TORTURE AND THE RELIGIOUS RIGHT…. We haven’t heard too much from the religious right on the debate over Bush’s torture policies, which is something of a surprise since the movement is trying to reassert its relevance in Republican politics. How do the self-appointed arbiters of morality view torture?

Well, it’s a mixed bag. The Southern Baptist Convention’s Richard Land, to his credit, is on the side of angels on this issue. Christianity Today reported, “Land explained that while he supports capital punishment for convicted killers, he denounces torture in all cases because he’s compelled to honor the image of God as reflected in all human beings.” Land added that he rejects the notion that the ends justify the means, adding, “[T]hat is a very slippery slope that leads to dark and dangerous places.”

And on the flip-side, there’s Gary Bauer.

Gary Bauer, a former Republican presidential candidate affiliated with several Christian right groups over the years, said the discussion should not come down to “Would Jesus torture?”

“There are a lot of things Jesus wouldn’t do because he’s the son of God,” he said. “I can’t imagine Jesus being a Marine or a policeman or a bank president, for that matter. The more appropriate question is, ‘What is a follower of Jesus permitted to do?’”

Bauer said the answer is “it depends” — but the moral equation changes when the suspect is not a soldier captured on a battlefield but a terrorist who may have knowledge of an impending attack. He said he does not consider water-boarding — a form of interrogation that simulates drowning — to be torture.

“I think if we believe the person we have can give us information to stop thousands of Americans from being killed, it would be morally suspect to not use harsh tactics to get that information,” Bauer said.

Got that? It would be morally suspect not to think the ends justify the means, according to this prominent Christian conservative leader.

Something to keep in mind the next time the religious right is lecturing the rest of us about our moral depravity.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.