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Shane Claiborne: Christians are why the death penalty lives on

The gurney in the death chamber is shown in this May 27, 2008 file photo from Huntsville, Texas. Texas has held more executions than any other state in recent years. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan)

(RNS) — With America’s next executions scheduled for Thursday (Aug. 9) in Tennessee and next week (Aug. 14) in Nebraska, there couldn’t have been a better time for Pope Francis to wholeheartedly denounce the death penalty — and for Christians worldwide to double down on their commitment to end it.

Last Thursday (Aug. 2), Pope Francis, backed by bishops around the world, declared the death penalty unacceptable in all cases, calling executions “an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person.” He made it the official doctrine of the Catholic Church, changing the catechism to fully oppose the death penalty, without exception. He also invited Christians around the world to prioritize ending the death penalty. This is a big deal.

Christians have a long history with the death penalty, going all the way back to A.D. 33, when the Roman Empire crucified Jesus. While Catholics haven’t always lived up to the catechism’s ideals, this document still provides a crucial ethical foundation.

Prior to the pronouncement, the official Catholic position on capital punishment allowed for execution only when it is “the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.” That allowed enough of a loophole for many Christian politicians to opt out of the movement to end capital punishment.

Here’s why the timing is so significant: Even as the number of executions in the U.S. decreases nearly every year, and death sentences are the lowest they have been in 40 years, some states are still trying to keep the death penalty alive.

The wild thing is this: Those states are largely led by Christian politicians. Eighty-five percent of executions in the past 40 years have taken place in the Bible Belt. This means the Bible Belt is the death belt in America.

Billy Ray Irick, who is on death row for raping and killing a 7-year-old girl in 1985, appears in a Knoxville, Tenn., courtroom on Aug 16, 2010. Irick’s execution is scheduled for Aug. 9, 2018. (AP Photo/Michael Patrick)

Wherever Christians are most concentrated in America is where the most executions have taken place. While we Christians have prided ourselves on being pro-life on the issue of abortion, too often we have proven ourselves to be anti-life when it comes to capital punishment. The truth is that the death penalty has survived not in spite of Christians but because of them.

Some exceptional Christians such as Mother Teresa, Pope Benedict and Martin Luther King Jr. have opposed the death penalty. But older, predominantly white Christians have provided the moral foundation and theological backbone for defending the death penalty in America.

The death penalty is flourishing under governors who profess to follow Jesus. A string of executions is scheduled in Tennessee, where the governor is Bill Haslam, a devout Christian. Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts is a Catholic who spent his own money to put the death penalty back on the ballot. In Texas, where more than one-third of all executions in America have occurred since 1976, the governor is Greg Abbott, a Catholic.

Heroic Christians and others around the country have been working state by state to abolish the death penalty, and with success from Connecticut to Illinois. Nearly every year for the past several years, another state abolishes the death penalty.

Many of us have hoped the Supreme Court would end the death penalty as societal standards evolve. There would be precedent for that. Court action led to the abolition of certain forms of punishment, such as hanging. It also abolished execution for minors and people with mental illness. Furthermore, four of the current Supreme Court justices are Catholic: Justices Roberts, Alito, Thomas and Sotomayor. Now-retired Justice Kennedy is also Catholic.

President Trump’s newest nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, is Catholic. And Trump’s first appointee, Neil Gorsuch, was raised Catholic and is now Episcopalian. That’s why the timing of Pope Francis’ statement could not be better.

If the Supreme Court justices, the Catholic governors and the Christian Senators of our country will embrace the teachings of their faith, they will be part of making history by making the death penalty history.

Pope Francis listens to his message being delivered in several languages during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, on March 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

And this is a moment when we need courage.

It does not take courage to say that slavery is wrong a generation after we have ended it. It takes courage to say that slavery is wrong when it is still legal and socially acceptable. So it is with the death penalty. I believe we will look back at the death penalty a generation from now just like we look back at slavery: with horror and shame, wondering how we ever thought it was OK and how we used the Bible to justify it.

This revision of the catechism makes it clear that the Catholic Church no longer has ethical room for the death penalty. Killing is the problem, not the solution. We cannot kill to show that killing is wrong. And we have ways of protecting innocent people from someone who is dangerous without killing dangerous people.

This is good news to millennial Christians, about 80 percent of whom oppose the death penalty. And it is good news to the world, since Christians have been a major roadblock when it comes to abolition. We just need the Christians to be more like Jesus.

Shane Claiborne is author of Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us.

(The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)

 

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  • Fundamentalist Christians are very concerned about purity. While they may claim that every life (like every sperm) is sacred, in their minds some lives are more sacred than others. To them, the embryo in the womb is very “pure” in that it has not yet had the occasion to sin, even though Christian doctrine maintains that we’re all born into original sin. A hardened killer, in the mind of the fundamentalist on the other hand, deserves death, so their supposed belief that every life is sacred is temporarily suspended in favor of “an eye for an eye,” forgetting that Jesus had this to say about that:

    You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. (Matthew 5:38-42)

    Those words of Jesus are conveniently forgotten by fundamentalists in favor of the death penalty. Thankfully Pope Francis is here to remind them.

