Pew reports (here via The Atlantic) that those who regularly attend church services are more likely to support torture, at least in some circumstances: 54% for those attending weekly, 51% monthly, and 42% for those who don’t attend at all.
It’s easy to reflexively say that worshipping a genocidal maniac will do that to you, but of course the answer is not quite as pat as that. The reason lies more likely in the way that politics has entwined itself into religion, especially in the United States where this survey was taken. In the US, Christian churches, particularly evangelical protestant ones (which showed higher support for torture than Roman Catholic or “traditional” protestant), have been courted hard by the Republican right wing for twenty years and have largely become stumps for a hard-line hawkish politic. That there is a greater support for torture in that light is unsurprising.
This reveals one of the troubling aspects about religious belief; the act of belief itself is a passive one in which the believers believe and support what they are told, even when that which they are to believe contradicts reality and even when it contradicts itself. Critical thinking is discouraged on moral issues and those affecting the chuch. Thus, we have a prolonged debate over creationism and young Earth geology despite the evidence for evolution and deep time because reality threatens a literalist interpretation of their holy books. Books which themselves are inconsistent messes on issues that should be hugely important to their adherents, but barely an eye is batted by the congregation. Thus we have religions (in theory) of peace and “turning the other cheek” supporting torture and Jihad.
That a Christian in North America would today support torture should be of no surprise consdering that they read the wisdom of the Sermon on the Mount but are told to equally uphold Old Testament gibberish about homosexuality – they have lost the critical faculties to differentiate not even subtle moral issues. The ability to critically evaluate a situation or an issue is a learned thing – it’s a muscle that atrophies if not used.
Churches are in the business of forcing and maintaining that atrophy – a believer that starts to believe on their own will soon find that they aren’t happy with that particular church and will wander. Wandering is not condoned.
You’ve got a methodist coloring book
And you color really well
But don’t color outside the lines
Or God will send you to Hell
– The Dead Milkmen