Pew poll: Support for torture highest among most devoutly religious

Feast your eyes. Wonders Rod Dreher, “What on earth are these Christians hearing at church?!” No doubt Hitch would snicker and mumble something sardonic about the Inquisition, but I think the results probably indicate political correlation more so than religious influence. Evangelicals are more likely to be conservative and conservatives are more likely to support coercive interrogation, ergo evangelicals are more likely to support coercive interrogation; atheists are more likely to be liberal and therefore less likely to support it. In other words, the more interesting question may be not whether the Bible’s driving Christians to torture but why Christians are ignoring the Bible when thinking politically about this issue.

Or are they? Here’s what the Church’s Catechism says about torture:

2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity.

Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.[90]

2298 In times past, cruel practices were commonly used by legitimate governments to maintain law and order, often without protest from the Pastors of the Church, who themselves adopted in their own tribunals the prescriptions of Roman law concerning torture. Regrettable as these facts are, the Church always taught the duty of clemency and mercy. She forbade clerics to shed blood. In recent times it has become evident that these cruel practices were neither necessary for public order, nor in conformity with the legitimate rights of the human person. On the contrary, these practices led to ones even more degrading. It is necessary to work for their abolition. We must pray for the victims and their tormentors.

Strictly speaking, torturing someone to gain intelligence isn’t “extracting a confession.” It’s being done to stop an attack, which is about as pro-life as you can get. On the other hand, it’s hard to argue that you’re turning the other cheek in such circumstances. Your exit question: Is torture “un-Christian”?

Update: Another un-Christian result: Catholics support Notre Dame’s invitation to Obama, 50/28.