  • Pointing out to a certain class of so called christian that they are acting like a certain class of so called christian will never convince them that Christianity itself says that they ought not act like they do.

    It usually gets them upset, and prone to saying “what about..” and “yeah, but it’s different” and “whenever the Bible says something inconvenient it clearly must be talking about something else entirely.”

  • He was teaching on individual behavior, not altering the natural law rights and duties of the state.

  • “He made it the official doctrine of the Catholic Church …”.

    No, he did not.

    In fact, the preceding entry in the Catechism makes it clear that retributive justice may require the use of the death penalty.

    He did share his prudential judgment, which binds no Catholic in conscience.

  • Let’s just tell the truth for a change Ben.

    The murderers and the rapists, are pretty much the ONLY real reason why many states keep the Death Penalty at all.

    Look at that guy in the top photo. Raped and killed a 7-year-old.

    Shane can whine all he wants to, he can blame anybody he wants to. But in Tennessee, they’re paying serious attention not to Shane, but to that poor little girl’s final, agonized screams.

    Later this month, the rapist will start paying attention as well. It’s a justice thing, a Romans 13 thing.

    Some states, some citizens, some Christians, believe in Romans 13 but perhaps not in the DP. If you or your state says “No”, then okay. If you or your state says “Yes”, then okay. But Romans 13 exists.

  • I got it. Your version of your religion allows you to wish death on people, and think it is a good thing.

    “Do unto others…” there are a lot of asterisks.

    “Turn the other cheek…” not really.

  • Here’s the problem: As an atheist, you don’t even care about what either Jesus or Paul says in the New Testament. You publicly, openly reject both of them anyway.

    (But **now** thou seemingly wanteth to quote Jesus, whom thou doth not liketh.)

    So all I’m saying is,

    (1) make sure your quotations fit the actual topic and address all the NT scriptures. Like Rom 13.

    (2) don’t be no hypocrite.

  • Traditional Christianity, 85%, notes that the state has a right AND duty to provide a penalty which is proportionate to the crime.

    That’s you might pay a fine of $50 for jaywalking, while Timothy McVeigh – who killed at least 168 people (an unmatched left leg could have belonged to an unidentified 169th victim or could have belonged to any one of eight victims who had been buried without a left leg), injured more than 680 others, destroyed or damaged 324 other buildings within a 16-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and caused an estimated $652 million worth of damage – was executed.

    Among the dead were three pregnant women and 19 children as young as three months, 15 of whom were in the America’s Kids Day Care Center.

    “Wish death on people” is simple silliness.

  • Projection. Projection. Projection.

    As your type of Christian, you don’t care what Jesus’s Paul had to say about anything, either. You just pretend that you do.

    Romans 13 says you should obey secular authorities. Secular authorities passed non discrimination laws. You claim that you don’t need to obey those laws, that you are an exception to those laws.

    Paul said not to revile and slander others. You do that constantly— atheists, gay people, anyone who is not a fundelibangelist.

  • Projection. Projection. Projection.

    Lacking ANY rational basis for decision-making, you know what you like, what you want, and when you want it (now).

    Other than that it’s all blah blah.

    Just another fundatheistoogay.

  • Liberals in fact are why capital punishment lives on.

    If they weren’t so soft in keeping dangerous people behind bars..and in believing in fairy tale beliefs about rehabilitation, then there wouldn’t be a press to kill off these proven dangerous criminals.

  • Gosh, am I bad person to bring this up yet again about who does and doesn’t listen to jesus or Paul?

    No divorce except for adultery. Jesus.

    The Pauline exception. Paul.

    And then there is your reason: “I went to a council of fallible men who said it was ok for me to get a divorce. I was asked on several occasions whether it was for adultery or the Pauline exception, but I just repeated that I went to a co7ncil of men.”

  • There is nothing that executing these creeps would accomplish- – except killing the, to satisfy the bloodthirsty— that keeping them in prison, in absolute s9litary confinement of necessary. Also wouldn’t accomplish.

    By the way, since were on the subject, I think I will answer your question about whether atheism is a moral guide against the death penalty. The answer is yes. Atheism tells me that MOST LIKELY, that there isn’t a God, there isn’t a system of heavenly rewards and punishments, and there isn’t A heaven or hell. So this life is all that anyone has, or ever has had. Experience, often a valuable guide, tells me that most people want to live, and that mistakes have been made in death penalty, as I cited the other day. Logic tells me That once you murder somebody, even under color of law, you’re not going to be bringing them back. And because I don’t want to kill anybody and I don’t want anybody killing me, empathy tells me not to (dare I say it? Awwww,sure!) PARTICIPATE in what I consider murder. Especially since atheism tells me that this is the only life I, you, or anyone has.

  • It’s not silly, it’s ignorance and the Pope is just taking the public eye off his child molesting children.

