Christians for torture

Andrew Sullivan posts on a disturbing poll indicating that U.S. Christians generally favor torturing suspected terrorists. Catholics, it turns out, are most hospitible to the idea:

Twenty-one percent of Catholics surveyed said it is often justified and 35 percent said it is sometimes justified. Another 16 percent said it is rarely justified, meaning that nearly three of four Catholics justify it under some circumstances. Four percent of Catholics didnt know or refused to answer and only 26 percent said it is never justified, which is the official teaching of the church.

What group is least supportive of torture? White Evangelicals? Nope. White Protestants? Wrong again. Those who self-identify as secular are most opposed to using torture against suspected terrorists. Just 10 percent of secular respondents say torture is permissible "often," and 41 percent say "never." "In other words," as Andrew puts it, "if you are an American Christian, you are more likely to support torture than if you are an atheist or agnostic. Christians for torture: it's a new constituency. Another part of the Bush legacy."

How did this happen? U.S. Catholic bishops have been anything but silent on the issue. Thanks especially to work of Bishop John H. Ricard, several well-crafted statements are on the record. But something has gone haywire on the receiving end. This is a teaching moment that must be seized.

Grant Gallicho joined Commonweal as an intern and was an associate editor for the magazine until 2015. 

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