The Senate Democrats’ recent “torture” report denouncing enhanced interrogation of terror suspects after 9-11 has ignited strong echoing support from many religious voices.
Typical for some has been nondenominational pastor and writer Brian Zahnd, who declared emphatically: “You cannot be Christian and support torture. I want to be utterly explicit on this point. There is no possibility of compromise.”
Perhaps it is that simple, but nearly all Christians prior to the last couple hundred years or less likely supported without much question harsh practices now considered torture, including Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, Thomas More, and John Calvin among many others. Providentially democratic regimes in the modern era typically regard extreme cruelty by the state as unacceptable, but modesty about our contemporary moral superiority is in order.
A recent poll, to the exasperation of critics, shows most American Catholics, Protestants, and Evangelicals think enhanced interrogation was justified after 9-11. Many of these