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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. Mike

    I'm not sure I am following... "What kind of person would kill an unarmed man and not allow him to stand trial?" Are you kidding me? I don't recall any of the 3000+ that have died on 9/11 being armed before they were killed. Stand trial? Were any of those 3000+ asked to stand trial before THEY were killed to determine their worthiness? Nah, they were killed anyway. I'm just saying...

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  2. asdf

    better if we try to forget about him otherwise he will remain forever as hitler has and still be able to garner little support. im okay with the cheering its just you dont want him to symbolise like terrorism and have his name in books end being like a guy who succeeded in doing the most deadliest attack. better forget and hope he will not be remembered.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  3. Mike

    I celebrate his death because he's EVIL, and this marks the end of many innocent deaths It's the first (and hopefully only) time I've ever been happy someone died, and I'm REALLY REALLY happy 🙂 The world was meant to be a peaceful place, not with people like Bin Laden.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  4. J

    To celebrate the death of a terrorist is no crime. Why not celebrate??? they celebrated when they took down the towers. If you dont want to celebrate his death then dont do it. you cant stop everyone else for doing what they want to do. Sept 11 affected everybody weather they were in new york or not. I still remeber them anouncing that we were under terroist attack while i was sitting in class to think of it sends chills down my spine.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  5. muhfuh

    We didn't shoot OBL. We shot an unidentified tall guy who turned out to be OBL. How tall are Zawahiri? Omar? Awlaki? Folks their heights now have something to worry about. Consider the following imaginary SEALs debriefing: "We shot this guy because across a dimly lit windowless room he appeared to be about as tall as Zawahiri" "And we shot this one 'cause through the fog it looked like he was approximately the same height as Omar" "And this one stuck up about as high as Awlaki, so we shot him"

    May 11, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  6. ks

    These were kids partying, Osama's demise just gave them more reason, no big deal. Why waist time pointing fingers at our nation when there are mass murdering Osama's in the making. Be patriotic and concentrate more on wiping them out. Then we can all celebrate later......

    May 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm |
  7. USAF Moore

    I will tell you all this right now. I believed our nation was becoming less "tough" for a while now. Where are all those hard working justice loving people I have served for these past 5 years. I will tell you this, I don't believe this survey one bit, I just had someone offer to buy us lunch when we were out the other day...we werent even the lucky ones that got to put the bullet in that mans head. I wanted to be that guy more then anything. I joined a 100% volunteer military, I joined in a time of war to get revenge for everyone we lost over the years by these terrorists. I dont care what anyone thinks about cheering for this mans death, this man is responsible for over 4000 of my fellow Americans deaths, we buried this man at sea so we would not hurt all the muslims feelings around the globe, but if it were up to me I would have urinated in that mans wounds while he was still alive and then buried him face down in a pile of feaces. Revenge is what I joined for and America, thats exactly what we got. I will keep fighting on, just like the others, we will never forget our fallen and our lost. We will never stop fighting.

    Nuff said.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:41 pm |
    • Troy S.

      DAMN RIGHT!!!!!

      May 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • vasechek

      then you joined for the wrong reason.
      I don't need you to be in harm's way, risking life or limb for my petty thirst for "revenge" or anyone else's (except your own). not one gray hair of those who care for you is justified by all the thirst for revenge put together. and no one has the right to do anything that will make your job and the job of others in the military 1 oz harder just because that satisfies their sick insecurities. say what you will, this is my position and it's the right one for me

      May 11, 2011 at 8:56 pm |
    • ThAvenger

      Upholding and Enforcing the Law and Justice is different from seeking Vengeance and Ritribution.

      Please don't let your ego overwhelms your sanity.

      May 13, 2011 at 3:29 am |
  8. The Wookie

    I have no problem with the Muslims and have quite a few friends. I will say that it is disingenuous of the Muslim World to condemn the cheering in the USA. We can simply roll back the video tape to all the news outlet video of Muslims and Arabs celebrating in Palestine and other Middle East countries when news broke of the WTC attack. Simple as that. You reap what you sow and cannot have it both ways.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
  9. Mike

    I celebrate his death because he's evil, and this marks the end of many innocent deaths It's the first (and hopefully only) time I've ever been happy someone died, and I'm REALLY REALLY happy 🙂 The world was meant to be a peaceful place, not with Bin Ladens.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  10. Nick

    These questions were phrased in such a biased fashion. I am pretty sure if they quote a different bible verse, "JUDGE NOT, LEST YE BE JUDGED" do you have a problem with the people who celebrated, the majority of people would say no they dont have a problem with it. It is all based on how you frame the question. Personally, I did not celebrate but I have no problem with those who did. God Bless America.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm |
  11. The Wookie

