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. charlie888888

    At last a glimpse of humanity in the US repsonse,

    May 11, 2011 at 9:09 pm |
  2. Larry

    I think this survey is incredibly skewed seeing as the majority of people who agree with celebrating Osama's death were still outside celebrating Osama's death when your pimple faced newsboy phoned our homes for this BS survey.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  3. TripleA

    I’m not celebrating OBL's death. It just looks that way when I drink a toast to Navy SEAL Team Six, the crews of the choppers on the raid, and to the intelligence teams who tracked him down like the mangy dog he was. It’s not celebrating when I whoop, holler, smile and laugh when I see stories of OBL getting plugged, and then dumped overboard with the rest of the trash. And I’m not rewarding the President who got him with my vote next election, regardless of his party. Nah, I’m not celebrating OBL death. Not much.

    May 11, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
  4. DaveinSC

    Well, I have no problem celebrating the death of this person at all. The problem is that there are quite a number of americans who are to worried about being politically correct to even live. Suck it up and grow a pair, and quit being such whiney-a** people.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  5. (required)

    That survey does not sound very accurate considering all the celebrating we have been doing!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  6. mariosphere

    Surveys like this tend to be biased and manipulative. Come back, Jerry Springer!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. sharky

    I am glad he is dead, but I am not going to go and cheer in the streets over it. I also know at the same time his death will mean very little in the long run as just because he is dead does not mean this mess is over with. Never will be over. Just means one figure head is dead, but another will take his place.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  8. U.R. Way Off Base

    60%n disapprove? Not according to the many forums I've visited.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Jeff

      Yeah, it's usually the rabid morons who post the most frequently on internet forums. Those who advocate restraint (like not gloating over the death of someone) do not post as often on internet forums, they just quietly go about their business.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
  9. John Richardson

    People who think torture is justified are simply nothing less than monsters. I guess if you think a loving god will torture, eg, every Jewish grandmother for all eternity, you'll conclude waterboarding is no big deal. But it's a huge deal and the torture practi-tioners in the Bush administration and their defenders have done more to drag this country down than any of its enemies ever have or even could.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • sharky

      I'm curious, are you pleased or displeased that Bin Laden is dead?

      May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Alexandra

      Well, actually, since the Christian god tortures non-Christians for eternity it's hardly surprising that his followers revel in the use of torture as well.

      May 12, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  10. Mike

    I'M STIIILLLLLLLLL CELEBRATING !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
    • vasechek

      someone give this kid a diaper

      May 11, 2011 at 9:28 pm |
  11. Steve

    Will people cheer when Charles Manson dies? Undoubtedly. What is truly disturbing, is how powerful the media has become at distributing propaganda. We are being offered black acid, and most of us eat it up without even asking what it is. We live in a time, where the 1% of the worlds population that owns 99% of the worlds wealth are trying to construct a new world order based on lies and deception. They have the resources to do it and they are the biggest threat to the free world.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:11 pm |
  12. Mike

    This survey is so unrealistic, I guarantee it was taken in Pakistan or the questions were misleading. I personally brought out the American flag and cracked a cold brew when I heard the OUSTANDING news!

    Have I ever celebrated prior to May 1 when someone died, nope. Did I celebrate like crazy when I knew bin Laden was dead? You better believe it!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:05 pm |
    • SDN

      "This survey is so unrealistic, I guarantee it was taken in Pakistan.." Thanks for your sage analysis.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
  13. al

    How dare anyone give people who celebrate this mass murders death grief. How dare you try and make this about yourself or how you or your kids feel. This country is bigger then you and your family. We have every right to celebrate this murders death without self righteous people like you turning it into an issue. The issue is a coward who killed over 3000 Americans on one day from the comfort of his sofa and you dare change it from that to our wrong doing? That's sickening. Go tell my 3 cousins and aunt who have every right to celebrate the death of the man who killed their father and husband they should not cheer, tell that to my uncles grand children he never got to meet too! And make sure you stop by the mess decks and tell all the Chiefs that even though their Navy brother (my uncle) died in the Pentagon on 9/11, they should not cheer he has been avenged. Go back to your PTA meetings and keep your mouth shut.

    May 11, 2011 at 7:04 pm |
    • Mike

      AGREED! It's a GREAT thing that SOB is dead.

      May 11, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
    • Proud American

      When did this become a referendum on the PTA?

      May 11, 2011 at 8:15 pm |
  14. TMAC

    Survey: Most Americans say it's wrong to celebrate bin Laden's death... Only 62% of THOSE SURVEYED. Ask the WHOLE country- EVERY American... I am certain that number will change! If you do not like the United States and the freedom you enjoy here at the cost of the lives and sacrifices of our Service Men and Women, go live in Pakistan or anywhere else for that matter! Toodles! Don't let the door hit you in the rear on the way out!

    May 11, 2011 at 7:00 pm |
    • laboom

      I dont agree witht he findings of the poll but please learn how statistics work...

