The age-old question, "WWJD?" might have a hand in people's perception of the war on terror — or at least how information is gathered. A new poll shows that 57 percent of Southern evangelicals believe that torture is justified as a means of gaining important information from suspected terrorists. The tune changes however when presented with the Golden Rule.
When asked first to consider this statement: "the US government should not use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers," the percent of respondents who said torture was rarely or never justified rose from 38 percent to 52 percent.
A spokesman for the research said of the shift, "Presenting people with this argument and identifying with the golden rule really does engage a different part of people's psyche and a part of their heart, their soul, and really does shift their views on torture."
To see the "why" behind the shift,
Perhaps this explains the willingness to shift: another poll found 44 percent of Southern evangelicals rely on life experiences and common sense in parsing their views on torture, while only 28 percent report relying on Christian teachings or beliefs.
It appears the opinions aren't formed in the hypothetical either. Interestingly, 53 percent believe the government actually uses torture, despite claims to the contrary. As some religious groups protest torture, one Christian ethics professor says the data shows that people can change their mind on torture if it's presented from a moral standpoint, "Opinion on this question is movable." Should it be moved? Can considering the Golden Rule be useful when it comes to torture?