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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. littletingod

    Cheer for the death of OBL? Of course I did. Just not in public like Muslims do when an American is killed.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  2. Serialchiller

    The fact that the vast majority of the comments on this article agree with celebrating Osama's death, I call bunk.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
  3. Brian

    It's funny that so many people believe Osama is in hell when a vast majority of CNN readers don't believe in Hell. If this was a article about heaven and hell, people would be commenting that this is religious non sense. I guess when it's a bad person we want to believe there is a place called hell, but when the bible states that those who reject Jesus as their savior will not go to heaven, it's just rhetoric. How convenient.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
    • littletingod

      He's not in hell. He's fish food. I don't think fish care what he did.

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

      To a person who is true to themselves in pursuit of knowledge, The Bible is a less compelling influence than about a billion other things in this world. At some point you need to interrupt a person's natural learning process by saying "here is this book, nothing else is nearly this important, anyone who goes against it is bad" in order to make them a religious person. This interruption will throw off the person's intuitive inner senses of what is important and what is to be appreciated in real life, for the rest of their life. Astronomy? Archaeology? Physics? These are some of the real important things that put life into a powerful yet honest perspective.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
  4. Tamika

    For those who believe in God, He knows whats truly in your heart; how you really feel. So voting "no,don't celebrate" will not make you a better person, or save you at atonement on judgement day. Being a hypocrite only makes it worse.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  5. Bryan

    Maybe it should be taken into account that this man's followers flew planes into the twin towers and he was planning to organize more nightmares for our friends and loved ones. I mean seriously, when we think about why people erupted in celebration– maybe this is part of the reason???

    May 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  6. TiredODaCrap

    Are we celebrating his death, or celebrating the fact that the most notorius terrorist of our time is gone? I think you can look at it in two different ways. Whether killed, or taken prisoner, I think that the same celebration would have happened.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  7. nasnan

    the people dancing in the streets were the minority, but they only surveyed 1007 people? yep, sounds balanced to me.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  8. Patsy Ward

    I am always astounded when people quote the Old Testament .....like Proverbs 24:17. That was a different time and different mind set.....when the armies of Israel won a battle.....they didnt sit around and cry and bemoan the death and destruction of their enemy......they rejoiced in their victory. When the death of Bin Laden was announced.....people were glad that at least THIS man would no longer be a force in the army of hate that has been launched at the US......the thing to cry about????? There are too many to step in his place!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Sanjosemike

      Actually, it is hard to replace bin Laden. Even though there are others to "step into his position" , none of them have the history or charisma necessary to attract more followers.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:51 pm |
  9. chuckmartel

    I was not cheering just because I was too lazy to go to the White House. I was also busy with other stuff. I did cheer to myself though and any person having a problem with people celebrating the execution of this muslim filth are subhuman morons. The only thing I opposed was the muslim rites at his sea burial. Oh wait, I thought bin laden wasn't a muslim. Isn't that what the so called good muslims and stupid PC'ers claim?

    May 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
  10. ChrisD

    When it comes to the safety of our citizens, we need to do whatever it takes. Who took this survey?

    May 11, 2011 at 4:39 pm |
    • ChrisD

      Might I add....Pulp Fiction style.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  11. Jimmy Crack Corn

    Celebrating anyone's death is wrong. Rather it was a murderer or a hero.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
    • no

      Quit smoking crack, Jimmy

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

      Jimmy's a terrorist sympathizer!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  12. Mayhem

    An eye for an eye?

    May 11, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  13. Cdpf of Norfolk, VA

    This survey is moot. I celebrated Osama bin Laden's death because this SOB murdered OUR people in COLD BLOOD after attacking New York City; Washington, D.C; and Shanksville, PA during 9/11. And they have the nerve to say it is immoral celebrate the death of a human being who committed murder of over 2,000 people. Also the fact that he also crippled our airline industry in which many employees were killed in planes and all of the airline employees who lost their jobs at the hands of this m**********r Allah loving perverted dimwit fanatic!!!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  14. Sanjosemike

    OK, I admit that I was delighted that OBL was killed. It brought smiles to my face. It still does. I am willing to admit that you folks who don't celebrate his death are "better than me." I also suggest that you have no right to lecture me on how I should feel.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  15. Jason

    I would disagree totally. I stopped what I was doing and had a Scotch to celebrate. I think if asked the question is it right, most would say no; however, most did celebrate.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  16. Retired Army in San Antonio

    Most Americans are wrong.......when they said it was wrong to cheer BinLaden's death.

