AOL poll: Opinions divided over whether slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr

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AOL poll: Opinions divided over whether slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr
FILE - In this May 27, 2011 file photo American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., poses for a photo in Boston. The parents of Foley, kidnapped in Syria more than four months ago, said Thursday April 4, 2013 that his latest disappearance is more upsetting than an earlier one in Libya because they don’t know who is holding him. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

A screen grab from a video posted to YouTube by ISIS that claims to show journalist James Foley, who was abducted in 2012 while covering the Syria civil war, being beheaded.

(YouTube)

Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston, Friday, May 27, 2011. Foley, who was working for the Boston-based GlobalPost while reporting on the conflict in Libya, was captured along with two others by Libyan government forces on April 5, 2011. Foley, American freelance journalist Clare Morgana Gillis, of New Haven, Conn., and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were released by Libyan authorities last week. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya. A Libyan government spokesman says four journalists detained since early April have completed an administrative hearing and will be released Tuesday or Wednesday.(AP Photo/GlobalPost, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 3, 2013 file photo, Diane and John Foley speak about their son, James Foley, 39, a journalist who was kidnapped in Syria by unknown gunmen on Nov. 22, 2012, during a news conference at their home in Rochester, N.H. James Foley disappeared while working for Agence France-Press in Syria. His parents do not know where he is or who is holding him. They are in Wisconsin for a Friday night, April 5, 2013 vigil for their son at Marquette University, where he studied history. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)
John and Diane Foley, parents of journalist James Foley, are photographed at their home in Rochester, N.H., Wednesday, May 18, 2011 before holding a press conference about the release of their son. James Foley, a correspondent for the Boston-based news organization Global Post, was one of four western journalists freed Wednesday by Libyan authorities in Tripoli. (AP Photo/Cheryl Senter)
Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston, Friday, May 27, 2011. Foley, who was working for the Boston-based GlobalPost while reporting on the conflict in Libya, was captured along with two others by Libyan government forces on April 5, 2011. Foley, American freelance journalist Clare Morgana Gillis, of New Haven, Conn., and Spanish photographer Manu Brabo were released by Libyan authorities last week. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
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By RYAN GORMAN

There has been a significant amount of debate over whether slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr - Pope Francis thinks he is, but AOL readers are indecisive.

Foley was, by all accounts, a devout Catholic who reportedly turned down the chance to save his life by converting to Islam. If that choice led to his death, he is indeed a martyr.

Uncertainty around that account of his final days has led to intense discourse in newspapers and blogs and on television.

An AOL News poll found a virtual tie among readers who believe the Foley either is or is not a martyr.

Of those who answered, 47 percent believe that Foley is a martyr. A further 46 percent do not think he is a martyr.

The split was a difference of only 108 votes as of Thursday morning: 3,928 in favor and 3,820 against.

Another 608 people, seven percent, voted that they are not sure.


More than 700 people commented on the poll, making it one of the most talked about articles Wednesday on AOL.

"I believe Pope Francis is on target," wrote one reader. "People like Mr. Foley are rare and special. Maybe not a Saint, but definitely a Martyr."

Many others agreed, with one person flat out saying "he refused to reject his faith. That's why he was beheaded."

Another person claimed that while Foley may very well be a martyr, it may have been a mistake for the Vatican to call him one.

Not everyone felt the same way, with one person asking: "what has this Pope been drinking?"

AOL poll: Opinions divided over whether slain American journalist James Foley is a martyr
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Parishioners wait to greet the family of James Foley after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass, offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner holds a prayer card in memory of James Foley after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass and offered prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Diane and John Foley, parents of James Foley, address the congregation during a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley attended the memorial mass and offered prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
A parishioner walks past a display of photos of James Foley before a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley are attending the memorial mass and offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
Parishioners walk past a display of photos of James Foley before a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary Parish August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. The family and friends of murdered US journalist James Foley are attending the memorial mass and offering prayers for the safety of his fellow hostages in Syria.  AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
John Foley, father of James Foley, greets supporters after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The memorial service was held for James Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
John Foley, father of James Foley, greets supporters after a Catholic mass at Our Lady of the Holy Rosary parish August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. The memorial service was held for James Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November .AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: Diane Foley receives a hug following a special mass in remembrance of her son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
Diane and John Foley, parents of journalilst James Foley, sit for a portrait at their home during an interview August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. A memorial service will be held later August 24 for Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Journalist James Foley was recently executed by Islamic militants. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: John (2nd L) and Diane Foley (2nd R) greet people following a special mass in remembrance of their son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
EDGARTOWN, MA - AUGUST 20: (AFP OUT) U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement about the execution of American journalist James Foley by ISIS terrorists in Iraq during a press briefing at the press filing center at the Edgartown School August 20, 2014 in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts. A video released shows an ISIS militant beheading Foley in what is believed to be retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. The militant then threatens the life of another American hostage, Steven Sotloff, who is also missing. (Photo by Rick Friedman-Pool/Getty Images)
Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, pauses for a moment during an interview at her home August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. A memorial service will be held later August 24 for Foley, a US journalist beheaded by Islamic State fighters after he was kidnapped in Syria in November. AFP PHOTO/DOMINICK REUTER (Photo credit should read DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: A picture stands at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
FILE - This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya. A Libyan government spokesman says four journalists detained since early April have completed an administrative hearing and will be released Tuesday or Wednesday.(AP Photo/GlobalPost, File)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
FILE - In this May 27, 2011 file photo American Journalist James Foley, of Rochester, N.H., poses for a photo in Boston. The parents of Foley, kidnapped in Syria more than four months ago, said Thursday April 4, 2013 that his latest disappearance is more upsetting than an earlier one in Libya because they don’t know who is holding him. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People attend a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
After speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama by phone, John and Diane Foley talk to reporters, Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Family friends listen as Diane and John Foley talk to reporters Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, outside their home in Rochester, N.H., after speaking with President Obama. There son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
President Barack Obama pauses as he speak in Edgartown, Mass., Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014, about the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group. The president said the US will continue to confront Islamic State extremists despite the brutal murder of journalist James Foley. Obama said the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: Pictures stand at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
ROCHESTER, NH - AUGUST 24: People enter Our Lady of the Rosary Church for a special mass in remembrance of journalist James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by ISIS Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was is retaliation for U.S. airstrikes In Iraq. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
John and Diane Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airstrikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after speaking with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014 outside their home in Rochester, N.H. Their son, James Foley was abducted in November 2012 while covering the Syrian conflict. Islamic militants posted a video showing his murder on Tuesday and said they killed him because the U.S. had launched airs trikes in northern Iraq. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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Another admitted that Foley was "the victim of a horrendous, murder by the low-life cowards that hide their faces," but that he should not be considered a martyr.

"Mr. Foley is not really a martyr. He is a murder victim," said another adamant reader.

Many people also expressed indecision over the idea.

Some said that they were not sure he is a martyr, but are certain he is not a saint.

But the one person summed up the sentiment felt by many.

"Whether he was killed because he believed in God, or because he was an American to me makes no real difference. He should have not been killed."


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