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. Whatever

    So, 62% of Americans are wrong. And according to President Obama on 60 minutes, should get their heads examined.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:16 pm |
  2. Steve

    I was happy when I heard the news, I felt that he got what he deserved. My brother was sitting at his desk when the first plane hit. Thank God he got out. Not all in his company made it. He cannot forget the look on the firemen faces as they went up the stairs while everyone else went down.

    I had a drink to toast our troops, so many have died because of his actions.

    Was there cheering when Hitler was pronounced dead? I'm sure.

    Don't beat Americans up for celebrating. What about the Republicans who's first reaction was strictly political. It was good for Obama so the Repubs couldn't fully support it.

    Is there anything more unAmerican than that?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  3. Sam

    Of course we should be happy he's dead and I see nothing wrong with cheering about it. He personified evil and while I don't believe in hell I have no problem if he joins Hitler in a personal 2 man hell.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  4. Scott

    All you do-gooders who hide behind 'fair trial' and 'injustice' WAKE UP. I walk into 7-11's and mini-marts and high-five and gloat about his death. I'm glad he's dead, proud of the Navy Seals, and proud to be an American, born and bred.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
    • Newto

      So you basically discriminate and hate people based on their ethnicity? So all 7-11 employees that are not white are to be mistreated?
      You just helped prove the survey correct that ignorant people like you that went out to celebrate are no better then the haters on the other side. Ignorance really is bliss.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  5. Serious

    Celebrate the victory (if you believe we are victorious), the sucessful mission. Do not celebrate the death of the enemy. It's two different things. I am more concerned with the fact that Americans actually believe this is a win in a war on an enemy that is nothing more than a concept. How will we ever know this "war on Terror" is over? Will terror surrender?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  6. JohnRJ08

    Look at this picture of these fools in front of the White House. What did they think this was? A football game? They probably weren't even ten years old on 9/11, yet they're acting like they were at Ground Zero that day. I take that back. Nobody who was at Ground Zero that would act this juvenile.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  7. Kerry M. Berger

    I too agree that to celebrate OBL's death is the wrong thing to do. It only makes us look as barbaric as some of the videos we saw of Palestinians dancing and celebrating in the streets when 9/11 occurred. Knowing one's enemy so that we can take down his organization is one thing; Making this into entertainment news, which CNN has been doing, is down right disgusting.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
    • Whatever

      Not the same thing mindless twit. They celebrated the deaths of thousands of innocent victims by an act of terror. We celebrated the justice done when the murderer was sent to his final resting place in hell. No moral equivalence here. If you can't see the difference, then you are dumber than a piece of toast.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • vasechek

      there are differences, there are similarities. both are inherently destructive, neither serves any useful purpose and in the end both are celebrating death like it's scoring a goal in some game neglecting to see that death and misfortune of the other will not right the wrongs and will not stop (might actually increase) death and misfortune of self.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:34 pm |
  8. Steve

    I have to disagree – It's a great thing he's gone. That guy was bad beyond belief and incurred great loss of life as well as big financial problems for the economy. I know it doesn't solve all problems, but that guy won't be killing any more, he won't be ruining my retirement fund any more. And what about Hitler – people can't be happy when someone like that dies? To each his own – but I will celebrate. And if you don't feel like celebrating – no worries, I won't push my views on you – you can not celebrate in peace.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  9. Lou50

    get over it, the 3000 at WTC, Pentagon and PA crash and their children they never had are not cheering either. does that off set the ones that shouldn't be out in public?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
  10. John

    should be partying in the streets

    May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  11. Chris

    i'm ok withe cheering, but it was wrong to give that subhuman a "proper burial"

    May 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm |
  12. Wise Old Man

    I would very much like to celebrate the killing of George W Bush. He is far more evil than Osama Bin Laden. He personally ordered the deaths of tens of thousands innocent Iraqis. Hopefully I will get my wish someday.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
    • Chris

      Obama stood on the Bush Administraition's shoulders and gave the order to kill OBL

      May 11, 2011 at 5:06 pm |
    • TRouble

      Put up a poll right now CNN!!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:17 pm |
    • Ed

      There is absolutely no Widom in your post, Old Man.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:27 pm |
  13. JamesC

    I too was disgusted with the cheering. I felt that a moment of reflection on the madness of the last 10 years would have served us better. The US military is estimated to have killed 250,000 innocent people in the Iraqi and Afghanistan invasions. That's innocent people. There are no easy answers to all the ethical dilemnas involved but idiotic triabalism isn't the answer.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  14. Seriously?

