05 August 2011

Religion and violence

These two charts come to me by way of the Hipster Libertarian (click to enlarge, as always)

Let's ignore the sectarian comparisons for a second. What interests me is comparing the top chart to the bottom. A majority of Christians, Jews and Mormons think it is acceptable for the government to kill civilians. But across all faiths a majority of respondents think it is unacceptable for civilians to kill other civilians. This strikes me as oddly asymmetric.  It's okay for the big, tough kid to hit some of the little kids (because we trust his judgement more?) but it's not okay for one little kid to hit another little kid.

It should either be acceptable to kill civilians in pursuit of your goals, or it shouldn't be.  I could go on about why I think people think this,* but I'd rather leave it as something for you to meditate about.

(* Most obvious explanation: people think it is okay for the military to kill civilians because those victims are far away and foreign (and also poor and dark-skinned) but it's not okay for civilians to kill other civilians because those victims are us. I think this might get filed under "Dumb stuff I think people think.")

PS I can't help making one sectarian comparison: the Protestant and Catholic responses are for all purposes identical.  What does this say about the nature of Catholic moral teaching?  These results make it look impotent as it relates to this issue, at least.


  1. These numbers look very suspect to me. Look at the source. Abu-Dhabi, really?

  2. Fair enough. Prepend an "Assuming these numbers are accurate..." warning to my comments then.