Worship Often: Approve Torture

The more often you attend church the more likely you are to approve torture. As startling as it sounds, if we are to believe the latest Pew research on religious  attitudes, that’s the case.

This is just breath-taking. That a religious community would be favorable to torture, much less approve it, is so paradoxical it strains credulity. But there it is.

Susan Brooks Thistlewaite looks at why she thinks some Christians accept behavior that is, for some of us, beyond the pale. She believes it’s theological. If she’s correct, the amalgam of culture, politics and religion that she says is behind this view illustrates how differently Christians view both the social context of faith and how they interpret the teachings of the faith.

Thistlewaite notes that Jesus told Peter to put away his sword after Peter drew it and cut off the ear of one who had come to take him to trial. (Matt 26:51,52) His rejection of violence at that moment makes a case for not engaging in violence against one’s accusers, or enemies, she says.

It would take a volume to distill the different approaches to faith that lead to this wide discrepancy. But the Pew finding adds urgency to the need for education about what Jesus did teach and how he practiced his teachings, and in neither did he advocate torturing human beings.

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