    1007 people surveyed? really? That qualifies as most americans?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm |
  15. Blogson

    Those who celebrate bin Laden's death because he was responsible for many deaths need to remember that the U.S. with its invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and other military and drone-activated activities, etc. has been responsible for the deaths and wounding of many thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, more than bin Laden was. And the U.S. continues to try to enforce its will in countries and regions where people simply want to be left alone to determine their own destinies without outside imperialism being enforced upon them.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:02 pm |
    • ME

      Oh, you're serious. Let me laugh even harder.

      "simply want to be left alone"? The radicals' definition of "left alone" is that INFIDELS DON'T EXIST EXCEPT AS CHATTAL.

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

      The Bible says "an eye for an eye." I say hip hip hooray if they really got him.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:22 pm |
  16. Dan

    I'm pretty happy he's gone. If he wanted to be taken alive he should have turned himself in. I think Charlie said it best,"duh,winning".

    May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
  17. Melvin

    I celebrated right in my living room, jumping up and down, yelling USA, USA, USA and felted great about it and still do. Obama got Osama; repeat after me Obama got Osama.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:00 pm |
    • Melissa

      no obama sat behind a computer while the soldiers who he almost didn't pay got Osama.....Obama does not get the credit

      May 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • amjp


      May 11, 2011 at 5:12 pm |
    • Roger

      Melissa – Not since Washington has a president led the way......Silly girl (Tea party girl that is)

      May 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Tab

      I agree with Melissa. Our soldiers got Osama not Obama, that is if this isn't a ploy to try to build Obama up for re-election. God knows I didn't vote for him the first time and won't the next time. Maybe Donald Trump shook him up a bit. Obama You're fired!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:19 pm |
    • CM

      I love how you teaparty whack jobs blame everything bad on Obama but give him no credit for anything good. You are just a bunch of racist backward trailer trash who don't get out much!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:29 pm |
    • vasechek

      that a boy, CM. way to treat your fellow compatriots with a different opinion.

      May 12, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
  18. JZEE

    I agree it was wrong to cheer his death. However, it would great to capture him alive, tie him up like Roman Empire tie Jesus and parade Bin Laden in NY time square. It would be cool!

    May 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • movieguy300

      OBL got what he deserved, plain and simple. While I didn't cheer in the streets, I did give my wife a fist pump when we heard the news. Bin Laden got off a hell of a lot easier than the victims of 9/11 or other events that he and his motley crew ordered. He at least got to see it coming, which is more than any one of the other victims of the various attacks got.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
  19. OGE

    I have no knowledge of statistical methods and all these obviously scientific-minded people ON THE INTERNET disagree with the study, so OBVIOUSLY it is a flawed study.

    May 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
  20. Bresson

    When I saw the crowds cheering last Sunday night at the White House and in NY, all I could think is "we are better than that".

    May 11, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • Bobby

      and all i could think of was the World, not just the US is a better place.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • jlsr

      You could not be more correct, my friend! I thought the same thing.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm |
    • jlsr

      My comment was in response to Bresson's comment.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:08 pm |
    • JohnRJ08

      I think most of us are "better than that". These juveniles climbing trees in front of the White House are not representative of the country. You can bet that the people who hated Bin Laden the most– the people who lost loved ones on 9/11– didn't respond to his death by jumping around like a bunch chimpanzees.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Newto

      I agree Bresson. We are not animals like the 9/11 perpetrators and those in the middle east that celebrated the collapse of the twin towers on 9/11. We lowered ourselves to their level. But then again those mostly drunk people that were celebrating were young kids that know nothing about war and death.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:16 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.