Morality and Religion–Not Exactly Connected

A Post/ABC survey taken after the release of the Senate’s torture report has generated results which–displayed in tabular format--have been making the rounds on social media.

The question was whether the torture tactics had been justified. Responses were broken down by religious affiliation; significant majorities of Protestants and Catholics said yes. Only among the “nones”–those claiming no religious affiliation–did a majority of respondents disavow torture.

Apparently, a lot of those pious “Christians” –the ones who whine about the (wholly manufactured) “War on Christmas,” who self-righteously refuse to pay for the “sinful” birth-control of their female employees, who insist on their right to impose their beliefs on others in a multitude of ways–see no conflict between their scripture and the torture of other human beings.

Shades of the Inquisition…

If this survey is accurate, it would seem to rebut the assumption that secular Americans cannot be moral, because they “lack God.” In fact, it raises an interesting question: what sort of God do these torture apologists worship?


  1. It’s amazing isn’t it? How can they justify torture of any kind? Maybe that’s why I’m not a Catholic anymore. I can’t justify torture for any human, even one that may have taken a family member of mine. Never. Ever.

  2. Torture, in any form, cannot be morally condoned. The violent, cruel, murderous, sexually oriented history of the Christian religion has been buried under what today is considered Biblical basis for laws that have removed our civil and human rights by the GOP. They are back in our beds again. The torture report which Cheney is still gung-ho supporting should have been released before now; the lies and cover ups did more to harm America’s trust in our government and lost trust and respect internationally in it’s secrecy.

    Years ago, I think in Life magazine, I read an article about the history of the Catholic religion and the lifestyles of Popes which was frightening as well as nauseating in it’s violence, thievery and sexual degradation of girls, women and young boys. This is covered up by the Vatican the same as the Mormon Church spending millions of dollars to purchase any and all negative documents regarding their history and are buried in the archives never to be seen by the public or members of the Mormon religion. Morality and Religion continues to be much more than “Not Exactly Connected.” Thanks for this post on today, Christmas Eve day; I find it appropriate as an old Christian and former Baptist.

  3. My reaction to the report was that it was a perfect frame around the activities of congress: Monday-morning quarterbacking to restore a profile with voters. It is the height of hypocrisy – congress outraged by something unethical or immoral. Congress should really focus on its own ethical and moral problems.

    Having said that, when the stories about waterboarding, etc. broke, my reaction was: that by engaging in those activities, the US ceded the moral high ground and became the Taliban. I don’t think there is a middle ground – our country of laws broke the law and simultaneously became just another terrorist outfit.

  4. Organized Religion has for the most part been hand and glove with the State. Ancient Egypt is a good example, the Pharaoh as a Living God. The Viking Warriors went to their version of Heaven called Valhalla. The Crusaders were sanctioned to kill. Religion will twist itself to accommodate the State.

    We know that in WW 1, and WW 2 both sides prayed to God for Victory. Churches in the Confederacy and Union prayed for victory. Our own Government in the USA has constantly invoked the power and protection of the deity. Organized Religion is a hierarchy of power and fits comfortably next to the State. The orders come from “above” the orders may come from Moses, Jesus, or Mohamed. Clerics, Priests, Ministers, and other “Holy People” determine and disseminate what Dogma will be followed.

    We have our Governor Pence, who styles himself as a pious Christian, but sees nothing wrong with State Sanctioned Executions. Thou shalt not Kill, does not carry a footnote for Governor Pence or Governor Perry giving them permission to execute people. So, I am not surprised that Religious People would be supportive of Torture.

  5. I’m convinced their approval of torture is indicative of their collective xenophobia, which they seem to wear as a badge proving their patriotism. They’re safe with the questions about torture to “those” people in the abstract. But ask them about a specific scenario and they cave like a kid caught in a lie. Ask them about torturing an unborn child. When hit with that one, their fight and flight defensive mode will make ya wanna run and hide.

  6. Moral, spiritual, religious. Which of these things is not like the others?

    We all certainly know those who wear all of them well and are better for it. But, in post modern America more and more membership in a religion is cultish and tribal. Evangelism in particular almost by its nature is centered on a leader who is not God but purports to speak with His authority.

    Where there are we’s there will also be they’s.

