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D9+: Survey Says Most Americans Think Celebrating is Wrong

May 11, 2011

Survey: Most Americans say it’s wrong to celebrate bin Laden’s death
By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN) – Those who cheered outside the White House and Ground Zero on the night Osama bin Laden was killed may have been in the minority.

A survey released Wednesday showed 62% of Americans agree it is immoral to celebrate the death of another human being, “no matter how bad that person was.”

When asked separately if a passage from Proverbs 24:17 – “Do not rejoice when your enemies fall” – applies to how Americans should react to the death of Osama bin Laden, 60% of Americans agreed.

“There’s widespread agreement across religion and party lines about how Americans should act in the wake of the killing of Osama bin Laden,” said Robert P. Jones, president of Public Religion Research Institute, which designed and conducted the survey in partnership with Religion News Service.

The survey also found “fairly big disagreement and division over the morality and the effectiveness of torture and harsh interrogation methods,” Jones said.

When asked if they agreed that using torture could “never be justified” to get information from suspected terrorists, 49% of those surveyed agreed and 43% disagreed.

“We’ve been watching these numbers on torture for a while now,” Jones said. “They’ve been fairly consistent for the last few years that the country is fairly evenly divided. The partisan division is really big here, and there are a few religious differences.

“Democrats, maybe not surprisingly, are much more likely to say torture is never justified than Republicans. Younger Americans are much more likely than older Americans to say that torture can never be justified.”

According to the survey, 60% of Democrats agreed that torture can never be justified, while 53% of Republicans disagreed.

“One thing we try to do is gauge public opinion but also gauge it in the religious context,” Jones said.

To that end they also asked survey respondents if they thought God had a special role for America in human history; 51% answered yes.

Asked if they believed “Osama bin Laden will be eternally punished for his sins in hell,” 65% said yes.

The May 5-8 survey was conducted by telephone with 1,007 Americans age 18 and older by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Opinion Research Corporation. The overall margin of error is +/- 3 percentage points.

The questionnaire is here.

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