    If it's wrong to cheer his death then is/was it also wrong to cheer Hitler's death?

    Just sayin'.........

    May 11, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
    • Jimmy Crack Corn

      Americans were not Cheering Hitlers death, they were cheering defeating German's Army. Hitler's death was just a bonus, but wasn't the primary reason they were cheering.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      If bin laden and company had the relative military might of the nazi war machine, they would have made the nazi's look like boy scouts. One of the vilest pieces of filth to ever live.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  17. Maria Morris

    Just over 1,000 polled? And this is supposed to represent the 307,006,550 people in the United States? No thanks.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • SilverHair

      Science gone wild. 1+1=3.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
    • Retired Army in San Antonio

      maria......most polls sample about 1000 people......more or less......

      The trick is in knowing HOW and have the proper resources to do the sampling in order to decrease the margin of error to the lowest possible percentage.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  18. herb666

    The survey didn't ask me ... harrumph, harrumph

    May 11, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  19. Lance

    I think this survey is a crock! I know a lot of people and not one person I know would agree with this. For example my friends Mother who is Catholic, very religious, attends church several times a week, works at the church, helps feed the homeless and never swears; raised her glass that Sunday night and belted out a "thank god that SOB is dead. It's about time"! So again... This survey is a bunch of BS!

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

      A crock for sure.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • guslv

      Agree compeletly! I have yet to hear even one person express sorrow or remorse for his death! These polls are ridiculous!

      May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • TonyEEEE

      My reply above was meant for you,

      May 11, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
    • Chris R

      So they have a survey of 1,007 people and you have a survey size of 1. Obviously their survey is wrong! The percentage of people who said that it was wrong to celebrate the death of bin Laden were just lying. Right?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • 60's man

      95% of survey respondents lie to survey takers because they are ashamed of how they really feel.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:46 pm |
    • Chris R

      Also, the survey was about 'celebrating' bin Laden's death – not if they were sorry he was dead. That being said, personally I feel that killing is wrong. Period. That's all she wrote. It may be necessary sometimes but it's always wrong. It may be something that you have to do, it may be inevitable, but it's never a 'good' thing. So I'm not sorry he's dead but I don't think his killing was morally right.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • Chris R

      60's Man, did you get that number from a survey?

      May 11, 2011 at 4:49 pm |
    • 60's man

      Most important thing to note is that this survey was initiated by a religious organization calling known religious people rom church listing. No atheists were asked.

      May 11, 2011 at 4:52 pm |
    • Lance

      60's man. Well stated on your coment that this survey was conducted by a religious organization of 1007 people. Wonder how they would feekl if they had an innocent family member killed on 9-11. I sincerly doubt it!
      Chris R Your way out numbered on this. obama got what he deserved and in my opinion he died too quickly. That sob should have suffered!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Chris: You're not on the "wrong" side with this. Not a person I know "celebrated". And reading the stories of those who lost people on 9/11... they didn't celebrate either. They just missed their loved ones.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  20. alfredo fettucchinni

    is this what you call civilization?!....barbarics.

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

      I think the survey is focusing on the "public cheering" as opposed to the more solemn "justice is served." There is such a thing as being a "good winner."

      May 11, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
    • Lance

      You must be an obama sympathizer and agree that what he did was ok huh. Wake up and smell the coffee pasta boy!!!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • pasta boy

      The coffee smells good...

      Let's CELEBRATE!!!!!

      FOR THE DEATH OF THE DEVIL; FOR JUSTICE; FOR THE SWEET VICTORY; AND......

      FOR THE COFFEE!

      LONG LIVE AMERICA!

      CHEERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      May 13, 2011 at 4:21 am |
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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.