Jump directly to the Content

Skye Jethani: Tortured Conscience

A new survey shows most churchgoers support torture. What should pastors say?

A political dissident is arrested for leading a movement that threatens the stability of a region. He is ambushed and apprehended by his enemies, detained without a public trail, and tortured by soldiers at the command of their political leaders. No, I'm not describing Kalid Sheikh Mohammad or any other detainee held at the prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. I'm speaking of Jesus of Nazareth.

The fact that Christians draw their faith, life, and identity from a Messiah who was the victim of political torture seems ironic in light of new research by the Pew Forum that indicates 62 percent of white evangelicals believe torture of suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. The research shows that people who attend church regularly were more likely to rationalize torture than those who do not go to church.

How do we explain these findings? Are Christians being more influenced by Jack Bauer than Jesus Christ?

Lurking behind this passive support of government torture is a utilitarian ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe to Christianity Today magazine. Subscribers have full digital access to CT Pastors articles.

July/August
Support Our Work

Subscribe to CT for less than $4.25/month

Homepage Subscription Panel

Read These Next

Related
AN AIDS POLICY: TWO CHURCHES' SEARCH
AN AIDS POLICY: TWO CHURCHES' SEARCH
What official stance should a congregation take toward members with AIDS?
From the Magazine
Disasters Are Not God’s Punishments. But They Can Judge Us.
Disasters Are Not God’s Punishments. But They Can Judge Us.
Both 18th-century earthquakes and 21st-century pandemics upend optimism and fatalism.
Editor's Pick
When Churches Put Love at the Center
When Churches Put Love at the Center
How "beloved community" helps us envision tangible ways to embody kingdom values.
close