Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Thistlethwaite: "Why the Faithful Approve of Torture"

I am part of a Meeting that supports and participates in the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT). We have a banner in front of our Meetinghouse supporting the end of torture, as part of their Banners Across America campaign; and when I'm out and about in Seattle, I see similar banners on other congregations' and religious organizations' buildings.

And yet, a new survey by the Pew Research Center shows some disturbing trends in the connection between religion and support for torture.

Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite has an interesting article in the Washington Post on "Why the Faithful Support Torture":

The more often you go to church, the more you approve of torture. This is a troubling finding of a new survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. Shouldn't it be the opposite? After all, who would Jesus torture? Since Jesus wouldn't even let Peter use a sword and defend him from arrest, it would seem that those who follow Jesus would strenuously oppose the violence of torture. But, not so in America today.

I recommend it.

(Thanks, Grant, for pointing this article out.)


leftistquaker said...

Stasa, as much as I respect Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, she is displaying a fairly typical liberal prejudice against Evangelicals. Speaking as a former Pentecostal who once literally believed in substitutionary atonement, there is no basis for seeing in the torture of Jesus, even as depicted in Gibson's "The Passion," as supportive of torture.

Look at the numbers, over 42% of non-Evangelicals support torture. They don't have some religious support for their belief, but it translates into millions. The propensity to support torture is endemic to the USA's culture of violence going back to our practice of slavery and expelling native peoples from the land. It may find religious justification, but even after that justification is no longer present, many still support torture without it.

I am writing to defend my former co-religionists from careless prejudice. Thistlethwaite needs to meet a few progressive evangelicals and ask them her question before lobbing inflammatory accusations at a millenia-old faith stance.

Anonymous said...

On the one hand, I agree with leftistquaker's statement that there is no basis for thinking that belief in substitutionary atonement is grounds for support of torture. I believe that Dr. Thistlethwaite's theological biases are showing here.

On the other hand, I am appalled that there is so much support of torture among those who are involved with religion. This is worthy of widespread discussion. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.


staśa said...

Thank you both for furthering the discussion here. I appreciate it!