    History consists mostly of the story of progress or following. When people follow either a person or an idea trouble is not far behind. Why? Lord Acton told us. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Mass media is the seed from which cults grow. Hitler was perhaps an early pioneer in that.

    We who are the they’s to cults need to continuously ask ourselves are we cynical or skeptical in our relationship with them. Cynical often means that we have become they and merely represent a different cult. We’ve become extremists.

    Aah, but skeptical. Questioning. Critical thinking. Even intellectual. That’s the sweet spot from which progress emerges.

  7. I mean, does this actually shock anyone anymore? I hope all everyone realizes how much better Millennials are looking as each year passes.

  8. To those defending the practice of torture to protect the U.S.A. and to anyone who approves of doing whatever it takes, including torture, to save American lives, I had recently posed the following question:

    If there’s a chance that a pregnant mother would give up potentially important information which might lead to saving American lives, and torturing her unborn child for many hours might get that information, how many hours of torture to her unborn child would you deem acceptable and worth the information?

    In an attempt to bypass their collective allegiances, I designed the question specifically to reach into each of these pledged patriot’s core of decency. I didn’t get answers to the question, but for me even daring to ask the question, unfortunately, the attacks were predictably personal and hurled at me for suggesting that the emperor was wearing no clothes.

    Propose that question and then stand back and watch the explosions coupled with the implosions.

  9. Phil; if you want a quick direct answer to that question, send it on to Cheney. He would have a response filled with his version of moral indignity and the value of such torture. In fact; I would like to know if this was done by our government with the approval of Lone Cheney and his Tonto, “W”. Would anyone be surprised?

  10. Two, sadly too typical opinons these days, that I need to share. I posted a Happy Holidays on Facebook to all; those who follow other religions than Christianity, those who have no religion, Atheists, Solstice celebrators, etc. Stated that I was simply wishing everyone heartfelt good wishes. One responder named Jack Klompus stated, “I’m an anarchist and don’t believe in government.” I questioned if he thought government is a religion, he responded, “It is a religon.” No further comments from me. A few days ago my granddaughter who lives in Flat Rock, IN, sent me a thank you for the Christmas cards with gift cards. Told me her super Christian mail lady complained about my Harvey Milk stamps. This gave us both a huge laugh; I’m trying to think of something else I can mail to her with another Harvey Milk stamp. I do have an evil streak that makes an appearance even during the holiday season.

  11. In high school literature and government classes, we learned that the ends are not a blank check to justify the means. Years later, my father said we should treat prisoners of war (and other prisoners) like we want American prisoners of war to be treated.

    Doing so may or may not send a message to those who already torture (that’s why we have Geneva Conventions and world courts), but it surely sends a message to those making up their minds on the matter. As my dad would ask, whose model do we want to be?

  12. Supporting torture has everything to do with being fearful, authoritarian and right wing, but nothing to do with being Christian. All faiths are used by sad people as a desperate means to justify their nasty behavior.

  13. Well, the Old Testament’s Jehovah isn’t exactly a role model for compassion or mercy. And what is Hell but an instrument of everlasting torture? These religious sorts are standing in for God, putting the evildoers in through hell in their Master’s stead.

  14. Hell is torture, torture is hell. Powerful thought. I wonder how the Christians who favor torture would see that? Probably by reciting one of their favorites. Nuke the Middle East.

  15. They twist religion as a cover to excuse their lack of empathy. Unfortunately, they are seen, not the ones who live our their lives loving and caring for others.

  16. This commentary made me sad. I am a practicing Catholic and most definitely do NOT support torture for any reason. At a season when we are going to be celebrating the birth of Someone who turned the Old Testament beliefs and practices upside down, how very sad that so many who profess to following His example are so hypocritical. For all of those who would paint all Christians with the same brush, please remember that some of us are working from within to make changes. Whited sepulchre is a very apt description for those who hate instead of love, who would expect forgiveness but do not give it in return. Two thousand years of bad actors cannot be the only legacy we inherit. There have been many of all faiths, who have lived their faith, sometimes at great risk. Happy holidays to all those who are laboring in the fields of reason and charity.

  17. Thank you JD and Merry Christmas. There is so much good and bad in humanity of all flavors. Let’s celebrate the good while we deny the bad power over us.

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