Torture Survey Reveals Gap Between NAE, U.S. Evangelicals

Though the organization claiming to represent millions of evangelicals in the United States has publicly stood against the use of torture for any reason, more than three in five self-proclaimed evangelicals say they believe torture can "sometimes" or "often" be justified, according to a recent survey analysis.

Meanwhile, other groups – Catholics, mainline Protestants, and those not affiliated with the Church – are more evenly divided among those who believe torture is "sometimes," "rarely," or "never" justified, reported the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life last week.

Those who feel torture is "often" justified are less than one in five across all four groups.

The results might come as a surprise to the National Association of Evangelicals, which less than two years ago issued a 20-page statement regarding the issue of torture.

In their "Evangelical Declaration Against Torture," the organization renounced "the use of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment by any branch of our government (or any other government)-even in the current circumstance of a war between the United States and various radical terrorist groups."

"When torture is employed by a state, that act communicates to the world and to one's own people that human lives are not sacred, that they are not reflections of the Creator, that they are expendable, exploitable, and disposable, and that their intrinsic value can be overridden by utilitarian arguments that trump that value," the NAE stated. "These are claims that no one who confesses Christ as Lord can accept."

Notably, however, the more frequently a person attended religious services, the more likely they were found to believe that torture can "sometimes" be justified and less likely to believe it can "rarely" be justified, according to the Pew Forum.

The proportion of those who believe torture can "often" or "never" be justified, meanwhile, was relatively the same regardless of the frequency of their church attendance.

The Pew Forum's analysis, released this past Wednesday, was based on a survey last month by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Results for the survey, in turn, were based on telephone interviews conducted under the direction of Princeton Survey Research Associates among a nationwide sample of 1,507 adults, 18 years of age or older, from April 14 to 21.

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