The polls tell us America is a Christian nation, with a Republican, Creationist, pro-torture heartland

Summary: This mornings post looks at America’s deeds and asked Is America a Christian nation?  Now we look at the polls for answers to that question, and find that America has a strong Christian core. They tend to vote Republican, believe in Creationism, and approve of torture.   (2nd of 2 posts today.)

“Jesus wept.”
— John 11:35

American church


  1. How many Americans believe in Creationism?
  2. How many Americans believe torture is good?
  3. How many Americans regularly attend church?
  4. For More Information

(1)  How many Americans believe in Creationism?

Gallup has been polling American’s belief in evolution since 1982. Here are their results. A solid 42% give the standard Christian answer, a number stable since 1982.

Gallup Poll about evolution

(2)  How many Americans believe torture is good?

Lots.  A December 9 Pew Research report sums up the polls. Roughly 1/2 of Americans — and over 2/3 of Republicans — believe torture is “sometimes or often” justified.

Opinion has shifted since then, with more Americans finding torture acceptable. In August 2011, a narrow majority (53%) of Americans said the use of torture could be often or sometimes justified, while 42% said it could only rarely be justified or not be justified at all.

A more recent poll by Associated Press/NORC conducted in August 2013 found similar results. Half said the use of torture could sometimes or often be justified while 47% said it could rarely or never be justified.

But polling has found that there are differences along party lines with Republicans more supportive than Democrats of torture with suspected terrorists. In our 2011 survey, a substantial majority of Republicans (71%) said torture could be at least sometimes justified, compared with 51% of independents and 45% of Democrats. In the AP/NORC poll, 66% of Republicans backed use of torture in dealing with terrorists compared with 53% of independents and 39% of Democrats.

That September 2013 AP-NORC poll showed that Republicans have little interest in our Constitutional, treaty, and legal prohibitions against torture.

AP-NORC poll: -torture approval by politicla party

Other polls give us another perspective on the Americans who approve torture. From an article by Sara Posner in Religious Dispatches, 16 December 2014:

A new Washington Post/ABC News poll finds that Americans, by a 59-31% margin, believe that CIA “treatment of suspected terrorists” in detention was justified.

A plurality deemed that “treatment” to be “torture,” by a 49-38% margin.

Remarkably, the gap between torture supporters and opponents widens between voters who are Christian and those who are not religious. Just 39% of white evangelicals believe the CIA’s treatment of detainees amounted to torture, with 53% of white non-evangelical Protestants and 45% of white Catholics agreeing with that statement. Among the non-religious, though, 72% said the treatment amounted to torture. (The poll did not break down non-Christian religions in the results.)

Sixty nine percent of white evangelicals believe the CIA treatment was justified, compared to just 20% who said it was not. (Those numbers, incidentally, roughly mirror the breakdown of Republican versus Democratic voters among white evangelicals.) A full three-quarters (75%) of white non-evangelical Protestants outnumber the 22% of their brethren in saying CIA treatment was justified. White Catholics believe the treatment was justified by a 66-23% margin.

But a majority of non-religious adults, 53%, believe the CIA actions were not justified, with 41% of the non-religious saying the treatment was justified.

(3) How many Americans regularly attend church?

This gives us a basis for comparison with the above numbers. Polls give us tentative answers: roughly 1 in 3 Americans go weekly, another 1/3 go 1 to 12 times per year. For details see “What surveys say about worship attendance – and why some stay home“, Pew Research, 13 December 2013.

Pew Poll on Church attendance

Also see:

  1. Self-reported church attendance has varied between 37% and 49% since 1950“, Gallup, 24 December 2013
  2. Study: “I Know What You Did Last Sunday” Finds Americans Significantly Inflate Religious Participation“, Public Religion Research Institute, 17 May 2014

(4) For More Information

See all posts about Libertarians and the Tea Party.

