The other day, some disturbing information came to my attention. The Pew Forum, an organization that studies the relationship between religion and public policy, conducted a study that examined individuals' comfort level with torture vs. the regularity with which they attend church, and the type of church they attend. While not particularly surprising, the results are unsettling, to say the least:
What this poll makes clear to me is that evangelical Protestants, who are the most likely group to believe that torture can sometimes or often be justified, are not as Bible-savvy as they might think. I cannot for the life of me, however, figure out why 19% of Catholics think that torture "can often be justified." Here is a religion that, for all its flaws, prides itself on education (both spiritual and otherwise). We were never taught anything in Catholic school that would lead us to believe that torture was ever OK. I'd imagine the kids in Sunday school were taught similar things. Where, then, does this rationale come from? I can only conclude that this whole thing has more to do with party alliance than religion (though the two are inextricably and disturbingly linked).
This is not the way we are supposed to treat one another. There is nothing in the New Testament that justifies torture of anyone. In fact, Jesus speaks pretty plainly about the ways we should behave not just to our friends, but to our enemies, in his sermon on the mount.
Matthew 5:38-39 says:
You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.Matthew 5:43-48 says:
"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.We are called, not just as Christians, but as human beings, to treat each other in a dignified and loving way. It's not always easy, and it doesn't always happen, but it's very important for us to try. And as for torture, it should be a no-brainer. A "Christian Nation", as the crazies like to call it, would not engage in such an act. I think it's pretty clear WTF Jesus would do.
UPDATE: My friend Dave made me this:
It's a priest waterboarding a prisoner! Yay!