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Survey: Most Americans say it's wrong to celebrate bin Laden's death
Students at West Virginia University in Morgantown celebrate after hearing the news of Osama bin Laden's death.
May 11th, 2011
03:38 PM ET

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.

My Take: Poll reveals a disposable Jesus

"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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Islam • United States

soundoff (438 Responses)
  1. morris2196

    I was not happy that a person was killed. But I am comforted that a mass murderer was punished for his wrongdoing.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
    • Frogist

      @morris: I think that's a part of the divide. People no longer consider Bin Laden human. I don't think it's wise to ever objectify a person like that because we then tend to ignore the things that made that person turn on other people. It puts up a block to understanding how to prevent something like this from happening again or see the signs of it approaching.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  2. John R

    Bull. This is simply not a true story. Marrapodi your a quack, and have no business being a writer.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  3. N@tTurn3r

    Funny how so many of you celebrate Bin Laden's death, but had we captured him and used waterboarding to obtain information, you'd all be crying foul.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • marco

      "Y'all gonna make me go all out, up in here, up in here.
      Y'all gonna me me act a fool up in here, up in here"

      "Daaaaaance the night away"

      "I wanna rock & roll alll night, and party ev-ery day!"

      Whatever your musical taste....Bin Laden's dead and it's time for a PARTY OF THE CENTURY!!!

      May 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  4. DN

    It was poor taste like spiking the football as President Obama might say. What Osama bin Laden did was gruesome and horrible, but learning of his death should've been a time of reflection and introspection for our country, remembering the 1000's of Americans who died at his hands.

    Those celebrations looked immature and of Neanderthal mentality. It was crude.

    Also, remember, when the top Nazis were captured, they were not killed. The Nazi criminals faced their crimes against humanity in a trial in Nuremberg, Germany. Why would we do this? Because we are better than them and we showed them just that.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
    • Danny K

      Apples to oranges. Some of the top terrorists are currently detained and will eventually be tried. We'll never know what we would have done with the TOP Nazi because he had the forsight to kill himself.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • vasechek

      many of the near-top nazis were executed, cremated, and their ashes spread over the river

      May 12, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  5. CiscoC

    When the second plane hit the World Trade Center, we all knew at that moment it was an act of terror. When the world saw it too. Those who hated the United States cheered on streets. So i am saying as an American citizen I know glad we celebrate the day of terrorist Leader death marking a day in history that those who died on 9/11, their death will not go in vain. Justice was served and the war terror continues.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  6. NoWay

    I trust 'surveys' as far as I can throw a bull elephant by the tail. I can make them say whatever Ii want. Get a life. It's done.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  7. Danny K

    62% of the people need to get off their high horses.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  8. gonerunnning

    I guess I'm in the 38%.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  9. Adam

    I disagree with the consensus. Osama was a monster. I will rejoice in the death of an evil, cruel monster. I will also rejoice thinking of the hundreds, if not thousands of lives that were saved (his future victims). I will, however, mourn the loss Osama – not at his death, but somewhere along his timeline. There once was a time when Osama was an innocent child. A child that probably delighted in all the other innocent joys that other children enjoy. Somewhere along the way, we lost that good, innocent person. I mourn that loss: the loss of a child's innocence to an adult monster. I do not mourn the death of a monster – in that, I rejoice.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  10. Darrell

    cheering is the least of his worries, the hell he is in for the crimes that he commited is most likely a lot more painfull, thank god, you have him now, but would be nice to see the greeting he recieved when his name was called to come to me from the Almighty himself– GOD!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm |
    • dbrock010

      Then, according to the survey, your views are consistent with 65% of Americans.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:33 pm |
  11. Izzy

    It's not wrong to cheer about his death because he deserved it! After what we had to go through and see our own people dieing in front of our eyes! We are just happy he's not here to mess with us nomore...even though stuff still might happen but atleast we have there plans so we dont let it happen now! U.S.A. CHEER ON!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  12. Nancy

    I did not celebrate his death, I celebrated the end of an almost 10 year hunt to bring to justice the person behind the deaths of so many innocent civilians. I have a feeling that reasonable people who admitted celebrating the news were probably thinking more along those lines. Yes, I drank a toast to the end of the obsession with this one heinous individual. Am I glad he's dead? I'm not sure. I think taking him alive would have caused a great deal more trouble than he was worth, although his death has obviously brought other problems with it.