Other posts about Christianity:

  1. Should we fear that religion whose believers have killed so many people?, 4 August 2010
  2. Wisdom of Rush Limbaugh: Are *YOU* a good Christian, like Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army?, 16 October 2011 — If Obama’s against them, Rush is for them.
  3. God and the Tea Party Movement, 30 March 2012
  4. The difference between Christianity & Libertarianism marks a line between America & the New America, 11 February 2013
  5. Is America a Christian nation?, 19 December 2014
  6. The polls tell us America is a Christian nation, with a Republican, Creationist, pro-torture heartland, 19 December 2014

18 thoughts on “The polls tell us America is a Christian nation, with a Republican, Creationist, pro-torture heartland”

  1. A Christian is one who is Christlike, or at least attempts to be Christlike. Watch what people do, and compare it with what they say. Would Christ torture? I think not. We are a Christian nation in name only. What we really believe in is wealth, and the more the better.

    On what scale was this done? How many were tortured in Iraq, Afghanistan, Gitmo?

    What affect did these actions have on those who preformed the torture?

    If we turned captives over to others for “enhanced interrogation” with power tools, then I would say “bring back the draft”, our enemies have multiplied. Why the rush to abandon the moral high ground?

    And finally, what is victory, what does it look like, how do we get there? The plan appears to be one that was and is dependent on the people of Iraq, Afghanistan and their neighbors becoming happy democratic nations. That mission is not enhanced by torture, and now may be unobtainable, if it ever was.

    Am I a Christian? That will be determined by a higher power.

  2. Determined by a higher power? Christianity if it is so elusive to the self surely is falling short for the hopeful. Sorry. Nice try. The essential question is what would Christ do?

    And your answer is….?


    1. Depends on what you believe. Some believe Christ guides their lives on a daily basis. I believe God gave man free will, to choose right or wrong. On the other hand if you want to know what I think Christ would do at this point in time I think serious consideration would be given to humanity’s distruction or allow us to continue on our present course and see if we destroy our civilization or save it.

      So I believe Christ allows us to decide our fate. Christ, as I believe it, will/would do nothing. Why would he?

      1. James,

        “I think serious consideration would be given to humanity’s destruction”

        Me, too. “Michael, give Me the ethnic cleansing powder.” On the other hand, we are as we were made — and were given no users manual or system documentation. In that light, I think we’ve done quite well. Think of us as feral children, abandoned in the wilderness at birth. We’ve grown up quite wild, but we are making progress. Like a talking horse, we don’t do it (civilization) well — but it’s amazing that we do it at all.

        It’s all a matter of perspective.

  3. Yeah, saw this. Torture becoming popular and mainstream? This is darksided.
    Support torture? Really, that person can rationalize absolutely anything, and I mean anything. Stay safe out there.

  4. All this debate about the putative beliefs of invisible sky fairies seems amusing, and withal entirely irrelevant to the realities facing us right now. As, for example, that humans are currently producing the sixth great mass extinction of life on earth in the last half-billion years…a mass dieoff larger than the one that killed the dinosaurs.

    How well will humans do without 80% of the species on earth? Time will tell. I’m not optimistic. Ecosystems tend to exhibit high levels of integration.

    1. Thomas,

      “All this debate about the putative beliefs of invisible sky fairies seems amusing”

      The debate is about beliefs of people on Earth, and how they act on those beliefs. The truth of their beliefs about metaphysics and history is a different debate entirely.

      “the sixth great mass extinction”

      Yes, that’s being tried as the next great fear bombardment. It looks terrifying when shown by activists. However there is little support for the theory; citing it as fact is silly. While still debated, there is a large body of evidence showing this theory is incorrect. Here’s some snippets.

      (1) Scientists Clash on Claims Over Extinction ‘Overestimates’“, New York Times, 18 May 2011 — Opening:

      For decades, it has been an open secret among conservationists. An elegant equation widely used to calculate how many species will go extinct from deforestation and habitat destruction — one of the “laws” of ecological theory — was a little shaky. More often than not, unless carefully calibrated, the equation seemed to overestimate extinction rates.

      Early threats of mass global extinctions by 2000, based on the algorithm, failed to materialize. Exploring why, ecologists developed ideas like the “extinction debt.” Species found in reduced habitats may not go extinct immediately, they said, but inexorably, their numbers would at some point decline. While the timing was not clear, the law, if modified, held true.

      But still many wondered: Where are the extinct species? Where are the bodies?

      (2) A clear 2 page summary of the research: “Species loss revisited“, Carsten Rahbek and Robert K. Colwell, Nature, 19 May 2011 — “Conservationists predict massive extinctions as a result of habitat loss. Habitat loss undoubtedly does drive extinctions, but dealing with an unmet assumption that underlies these predictions yields much lower estimates.”

