Skip Nav
If These 30 Signs Sound Familiar, You Need to Get Out of Your Relationship ASAP
40 Disney Princess Secrets You Never Knew Growing Up
This Couple's Love Story Began in Ireland, So They Decided to Go Back For Their Wedding

6 in 10 Evangelicals Say Torture Is OK: The Golden Rule?

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?


Join The Conversation
rabidmoon rabidmoon 8 years
I have to say Evangelicals disturb me a great deal, but I also try to avoid painting all Christians as Evangelical as they certainly are not... There are people that believe its our right to "screw up" the planet because God gave it to us too, I reckon anyone that thinks "torture is fine as long as its in the name of Jesus" fits that same category of moral selectivity.
MisterPinkNoTip MisterPinkNoTip 8 years
I really don't think polls provide adequate information. That said, evangelicals frighten me.
ilanac13 ilanac13 8 years
i think that the golden rule really should be considered and remembered. we talk all the time about our soldiers being tortured for reasons that we don't understand, yet we are going to do the same to other POWs that we capture. i think that if there's a REAL benefit for it - if you're going to save a lot of lives - then there's the gray area since we've learned that nothing's absolute - but i'm a firm believe that what you do will come back to you so don't just flex muscle because you can. do it cause you have a reason that's valid.
Gluu Gluu 8 years
Of course, in a perfect world there would be no need for torture. There would be no death penalty either. But we don't live in a perfect world. That being said I do think it was a stupid poll to only target southern evangelicals.
stephley stephley 8 years
I don't trust polls, but it should be a non-brainer for Christians that torture is wrong, with or without a pollster mentioning the Golden Rule.
valancyjane valancyjane 8 years
These results could probably be duplicated with any group of Americans ... maybe not the same proportion but certainly the "Golden Rule" effect. However - since the sample used evangelicals - I would be interested to see the reasons given for justifying torture. This is just conjecture, but it seems to me that evangelicals and/or those on the right (I know those groups don't always overlap but they often do) have a nationalistic streak that those on the left don't. So if you can justify torture and you buy into "country first," "my country right or wrong," etc., I wonder if your justification for torture comes because you believe preserving national security is top priority. Just spitballing ... I could be making all sorts of incorrect assumptions. For what it's worth, I'm a Christian and I live in the South but I'm not evangelical.
MarinerMandy MarinerMandy 8 years
Michelin, I completely agree. Poll questions are always asked in a way to get a certain type of response and then "interpreted." That's kind of why I don't trust polls.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 8 years
alynn its nice that you are honest about your opinion! I am torn also about the subject.
alynn28 alynn28 8 years
and i always forget to freakin spell check. lol sorry for miss spelling extremists and necessary.
alynn28 alynn28 8 years
i think this poll more than anything, shows that southern christians are human. on one hand, some believe torture is nesassary to get information from terrorists. on the other, jesus definatley would had nothing to do with torturing people, and that makes them rethink how they view the issue. im honestly stumped on this topic. i think because were in the middle of a war, and were dealing with exteremists that want us and all that we stand for blown to bits, i have a hard time saying that we shouldnt be water boarding for information. its not like were beheading them on tv or mutilating their bobies past the point of recognition ( before and after theyve died ) as terrorists do to our soldiers and journalists, and their own citizens for that matter. i dont know, im just divided on the issue.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 8 years
I don't even understand the post.
UnDave35 UnDave35 8 years
I'm amazed at this poll. I'm glad to note that it specifically contacted Southern Evangelicals. I don't think the south speaks for all Evangelicals. I agree with Mich, this isn't a poll worthy of use, except to show that it is possible to get the desired response by asking the question in a specific way.
MartiniLush MartiniLush 8 years
Mich - you hit that nail right on the head! Exactly right!
Michelann Michelann 8 years
This is more proof that pollsters can get whatever answer they want based on how they ask the question, and less proof of anything about evangelicals in particular.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
"i find most evangelicals are hypocritical." So, you personally know "most" evangelicals? Wow. And have noted through personal observation direct examples of their individual hypocrisy? You've been busy.
Great-Sommelier Great-Sommelier 8 years
SarahPW SarahPW 8 years
i find most evangelicals are hypocritical. everyone picks and chooses what they want to from their religions teachings. i try to respect others' beliefs, but i thought the judeo-christian religions taught to love thy neighbor. doesn't seem like everyone follows that...
Jude-C Jude-C 8 years
I think that for religious Christians who do try to live their lives according to the Bible and Jesus' teachings, it should be natural to oppose torture.
ohkate ohkate 8 years
"another poll found 44 percent of Southern evangelicals rely on life experiences and common sense in parsing their views on torture" this kind of scares the shit out of me...
JonBenet Ramsey Murder Case Information
Zumba Plank Jack Challenge
Celebrity Reactions to Transgender Military Ban
Transgender Texas Woman Posts About Bathroom Bill
From Our Partners
Latest Love
All the Latest From Ryan Reynolds