Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Torturing Christ

I recommend reading Glenn Greenwald's posts on Salon daily, but if you don't have time (they're longish), at least go read this one. He highlights the bizarre hatred of Muslims from right-wing commentators and rips apart its illogic.

But I want to pose a question based on info he focuses on. According to a 2005 Pew poll, a majority of Catholics and almost a majority of white protestants and evangelicals support torture of suspected terrorists. (Please note: the poll question used the words "torture" and "suspected," so there's no hedging about "enhanced interrogation techniques" or 24 scenarios with Jack Bauer.) Here's part of Greenwald's take (I'm using asterisks instead of quotation marks):

***Note that majorities of white Christians want to torture not merely actual terrorists, but they also want to torture "terrorist suspects" as well, i.e., a group that almost certainly includes perfectly innocent people.

And majorities of white Christians -- Catholics, evangelicals and protestants -- believe in torture not merely in the improbable-in-the-extreme "ticking time bomb" scenario; rather, they believe in torture as a matter of course (i.e., more than "rarely" -- either "often or "sometimes"). (By stark and revealing contrast, "secularists" oppose torture in far greater numbers). Think about how depraved that is: what kind of religious individual affirmatively believes that people should be routinely tortured, including people who have never been proven to have done anything wrong?***

I'd like to emphasize the phrases "perfectly innocent people" and "people who have never been proven to have done anything wrong." Isn't that the defining story of Christianity, that a perfectly innocent person is tortured so the rest of us are saved against our sins? I'm not arguing that Christianity necessarily leads to support of torture, but the connection is interesting (and one I'm sure others have noted before). The sacrifice of Christ, if you believe in the story, seems simultaneously distant and immediate--envisioning it is a purely imaginative act, but there's also The Passion of the Christ and innumerable paintings of Christ on the cross. I wonder if that simultaneous distance and immediacy is somehow related to the widespread approval of torture among Christians in that poll.

1 comment:

Inferus said...

Christianity is nothing more than a philosophy that endorses masochism. Man is perceived to be flawed, depraved, and irresponsible. Only through submission, pain, and suffering does one come to understand the will of one's master. Is it any wonder individuals who embrace Christianity believe so fully in the use of force and the necessity to overcompensate for their perceived weakeness by excessive displays of strength?