      (3) Species–area relationships always overestimate extinction rates from habitat loss“, Fangliang He & Stephen P. Hubbell, Nature, 19 May 2011 — Abstract:

      Extinction from habitat loss is the signature conservation problem of the twenty-first century1. Despite its importance, estimating extinction rates is still highly uncertain because no proven direct methods or reliable data exist for verifying extinctions. The most widely used indirect method is to estimate extinction rates by reversing the species–area accumulation curve, extrapolating backwards to smaller areas to calculate expected species loss. Estimates of extinction rates based on this method are almost always much higher than those actually observed.

      This discrepancy gave rise to the concept of an ‘extinction debt’, referring to species ‘committed to extinction’ owing to habitat loss and reduced population size but not yet extinct during a non-equilibrium period. Here we show that the extinction debt as currently defined is largely a sampling artefact due to an unrecognized difference between the underlying sampling problems when constructing a species–area relationship (SAR) and when extrapolating species extinction from habitat loss. The key mathematical result is that the area required to remove the last individual of a species (extinction) is larger, almost always much larger, than the sample area needed to encounter the first individual of a species, irrespective of species distribution and spatial scale.

      We illustrate these results with data from a global network of large, mapped forest plots and ranges of passerine bird species in the continental USA; and we show that overestimation can be greater than 160%. Although we conclude that extinctions caused by habitat loss require greater loss of habitat than previously thought, our results must not lead to complacency about extinction due to habitat loss, which is a real and growing threat.

  5. The bottom line is Man is flawed, has been since the beginning. We try to construct bodies on our behavior with laws and religion but often violate the tenants we hold dear, often with justifications made as if by a child caught misbehaving. This is the state of Man.

  6. torture is about the torturer, not about the victim, the victim is just a prop in the tortures rape fantasy. Tortures are perverts, they are the lowest form of rapist, they do what they do for sexual gratification.

    Crime lords and war lords force conscripts to commit torture in order to bond them to the group permanently, once you have compromised your own integrity and become a pervert your dependent on the group identify for any semblance of self esteem.

    Rome held sadistic games in which tens of thousands were tortured to death in just one big game, the Aztecs held religious rituals that could eviscerate and cannibalize up to 30.000 in a single day, Nazi Germany allowed Doctors to torture countless children to death in medical experiments, The Spanish inquisition attempted to condemn all of Netherlands to the most hideous imaginable tortures, countless people died in conditions so horrific its unimaginable,

    Once a population becomes aroused at the sight of blood, once blood lust is made “normal” they can never attain freedom, bread and “circuses” meant bread and torture. Americans are being conditioned to becoming dehumanized, movies like Saw and Hostile turn the entire nation into perverts who become pleased at the sight of extreme suffering.

    Each empire of history that became overly sadistic fell because of it, Rome was holding sadistic games on the say it was overrun by the barbarians, the Aztecs were crushed by the Spanish who were crushed in turn by the English, each empire less sadistic than the one before it.

    An entire generation of World War II Germans and Japanese had to be killed because they embraced torture, the holocaust and the rape of Nanking betrayed a population unworthy of tolerance, so none was given, today both countries are better of for the loss of those generations.

    Lasting empires are founded on education and technology not on secrecy and torture, a nation that sees torture as salvation is absolutly assuredly lost, Americans love of torture dooms America.

  7. I never quite understand if you are trying to advance our society to a higher level or destroy it.Unfortunately the blog seems to have no unifying theme or vision to adhere to or offer a better future.Just a lot of navel gazing with plenty of good old fashioned guilt thrown in with a few interesting ideas- Blue Star Mothers,well done!

    You’ve taken a poll from an organization whose motives are questionable at best and treated it as gospel for your purposes,which are questionable at best.And you are well aware of the questionable accuracy of these so called polls.For what purpose?

    Always easy(and cowardly) to pick on Christians and others that won’t behead you for your views,isn’t it? Go ahead,call us names like knuckle draggers in flyover country,or bitter clinger.Please display the bigotry,Christians are used to it.And you will keep your head and not be tortured for it.

    You haven’t addressed why Muslims behead people on you tube.How did they poll on torture and beheadings? When will we see those results posted here with so called analysis and be able to comment on them?

