There has been a long controversy over the ability of the religious right to justify most any position of the GOP on the environment or civil liberties in terms of religious faith. However, the recent Republican effort to embrace and justify torture presented a bit of a problem for the faithful, particularly Christians who worship a man who was tortured to death on a cross. That presented no problem for Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate and leader of the religious right, who has announced that it would have been immoral for the Bush administration not to torture people.
Recently, a poll showed that religious people are more likely to support torture. The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 62 percent of white evangelical Protestants said torture of a suspected terrorist could be often or sometimes justified to obtain important information.
Gary Bauer rejected the question of “Would Jesus torture?” Instead, he explained “There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn’t do because he’s the son of God. I can’t imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is, ‘What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?’ I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information.” In our steady moral decline, it is “morally suspect” not to torture. It turns out the the question of “what is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?” is not answered by Jesus’ image or teachings but people like Bauer who believe that torturing people is morally superior despite that fact that it violated international law and every intelligible moral precept.
Of course, the Bush administration tortured people just in case they knew about attacks. Dick Cheney reportedly called for the torture of detainees to establish a link between Al Qaeda and Iraq to fend off critics of the Iraq war.
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