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. Stephen

    I should have known this would be belief / faith blog material. Consider the source; I read this for more entertainment than anything else. There is not much here that is remotely relevant or resembling anything serious or intellectually honest in nature. But this particular article is outright disreputable. Or is it a joke?

    May 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
  2. JD

    We didn't celebrate Osama's death. We are thankful the mission was accomplished. And as far as his family demanding an investigation: get over it and move on!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  3. Tom Taylor

    This survey must have been taken in the Middle East. This is as bogus as you can get. Why should we be surprised it is CNN>
    If I would have had a case of Dom, it would have been opened and my entire neighborhood would have been invited to help us celebrate and they all would have shown up!!!

    When there is something so very evil as he ( WAS-man, that makes me feel good-typing in WAS) it should be removed and celebrated. This guy killed 3000 Americans!

    Hip Hip Hooray!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  4. Muneef

    Strange if find that you people do not believe the unseen as to the existence of God and Angels although all the ancient books told? But find you here all believe some thing not seen and celebrate it ?? Meaning have you seen it was he? Have you seen that he was killed? Have you seen that it was him inside the bag that was droped from the helicopter ?? Do not tell me that you would believe in some thing that was prepared by a Photoshop application?? Only God knows the truth of things.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • Artist

      Time will tell. If Osama is alive then I guess the burden is on him to prove us wrong. I wonder if there will still be people thinking Osama is alive in 2000 years?

      May 11, 2011 at 6:04 pm |
    • Muneef


      You mean as a Legend ?
      Well what I meant was that he might be still alive but with them under their custody? Some one once joked and said he will be having a new face transplant and live under the witness protection plan or program...? With intelligence you never know what the truth is...!

      May 11, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  5. reader10

    What is wrong with CNN.I am sure that the silent majority is cheering too.Is Eric Marrapodi a Moslim? They like to deny.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • steven harnack

      Is "the silent majority" code for those people who have never had any thought deeper than eat,sleep, defecate, and what's on tv?

      May 11, 2011 at 6:19 pm |
  6. amarjit

    It was not cheering the death of an individual. It was elimination of the cause of death of thousands of people on 911, 611 & other deaths occurring due to his motivation & mobilization. Accused & accomplice are equally given return of their crimes on earth on in heaven & paradise such people get respite or reprieve. Those thinking that way need to reorient ate their perception of civilized world & living within law under which they expect trial & treatment class.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • vasechek

      great logic. so now those who died on 911 et al died without cause. Hooray!!!! where's ma beer?

      May 11, 2011 at 6:15 pm |
    • Vasechek'Sr.

      NO NO! beer! here's your milk and go back to bed. Oh! wait!! I almost forgot, tell your mom to change your diaper first.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  7. name

    I cheered. He didn't deserve a trial, he admitted his guilt and lead one of the biggest terror organizations in the world. He cheered when thousands of innocent peopled died on 9/11 and would never have been satisfied with even that. I didn't cheer for the loss of a human life, I cheered for one less evil person in the world.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  8. Tim

    My only hope is that some day the video of his demise will come out for all to see. That will be a great day.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:54 pm |
  9. Tim

    "We've been watching these numbers on torture for a while now"

    Liberals define torture like they define marriage, or when life begins, or jobs saved or created, or etc. etc. etc.. They define terms to suit their needs.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:51 pm |
    • steven harnack

      And conservatives don't have any definitions or opinions until Beck or Limbaugh tells them what it is. And beck and Limbaugh don't have any opinions until they hear what the liberals think so they can be against it. Their theme song is by the Marx Bothers. A little ditty called "Whatever It Is, I'm Against It".

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

      so, which one is less destructive to this nation?

      May 12, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
    • Vasechek'Sr.

      Son, how many times I told you not to meddle in an adult conversation.

      Here's your lollipop and go to bed but don't forget to brush your teeth!

      May 13, 2011 at 4:37 am |
  10. Joel

    Just how did they word this poll? I can guarantee the poll was neither fair nor impartial. As far as I know I have not yet met anyone ...anyone who was not celebrating in some fashion at the news of OBLs passing into hell. As to their poll on torture it is again flawed. Any parent would justify torture on their childrens' kidnapper to get information leading to the return of their children. These polls are a bunch of BS. That is 100% truth.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:50 pm |
  11. Neophillic

    Folks, we did not celebrate the death of Bin Laden, we as young Americans celebrated a victory over Evil. Osama, an evil person and terrorist, who killed thousands of innocent Americans, was found and terminated, just like our grandparents celebrated the victory over Hitler's evil regime.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • vasechek

      so to you it was a video game and you "won"......
      wonderful... so happy for you...

      May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • Vasechek'Sr.

      Son, turn off that computer and quit playing Ninja Wars.

      Do your homework and study well that you may pass 2nd grade.

