A firestorm has erupted over an analysis from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life showing that white evangelical Protestants are far more likely than those in other faith traditions to support the use of torture against suspected terrorists ... the blogosphere blew up, with representatives of various faiths - and even some evangelicals - accusing evangelicals of forsaking the love-thine-enemy doctrine of Christianity, and evangelicals protesting that they were being unfairly tarred as un-Christian ... the original analysis overlooked a centrally important piece of information: the big dividing line on public support for torture as a tool in terrorism investigations is along partisan lines, not religious ones.Apparently, it was quite the conflagration that Pew took a closer look.
Indeed, religion is only one of many factors correlated with views on the justifiability of torture. Differences between Republicans and Democrats are even larger than differences across religious groups, with 64% of Republicans saying torture can be often or sometimes justified, compared with only 36% among Democrats ... Statistical analysis that simultaneously examines correlations between views on torture, partisanship, ideology and demographic variables (including religion, education, race, etc.) finds that party and ideology are much better predictors of views on torture than are religion and most other demographic factors.
In short, Republicans are twice more likely to approve torture. Political not religious affiliation is the main determinant of who thinks torture is a good thing. But then again, don't Republicans invoke God more than the rest of us? And aren't most White Evangelicals card carrying members of the GOP?
As Pew points out in the same statement:
Of course, religion itself is known to be a strong factor shaping individuals' partisanship and political ideology. Attitudes about torture are likely to reflect both moral judgments and political considerations -- both of which may be formed in part by religious convictions -- about circumstances under which torture may be justified.
So after dousing the flames and clearing the smoke, it looks like nothing has changed. Really.
Image from peacepalestine.