    SOB got more than he deserved. Should have put his head on a pike in the middle of Manhattan.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:36 pm |
  12. Jay

    it's def NOT WRONG!!! they celebrated 9/11 when thousands died.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  13. Jim

    The world is a better place without bin Laden, and I'm glad he is gone. If cracking open a Sam Adams at midnight on a Sunday is considered celebrating, call me immoral.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:35 pm |
  14. Joe

    These are colleg kids acting like they do at a sporting match. how have they suffered from 9/11. One girl actually went on a tirad on CNN about 9/11, the economy, etc, etc. Sounds like the US kids need a scapegoat. Shamefull behavior by kids who probably had no real impact. I live near ground zero. Have lived with the towers from their creation. It took me years to accept that they were gone. And I still cant see this rejoicing by non involved kids.

    This is not a football match. idiots.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:31 pm |
    • al

      We are all involved Joe, even if you were born after 9/11. This is America, we are one country united under the same flag sticking to the principles the founding fathers set forth. Do you think the founding fathers would have celebrated a mass murders death?? I have to think so. Maybe if Osama killed a few senators, governors, or even our president it would be okay then to celebrate right? But just a few thousand normal American's on one day and thousands of troops after that die and we can't celebrate the man dying? Osama is no different than Hitler and Hussein and the country celebrated their deaths. I for one am glad he is dead and wish that he had not died as quickly as he did.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • vasechek

      please, don't hide your twisted morality and flawed logic behind the founding fathers. you have no leg to stand on there.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:56 pm |
    • SubHuman

      Vasechek

      you said,
      "you have no leg to stand on there."

      I say, No wonder you're crawling at the parade.

      May 13, 2011 at 3:23 am |
  15. Linda

    How many of the 60% who agreed with Prov 24:17 attend church every weekend, study the Bible on a regular basis, maintain a relationship with a church leader, or are paying members of a denomination.

    I thought so.

    Just saying.

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

    Try asking this on Sept 12th.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  17. Billy

    Funny so many Muslims on this blog complain about Cheering, for killing #1 Terrorist. They sure do NOT complain when the cheering is in Afghanistan and Pakistan for 9/11, 26/11, 7/7 and so many and that too for killing Innocent Children / Men / Women. It shows Which Side Are They On? Hmmm....

    May 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  18. the infidel

    I don't think there is anything wrong with celebrating the death of Osama, because when you do, you are actually not celebrating the death of a "person", but rather the death of the embodiment of evil and the long overdue retribution for the crimes committed against innocent civilians by a confessed and unrepentant murderer. The US didn't declare war on Osama – he declared it on the US (and the West) long before 9/11 and we were fighting BACK, not instigating the fight. (he obviously picked a fight with the wrong opponent, but it is not our fault). Second, Osama's crimes and his evil intentions (or "will" if you may) have long stripped him of the attributes of a truly human person, save for the anatomical parts and bodily functions. He became a tumor on the body of humanity, and our celebrations are for the removal of this cancer from our collective heart. Good riddance!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:29 pm |
  19. the Ryan

    After years of them extremists and terrorists cheering and burning our flag and yelling death to america allah is great HELL YEAH we should celeberate UBL death!!! Its our time to gloat baby. We swept your A$$ Bin Laden!!! Woohoo!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • vasechek

      sub-human parade crawls on...

      May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
  20. blah blah

    OBL is the face to modernized terrorism... the face is gone.. time to cheer. The people that say that we should cheer should be sent over to see one of their bothers in arms die, then tell me you wouldnt cheer when they got that SOB. This nation is built on life and death. We wouldnt be sittin here today talkin about this BS if people didnt die.. OBL is dead.. so i cheer. he got what he deserved. SEMPER FI!!!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:28 pm |
    • USAF Moore

      I will tell you all this right now. I believed our nation was becoming less "tough" for a while now. Where are all those hard working justice loving people I have served for these past 5 years. I will tell you this, I don't believe this survey one bit, I just had someone offer to buy us lunch when we were out the other day...we werent even the lucky ones that got to put the bullet in that mans head. I wanted to be that guy more then anything. I joined a 100% volunteer military, I joined in a time of war to get revenge for everyone we lost over the years by these terrorists. I dont care what anyone thinks about cheering for this mans death, this man is responsible for over 4000 of my fellow Americans deaths, we buried this man at sea so we would not hurt all the muslims feelings around the globe, but if it were up to me I would have urinated in that mans wounds while he was still alive and then buried him face down in a pile of feaces. Revenge is what I joined for and America, thats exactly what we got. I will keep fighting on, just like the others, we will never forget our fallen and our lost. We will never stop fighting.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:40 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.