects, we disagreed strongly, although he was an ally when it came to the equality of the sexes, if I recall correctly.

    We converted to Christianity about the same time, but I joined what was then the “evangelical-left” found in the Sojourners crowd, and the now-defunct The Other Side and even in Evangelicals for Social Action. But many involved in that movement grew more conservative (especially Ron Sider), especially over issues surrounding gay and lesbian Chritians, but also in church-state issues where my Baptist tradition of strict separation was called “secularist.” I have moved about 3 steps to the left, I think, in my theology–while many of peers moved very far right.

    The only thing to do is to actually start making theological and moral arguments against torture. We will have to win this debate. But I am deeply depressed that this even needs to be done. Not that long ago (8 years ago), this debate would have been unnecessary. There was ZERO debate over the morality of torture. The fact that there now is one, is a victory for the terrorists and for the fascists in the Bush administration. (I use the term “fascist” advisedly. I do not refer to the entire administration, but to Cheney and the members of the Project for a New American Century which is now reinventing itself under another name. They argued for state power to be joined to corporate power, which is how Mussolini himself defined fascism, and they specifically argued for the militarization of the nation and granting of extraordinary powers to the executive and to spy agencies. That’s fascism.)

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 3, 2009

  7. I’ve missed something. What is this “Project for the New American Century”? And what is Cheney up to? He’s dropped off the radar here, someone we’d rather forget I think until he gets tried for his crimes.

    Comment by steph | May 3, 2009

  8. The Project for a New American Century was a think-tank in the ’90s of those who came to be called “Neo-cons.” Its ranks included Cheney, Douglas Firth, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and many other who came to infect the Bush administration. They advocated an imperialist foreign policy. Their exposure as the architects of the Iraq war led to the use of neo–con as a swearword. So, they have regrouped.

    Cheney has not fallen off the radar here. Unlike Bush, he has not followed the usual ex-pres. and ex-VP pattern of not commenting on the new administration for at least its first year. In fact, he has given more interviews since leaving office than in his 8 years in office! Cheney is famous for his hatred of the media–yet now he wants to talk all the time. And, what he wants to talk about is how much the Bush foreign policies (including torture) “kept us safe” and how Obama is endangering us all.

    His interviews, however, are having a mixed effect. Cheney was less popular than Satan when he left office. So, he is not the best apologist for Bush policies. But he is being taken seriously by the 20% of the public who still consider themselves Republican. And, I worry that he will inspire fringe crazies to try something violent. I am amazed that Obama has lasted 100 days in office without an attempt at his life by a far right crazy. The history of racist violence in this country is strong and so is the history of political violence–although the last attempted assassination to make news was on Ronald Reagan’s life early in his presidency. (By some wack-job who noticed that “Ronald Wilson Reagan” each had 6 letters, thus, “666” and the dude concluded that he was the anti-Christ.)

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 3, 2009

  9. Thank you Michael. That’s frightening. He should be locked up in Gitmo for his crimes instead of preaching to and influencing gullible people.

    Comment by steph | May 3, 2009

  10. Cheney is not in good health. If he ever stands trial for his crimes, in federal or international court, I expect he’ll die of another heart attack before he sees a day in prison. He’s a type A personality who doesn’t handle stress well.

    Comment by Michael Westmoreland-White | May 3, 2009

  11. Michael,

    As you know, D.C. Cramer recently posed the question, “Am I taking crazy pills here?” in regards to a theological issue. I have had a similar reaction to this issue of the American government’s recent use of torture and the public and political responses to this fundamental moral problem. I saw a video clip recently of a Fox News commentator emotionally stating, “This is America, and we don’t f**king torture!!!”, in opposition to any rationale used to justify the use of “enhanced interogation techniques”. He, too, seemed to question whether some of us were under the influence of crazy pills.

    Yeah, it is pretty amazing, and even discouraging, that we are having this debate in 21st century America. We’ve come so far, but we’ve got so far to go…

    Comment by Steve Schuler | May 3, 2009

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