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


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?"

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."

What We Know About James Foley
What We Know About James Foley

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