Yesterday, I expressed puzzlement and depression at the polling news that American Christians are more likely than non-religious Americans to support the Bush policy of torturing and abusing military detainees. A reader objects:
"If you think about it, the results are not so surprising.
Consider: forced conversions ("you can die of hunger or convert"), the Salem witch trials, the Inquisitions. And I would not be at all surprised to learn that Christians favor the death penalty more than non-Christians.
I think it not unfair to say that Christianity, unlike, say, Buddhism, contains or permits belief systems that support horrific means for just ends. Heresy is, thus, grounds for burning at the stake. An "eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth". Attacking the USA (satan vs. saint) is grounds for torture.
To be honest, I am more horrified by the support for torture from people such as Alan Dershowitz who really should know better."
All I can say is that faith founded genuinely on Jesus could not begin to endorse such a concept (which is why I find Bush's endorsement of it so troubling). But then Christianity's history shows, alas, that Jesus' followers have not exactly always been faithful to his teachings. Today's age of politicized and intolerant Christianism seems to me to be one of those moments when Christianity has estranged itself most thoroughly from the priorities and spirit of its founder. But this will pass. Christianity will survive Christianism. Some true followers of Jesus will recover their faith from Caesar's grip at some point.