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Friday, May 01, 2009

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Inasmuch as Hell would be defined as (deservedly) eternal torture, it stands to reason that those who believe in and approve of the one would affirm the other as well.

Torture taints a just nation in the same way that the concept of Hell taints a supposedly just God.

Good insight! If this is true, I wonder how the last finding described in the post could be explained. How does thinking about religious teaching diminish the acceptability of torture among believers in hell? Is torture the default reaction, while mercy requires deeper reflection on religious teachings?

Thanks for such a thought provoking post. You may regret it, as it made me think....and write.....

Having worked on human rights for a Senator in my youth, working against US policies condoning torture and other human rights violation overseas, I am obviously not pro-torture. However, it is one thing for a government to spy upon, kidnap, kill and torture its own citizens as part of control in a dictatorship. For example Chile, Argentina, Nicaragua, Somalia, etc. I received death threats for my work drawing attention to such things in a country I had lived in as a child.

Quite another when there are times during war when known terrorists and criminals must be interrogated to gain information that will prevent greater violence in future. I just don't think torture is an effective way to get good intelligence. So I think we should ban gross physical or mental torture, abide by the Geneva Convention, and stand for the better aspects of our civilization. Not least, I want to protect the safety of unfortunate Americans who might be captured by our enemies from possible torture and mutilation.

But I don't think we should coddle our prisoners either. Not US criminals or terrorists.

I am pretty ruthless in that I don't believe in negotiating with or bribing terrorists or our enemies. I think we were right to shoot the Somali pirates, and we should do the same with any of their ilk. Turning the other cheek works in personal life, and we all have to do it daily, the price we pay for civilization. It doesn't work in international relations. (cf: Niebuhr "Moral Man and Immoral Society")

And tho I am a protestant evangelical, my opinions wouldn't be influenced by "Christian teaching" or anything my minister said about politics, torture or much of anything. I am better educated than my ministers, have an M.Div. myself, and studied international relations, and would form my own conclusions. I'm humble too! cough cough....

I am Protestant in that I believe Scripture contains all things necessary for salvation, that each individual soul must wrestle directly with God and the Bible, in fear and trembling, to discern the right way. The Bible has shaped my views on most issues, certainly on politics. Sometimes as an awful example of human depravity that modern Americans must avoid!

Politically, I despise the Democrats and many Republicans, but I guess I'm a conservative populist, a hawk on foreign affairs. Yet I believe that America must be a city on a hill. So, think we must be ferocious with our enemies in the defence of the nation or of oppressed people (victims of genocide or Saddam or Hitler-caliber tyranny), but also believing that we should set a good example, promote democracy, the rights of women, religious toleration, in our activities abroad.

If anything, I would look to the Army and the Join Chiefs and the CIA as well as my own common sense in forming my opinions. I am a patriot. And I trust the people who put their lives on the line for our country. I do not trust a single politician, wouldn't believe anything they said about an international or domestic situation, and basically consider them all clowns, and bread and circuses to give people the illusion that we (not corporations and rich people) have any control over our own country.

For the record, most evangelical Christians I know haven't the slightest interest in Heaven or Hell, and no morbid preoccupation with the tortures of the damned. All we know or care about Heaven is that if we walk with God here on earth, we shall live with Him forever, and that we shall be changed. It is a mystery. The point is to do good and conquer our own sins and weakness during what time we have on this earth, to spread God's love in the here and now, and leave the afterlife to God.

Who me, opinionated?

Something else from the FPL survey that I found interesting: when the researchers asked Southern evangelicals if the U.S. government should use methods against our enemies that we would not want used on American soldiers, they saw a 14 point increase in the number who responded "never" or "rarely." The initial version of the question found that only 38% responded "never" or "rarely," while the "Golden Rule" version of the question found 52% responding "never" or "rarely."

The link below was supposed to be a pop-up, but something is wrong with my code. If you check out the link, you will have to hit the back button to come back to the comments.
Golden Rule results

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