    I truly wish all those at FM and their families the best of holidays and peace!

    1. Elle,

      Yes, the truth hurts. I don’t see any rebuttal. Which makes sense, since these findings have been replicated in various forms by many organizations at many times. If you don’t wish to accept the facts, OK.

      “You haven’t addressed why Muslims behead people on you tube.”

      False. See the posts about Islam. I do put Islam in a historical context, and compare their deeds with ours.

      “the blog seems to have no unifying theme or vision to adhere to or offer a better future.”

      False. See the 51 posts about Reforming America: steps to political change. These get low traffic. People prefer to rant, cheer the folks they like and boo the ones they don’t. Yea for facts they like; close their eyes to those they don’t like. This makes us easy to govern.

  8. Thank you for your gracious reply!

    I always get confused by the “facts” from polls.Those medical “facts” are also pesky,one day “experts” say coffee is good for me,the next day the “facts” state coffee is killing society and causes global warming!

    Then,FM posts today that the government is lying to me and I believe it!

    All these different “facts” from these different and obviously altruistic sources,who should a blond trust? Who would Jesus trust?

    Again,best of holidays to all those at FM!

    1. Mistresselle,

      I don’t understand the nature of your comment.

      The essence of a peon is surrendering one’s efforts to understand the world, and either slumping into apathy or accepting what the authorities say. Both are acceptable to tyrants.

      The episodes described here are historical facts. I doubt that there are any substantial number of experts who disagree. Do you doubt any of the matters described here? If so, what level of evidence would convince you of their truth?

      In the present we lack this degree of perspective. But we can learn from our past credulity and regard statements of our government with skepticism — which is the point of this post. Do you disagree? If so, why?

      Looking beyond this post, we have tools to sort truth from lies — understanding that we can only make a best effort. For example, government stories which advance their long-standing plans (i.e., to demonize the Axis of Evil nations and exaggerate their strenght) should be regarded with a high degree of skepticism. “Admissions against interest”, where the government’s story undercuts its views and policies, warrant more gentle evaluation.

      If the effort to distinguish between truth and false is too burdensome for you, join the crowd of subjects in the New America. When such folks have grown too numerous, the Republic will have died.

  9. Thank you again for another gracious response!

    It’s not your parsing of the data I question,its Gallup,Pew ,Posner and Uncle Sam I question.If one has ever watched the man on the street polls one knows we just dont know that much about a lot and individuals will tell pollsters what they think they want to hear.I also think the pollsters will tell whoever paid them what they wish to hear.Unfortunately some of the links are blocked due to security issues and cookie issues.What specifically were the questions asked and to whom? What was the motive of the questioners? Who paid them and why? Qui Bono? That sort of thing.I’m aware you probably don’t have access to that data.

    Then there is the question of what exactly constitutes torture and how was that defined in the polls? Always highly subjective.

    And yes,I am confused.Demonizing Christians and exaggerating their strengths and shortcomings will do what exactly to restore the Republic?

    1. Elle,

      I asked what would convince you of the accuracy of these many polls. Apparently nothing. This is a commonplace in America today. People value their tribal truths, no matter how vast the contrary evidence.

      It makes us so easy to rule.

      So again, what would convince you that the data collected by so many different organizations over decades is wrong?

      As for the whole insulting Christians gig, that’s silly. We have to clearly see the world, if we are to have any chance to prosper in the 20th century. Facts are facts, no matter how ugly.

  10. So how about torture of criminal suspects? If it’s “legal” to protect Americans in our war on terror, then why not torture homicide suspects, DWI suspects, robbery suspects, Drug pushers? After all we’ve lost thousands, of men, women and children as the result of these crimes.

    How well would you do as a suspect? Would the truth be revealed? Would some innocents confess to avoid the pain? Would you?

    1. James,

      I suspect torture is coming to America. Just as Bush Jr. made assassination a centerpiece of US military strategy, Obama stated formal open assassination of US citizens. Just a few people whom the government said were bad, without the tiresome bother of evidence and trials.

      He started small, just as RICO and asset seizures started small. And have grown so large.

      As for effectiveness, torture has been proven ineffective. People torture for fun and for effect – as a demonstration of power. Those are the results that matter.

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