    I'm glad he's no longer able to plot against more innocents. I hope that we garnered more actionable intelligence from the raid, and I hope that some of the families of the 9/11 victims felt some sense of closure with his passing.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  13. STFU

    I thought it was awesome, personally.....

    May 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  14. solo

    I do not understand why the media make it big deal of the death of Osama, He killed over 3,000 people includiing Kenya, Tanzania and all over the world. In my opnion their is thousand more Osama left and we should kill them all. We do not need the Survey on this.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  15. mocha

    I don't think we should whoop it up and celebrate and have parties. We should not act like them!! We can be happy about it and talk about it but acting like a bunch of drunk idiots makes us all look bad.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Dmont

      two wrongs don't make a right.....we are ony doing the same thing they are doing so we are equal

      May 11, 2011 at 6:30 pm |
  16. mark

    i didn't feel the urge to party but i sure felt a VERY INTENSE grim happiness. i think i was smiling, but also a little quivering from the anger i felt on 9/11...all in all, not really the recipe for confetti and champaign, but that was just me and i guess a lot of others. i didn't mind that others were more party happy. certainly beats vigilante/hate crime happy. but i was definitely feeling some kind of cathartic happiness...

    May 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  17. sheppard

    Well boo hoo – I felt nothing but joy and relief. Do I normally feel that way when a human being dies? Of course not – there was nothing "normal" about 911 nor about obl. I would imagine I would have been just as joyful and relieved had I been around when hitler died. I am apologizing for nothing...

    May 11, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  18. PK

    I seem to remember the videos of arabs dancing in the streets for weeks after the attack in their expression of joy over the victory achieved by the terrorists. Guess it's just not so joyous these days......

    May 11, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
    • TechGromit

      I recall the same thing. Thousands of Arabs in dozens of countries dancing in the street when the World Trade Centers collapsed. So it's OK to celebrate the demise of over 3,000 Americans but not OK to do the same for one Saudi?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • fixer2010

      True, PK. But, I think that the point they are trying to make here is that we should act, think, and overall be the more moral persons.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
    • vasechek

      so when you grow up you want to be just like those arabs?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
    • Serious

      So your thinking is: if terrorist do it then it must be right? .......Can we please use the brain God gave us before we post things for all the world to see?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
    • CitizenOfAmerica

      You're wrong again Vasecheck. wrong, wrong, wrong! Pretty damn wrong.

      Arabs celebrates for their kill from their onslaught, while us only celebrates for the victory of justice that has been served.

      How can we be like them? You must either be a dolt or just too sick to say that.

      It not safe to let you roam around, you must be put in quarantine!

      May 13, 2011 at 4:13 am |
  19. 12345

    USA,USA,USA, Too bad he was not hung,quartered & drawn in a NY Town square!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
    • Jiminredstate

      Celebrating bin hatin's death? OMG. I'm thinking something more fitting, like a May 1st National Holiday, with another terrorist pos executed on subsequent anniversaries. KSM, yer up. Get the trial over with and any appeals, by May 1st next year. We could even bend to muslim sensitivities and give KSM a nice burial in the sea of martyrs, hands and feet tied, and screaming as he's slid into the water!

      May 11, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  20. Catalina

    Then no army should celebrate a victory, after all the enemy is dead...BS!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
    • TimTN

      I'm calling BS on this survey. Amazing that Fox News had a similiar survey that was 80-20 in favor of it. Anybody that didn't celebrate the demise of that creature needs to pack up and move over there with the rest of them.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
    • Dave

      This is so stupid and I don't believe it. Where did they do the survey in Pakistan?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
    • mark

      well, i'm not surprised that people reacted the way they did. As for the ones that say anything about the celebration as being in bad taste. go back to 9/11/2001 and view video of the palestinians celebrating in the streets of their towns when the twin towers in new york fell.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • vasechek

      lemme get this straight, by celebrating this you're catching up with those palestinians? congrats. you've caught up... are you now going to catch up with their other fallacies, too?

      as for original post – i'd like to see current or former military personnel come out and say they get into the military to kill and celebrate killing before i accept this dig at "the army".

      May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Frogist

      @vasechek : You make very good points.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.