      May 11, 2011 at 8:08 pm |
  15. 2011judgment

    The day will come when the majority of Americans will wish for the Death of Barack H. Obama.

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

      Well I won't be one of them. I am a harsh critic of our leaders, but I think Barack is doing a great job. We need him as our leader, the country is on its way UP finally.

      May 11, 2011 at 7:08 pm |
  16. Prometheus

    When I celebrated the death of OBL I wasn't celebrating the death of another human being...simple.

    (BTW...I think your survey is a WAYYYY more than +/-3% off...just sayin')

    May 11, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • (required)

      well said

      May 11, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  17. Anderson

    If you use the pool of people providing feedback in this blog, you will see that the supporters of celebrating Bin Laden's death is much, much higher than 40%. That means your survey is biased and a big pile of BS.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
    • Not True

      Using the feedback as a poll would not be an accurate representation of America. Instead, it would be more biased than the survey in the blog.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
  18. Nick


    May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Actually

      Ironically, you're point of view illustrates exactly why it's the same thing.

      You call the 3000 people in NYC "innocent", and Osama "evil", yet the supports of Osama call the 3000 people in NYC "evil", and Osama is a "hero" to them.

      So really, you're just the other flip side of a coin, the terrorists and people with your point of view. If we want to separate ourselves and be considered "civilized" society, we should never engage in celebration of someone's death. The killing of an enemy, no matter how important, should be considered necessary, but not joyful. The real tragedy is that people like Osama do want to kill us and fight our way of life so vehemently, it's because of their misjudgements and misguided views that we have all this killing going on. That's not anything to be celebrated on either side...

      May 11, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Simplton

      @ Actually – Your flip side theses IS true. Both you and Nick fail to touch on the bigger picture. First, Americans are on the first side, denouncing terrorism, as are many countries about had enough of a constant threat to them. When you add "who drew first blood," they say our freedoms, money, desire for resources and women's rights and so – on are filth. So they came in OUR yard first to KILL as a solution. They have made perfectly clear they will not stop killing.
      America has been drug through hell, trillions of dollars in cat and mouse war, loss of our own freedoms to our own government in order to try to protect us, and an overall doom and gloom we could not seem to even accomplish our initial task to cut of the head of a drastic snake.
      WELL< WE DID ............ When we celebrate, is it about the "death"? his bloody body, ending his soles physical connection on earth? OR is it a "MILESTONE FIRST STEP" of a great hardship on America that was being encouraged by Bin Laden. I celebrate the END of gridlocked frustration – 10 years of a nation under siege to a ghost. Now the Ghost is just that. YEA!

      May 11, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
    • charlie888888

      But still profoundly unchristian and in contradiction to what america claims to stand for,
      Bin Laden distorts the Koran and US distorts the Bible.
      Terrorists win when civilized societies stoop to their values.
      By that definition the US is losing it's war on terrorism whilst the UK won it's war with the IRA by upholidng it's principes no matter the cost. (and yes some of that cost is in innocent lives, but no more than the innocents lost in the US attacks around the world.).

      May 11, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
    • JDinFLA


      Ironically, you're point of view illustrates exactly why it's the same thing.

      The 3000 people in NYC were "innocent", and Osama "evil", it's a twisted view point so flip side of a coin, or not terrorists come in all forms even homegrown which we are no strangers too. We are a clearly separated civilized society that allow rights for all, including woman, as it is true we should never engage in celebration of someone's death every society has their share of those that do immoral things and thats the human condition, we are no more joyful than we are confident that no matter the resolve of people like Osama who want to kill us and fight our way of life so vehemently, we will respond with the necessary force and their really aren't any misjudgements and misguided views on our part – we want to live free and at peace with all nations – I certainly celebrate that.

      May 11, 2011 at 9:58 pm |
  19. 2011judgment

    Osama Bin laden deserve to die, but most Americans are so "blinded" that they do not comprehend that a far worse enemy is leading the Nation.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:51 pm |
    • Buffoon

      Right, bitter 2008 election loser! It shows!

      May 11, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
  20. Stephen

    What really disgusts me is that Muslims do not criticize, even in free countries, the extremists and the terrorists. I'm getting to where I think Islam is Islam, it's just diabolical and insidious. Most folks are just less willing to blow up things than others, that's all.

    May 11, 2011 at 6:49 pm |
    • Proud American

      Many, many Muslims in this country (a free country by the way) do in fact criticize the terrorists and the extremists. And reasonable people don't make good press copy.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • Simplton

      AND Talk about Celebration, again not glorifying death but a milestone, MUSLIMS are likely relieved as well! – Since radical Islamists have been making "their" lives difficult, under a microscope and appearing by actions of the few as though they were their own. Most Muslims may not "Celebrate" but might certainly be relieved.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • Jeff

      Many Muslims do criticize. I hate it when people use their own ignorance to self-validate their own worldviews.

      May 11, 2011 at 8:50 pm |
    • Dexter Skagway

      Actually, the Lebanese film "Under The Bombs" does condemn Hezbollah for having incited the war.

      May 11, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
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.