Thursday, April 30, 2009

Religion and Torture

I saw this headline while looking at CNN: "Survey: Churchgoers more likely to support torture."(yes, put aside the definite problems in their survey methodology and all that). I was confused for a second. "What? Really? But... I'm a churchgoer and I'm adamantly opposed to torture..." Then I thought that maybe the media was biased against Christians. Then I wondered whether this would be yet another item used to condemn the church. "If Christians can support physically torturing another human being even though torture doesn't yield anything helpful and is an attack on humanity itself..." 

Seriously, I cannot even pretend to comprehend why someone would support torture, especially Christians. People who believe and preach the love of God and God's amazing merciful grace for us all should be the last, the very last to ever support such acts. Our Lord was nailed to a cross; God was basically tortured to death. Martyrs throughout the centuries have been tortured and/or executed for the faith. 

The argument that torture could ever lead to useful information fails to understand what torture really does. If you were tortured, you would either tell the person whatever they wanted to hear or defy them. The emphasis is on "whatever they wanted to hear." You'd possibly confess to any crime they accused you of, you would denounce innocent people just so they'd stop hurting you. How is that going to help us pursue justice? How will that bring the guilty to trial? It doesn't. It only helps America's enemies by giving them moral ammunition against us. America is too great to lose its soul by torturing. 

Reading this article made me worry about the Church's reputation. Yes, the Church should be concerned about how she is perceived. The Gospel is preached by sinners, yes, but redeemed sinners who must show God's grace in their words and lives. 

But look at the bottom of the article. Mainline Protestants were listed as boasting the highest percentage of people who would say torture was never justified. And, get this: they defined what a "Mainline Protestant" was. "Such as Episcopalians, Lutherans and Presbyterians." 

Huh. We got a ways to go until Christians in general are the group most likely to oppose torture, but it's a start. 

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