      May 13, 2011 at 4:32 am |
  12. Gary

    How many middle-easterners and pakistanis celebrated when the twin towers came down killing 3000+ ? I'm just askin?

    May 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
    • spongekill

      Right, and should we be using their behavior as a standard against which to hold our own?

      May 11, 2011 at 5:56 pm |
  13. Truthwillsetyoufree

    Cheering it just shows we are no different than the other guys... Feeling some relief is better.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  14. Tim

    Count me in, this is party time.

    One question to all you do-good-liberals. How is it not o.k. to waterboard someone in an attempt to gather critical information but it is o.k. to shoot an unarmed man that is no imminent danger to anyone in the face? I know you are intellectually superior to all of us conservatives, so I'm just asking on other's behalf for you to explain it to us. We're simpletons and don't understand.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
    • James Taylor

      WEll I am not a left winger or liberal. Maybe like you but you sound a bit dumb. Lets put it this way, if you go overseas and they arrest you and, even if you are innocent of any crimes or no, they water boarding you that is totally wrong under ALL international LAWS. No just the USA.
      Now if yo go to a foreign land and killed from one to 3,000 innocent folks then MORE POWER TO THEM. I would go there myself and pull the trigger to ad one more hole into your dumb head.
      As a Rep I gotta say OBAMA GOT OSAMA!! Bush invaded the wrong nation and due to him over 8,000 US soldiers are dead and over 700,000 innocent Iraqis are dead. That is a crime against humanity!

      May 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm |
    • steven harnack

      At least your last sentence shows that you have a glimmer of understanding, a little self-awareness.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
    • Wildfire

      My sentiments exactly!

      May 11, 2011 at 6:10 pm |
  15. BRB

    I think the author of this article could find a much more accurate portrayal of how American's feel about osama's death from this comments section rather than the quack survey he's talking about...

    May 11, 2011 at 5:47 pm |
  16. canadiangirl

    I believe the American's have every right to celebrate their victory. Many innocent lives were taken and remain as scars and sadness for some people, and for a nation forever.

    Is this to say that the Allies should not have been happy about Hitler's death?

    I don't see anything wrong with their celebration. Good job U.S.A !

    May 11, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  17. Dan

    Here is my take on this whole issue.

    Bing bong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead.
    Bing bong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead.
    Bing bong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead.
    Bing bong, the witch is dead, the witch is dead, the witch is dead.
    (I wish there was a way to enter musical notes in this field).

    May 11, 2011 at 5:44 pm |
    • JoeD

      ♫ ♪♫
      Press & hold "alt" then press "13" or "14" then release the "alt" key.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:57 pm |
    • Wildfire

      I agree, but I believe it is "Ding-dong"

      May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
  18. Carol Ranes

    Obviously didn't survey me! You go NAVY Seals! Glad you got him! Glad he is dead! Great job!!!!

    May 11, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  19. complete BS

    Every person on earth felt better about it and I they celebrated all over the world

    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
  20. guest

    So it is ok for Americans to "celebrate" and cheer this individuals death (and believe me I think he deserved to die), but those who live in the Middle East and respond similarly to some hardship or in reaction to the US are branded heathens and should be eradicated? (I am over simplifying and summing up many of the comments I have seen posted). Doesn't that just stink of hypocrisy?

    Celebrating any individuals death is wrong, and those who did so maybe should have spent a little more time in contemplation of all (not just Americans) who have lost their lives in the past 10 years, starting with those who perished on 9/11.

    May 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm |
    • B-Dog

      That people lack the logic or common sense to see that celebrating the death of a mass murderer and celebrating the death of 3,000 INNOCENT people are two different things just makes me sad for this country.

      May 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm |
    • Jesus

      The US should have a day of celebration!

      May 11, 2011 at 6:06 pm |
    • Thirsty

      I think a big problem is we are using the word "death" to describe Osama's demise. The correct word would be murder or execution. Don't get me wrong I am no Bin laden fan but, he didn't just die he was killed. To celebrate death is fine, death is a natural part of life, but to celebrate killing is just kind of sad regardless of who it is.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:08 pm |
    • beth

      I agree with you.I am glad he is gone but do't like the yelling and chanting like we did. I was hoping we would be better than how other countries act. Just my own opinion.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:09 pm |
    • bedesigner

      Agree... We should celebrate lives... not death. If American celebrate the death of Osama... then we are no different than them. Yes, he deserved to die, but he was also a human who deserved a fair trial.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:13 pm |
    • BigSur

      There is a perspective stated by Bin Laden, that the evil people are Americans and Israelis and the innocent people are Palestinians, and those killing for moral reasons, Al Queda. So, we in the US who feel bad about the 3,000 innocent people dying at the hands of the evil one, Al Queda, perhaps see things from a different perspective.

      May 11, 2011 at 6:14 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.