A recent posting on a popular atheist website highlighted the sordid history of torture in the name of the Christian religion. The use of torture by Christians — or anyone, for that matter — to motivate people to change their beliefs, admit they hold heretical beliefs or convince them to change their religion is all but incomprehensible today. Who could imagine, for example, a chamber in the basement of the corner church where parishioners would have their thumbs crushed unless they recanted their support for gay marriage, or gave up their belief in infant baptism?

The posting, which included a most engaging and disturbing collection of photos of torture devices, asked a simple question: “Catholics, this used to be the business of your church, and not just in Europe. How much pain would have been spared had there not been faith?”
The responders, with some notable exceptions, were clearly sympathetic. “Religion at its finest” noted one. Another responded with a simple, if curious, “Delightful.”

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