Lead sentence in CNN article: “The more Americans go to church, the more likely they are to support the torture of suspected terrorists, according to a new survey.”
Third paragraph: “White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified--more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it.”
Patty and I were sitting in Wendy’s, quietly working our way through our combo meals. The ladies behind us were working their way through their friends.
“What kind of Christian does she think she is?” scoffed one. “Supporting terrorists by saying we shouldn’t torture them.”
“I know,” said another. “I always thought better of her than that.”
“She may have a lot of people fooled with that sweet smile and soft voice,” said the first, “but God knows what’s in her heart, and you can bet it’s not a pretty sight.”
“She actually pointed at her ‘What Would Jesus Do?”’ wristlet when she was talking to Wilma and told her that she didn’t believe Jesus would waterboard someone, or strip him naked and sic a dog on him,” tossed in a third. “Can you believe it?”
“I heard that too,” said a fourth. “Wilma told me she couldn’t believe her ears. She was just shocked.”
“Not as much as those thugs at Guantanamo when we hooked them up to electrodes,” joked the second woman.
“This isn’t a laughing matter, Gladys,” one of them reprimanded her. “We’re talking about someone whose patriotism is so shaky her immortal soul is in danger.”
“I tried to talk some faith into her,” said the third woman. “Jane,” I said, “Jesus never said a word forbidding torture. Search the New Testament from beginning to end, and he never says a word against torturing your enemies.”
“You’re right, of course,” said the first woman. “I hope that gave her something to think about.”
“To tell the truth, she didn’t think much about it at all,” said the third woman. “She just quoted Matthew, chapter 5, from the Sermon on the Mount. ‘Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. ’ She claimed that Jesus was very clear about how we were supposed to treat our enemies, and torture sure didn’t fit in the picture Jesus was drawing.”
There was a pause. Patty and I looked at each other, ears perked, waiting.
Finally, the first woman sighed. “I hate to say it,” she said, “but sometimes Jesus could be awfully unrealistic.”
“I know what you mean,” said the second woman. “Those are great ideals, but we live in the real world, with suicide bombers and people flying planes into buildings.”
“Right,” said the third woman, “Jesus did have enemies, you know, and he didn’t torture them or kill them. But look what happened to him.”
I glanced around. They were all absentmindedly fingering their crosses while they gave that some thought.
“My gosh, look at the time!” said the first woman suddenly. “We’re going to be late for prayer meeting if we don’t get a move on.”
© Tony Russell, May 12, 2009