  • Not sure why you’ve taken **this** route when the topic is clearly DP, but that’s okay with me. I’m still a sinner who has made real mistakes, but like I calmly explained previously (and will do so as often as you want)…

    …I voluntarily submitted my marital situation fully on the table with qualified senior Bible-believing clergy, for a full, no-nonsense biblical evaluation and a face-to-face judgment.

    Again, I invite you to report back to me on this topic AFTER you have voluntarily submitted your own gay marriage to the very same kind of sobering biblical scrutiny from qualified senior Bible-believing clergy, face-to-face.

    (You’ll find it’s a VERY interesting experience — trust me.)

  • Like I said previously, (you and I do a lotta re-hashing, don’t we?), I do like some of that R & S action, and I already know YOU like it for sure.

    So no use of you.complaining about any R & S. But having said that, when have I actually done any real (not imaginary) R & S towards you?

  • I think that you might also find that the Bible Belt is where the most lynchings of Black folks have occurred.

  • even though Christian doctrine maintains that we’re all born into original sin

    Not true. Some churches teach that, some don’t.

  • Sounds good until you consider that Christians live outside of the US. The US is more in line with the mid-East and Asia (and China) with respect to use of the death peanlty,

  • I agree with Timothy: I fail to see that you, sadly, contribute anything positive or genuine to this discussion.

  • Traditional Christianity, 85%, in the USA note that the state has a right AND duty to provide a penalty which is proportionate to the crime.

    What you’re saying is that the US is not in line with Western Europe, which is also pro-abortion, same sex marriage, and so on as a post-Christian society.

  • Because prior to the Great Migration

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Migration_%28African_American%29

    that’s where 90+% of blacks lived.

    William D. Lindsey’s ability to gather and process data to reach supportable conclusions is slim to none.

    Historically northern cities experienced the same problems proportionate to their black populations. For example, when in 1863 Congress passed a draft

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_draft_riots

    at 120 blacks were lynched. Contemporary accounts describe neighborhoods where a black person was “hanging from every lamppost”.

    Mobs destroyed many black homes and the Colored Orphan Asylum at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue was burned to the ground.

    Many black residents left Manhattan permanently with many moving to Brooklyn. By 1865, the black population fell below 11,000 for the first time since 1820.

  • Pro retributive justice.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2266 The efforts of the state to curb the spread of behavior harmful to people’s rights and to the basic rules of civil society correspond to the requirement of safeguarding the common good. Legitimate public authority has the right and duty to inflict punishment proportionate to the gravity of the offense. Punishment has the *primary aim* of redressing the disorder introduced by the offense. …

  • “Experience, often a valuable guide, tells me that most people want to live, and that mistakes have been made in death penalty, as I cited the other day.”

    Then people who want to live probably ought not go about blowing up Federal buildings with men, women, and children in them, eh?

    After all, this life is all that they had.

    This demonstrates that the problem is that your various analyses consist of your personal opinions, sans logic, sans morality, sans anything beyond your personal taste.

    That isn’t a moral system, it’s complete self-absorption.

  • Give us a paragraph on all you personally know about divorce in the Christian dispensation, including arguments pro and con, and any consensus on justifications.

    Or drop it.

  • I support the death penalty for the same reason I oppose abortion, because I believe in justice and recognize the fundamental humanity of those killed. To let off a mass murderer with a 21-year sentence is to deny justice to his 77 victims. Someday we will look back on the tens of millions of babies murdered by their mothers as great a horror as the evils of slavery, not so much the death penalty.

  • Yup – we, in large parts of Western Europe, regard people as more important than undemonstrable deities and reason as more important than irrational dogma.

    You’re in a young country and still showing some of the signs of impetuous, uneducated youthfulness that we went through. Fortunately the signs are that, erratically, the US is beginning to mature in to a responsible society. You’ve a long way to go yet, but the signs are hopeful.

    Once the US gets its act together it may surprise us all and overtake Western Europe – maybe it will become a shining beacon on the hill of Humanism.

  • Just a couple of days ago an Emmitt Till memorial was shot up. They still would if they could.

  • And Charlotte follows a post referencing a child rapist with: “Stop lynching LGBTQ+ people”. Sounds like she equates the two, LOL! Freudian slip?

  • So one side supports the death penalty for dangerous criminals, but not for people’s innocent human offspring in the womb, while the other side supports the death penalty for those innocents, but not for criminals.

  • When Jesus said, “Love your enemies” I don’t think he meant that you should kill them. Maybe I’m reading it wrong.

  • Progressives like Charlotte believe it’s ok to be racist against those who disagree with them. She probably had to struggle not to use the “N word”.

  • Solitary confinement for 30 years would be cruel, execution is more humane. No one is forcing you to be an atheist other than Satan, and he is a liar, subject to the second death. How is it “atheism” is telling you things?

    Your butt is not covered just because you used the words “most likely”

  • Homophobes like floydlee think it’s ok to lynch people for being gay or trans. Blacks should know better.

  • This article that we are commenting on contributes nothing positive or genuine to the internet.

  • A plus side of the Francis papacy: he makes it harder and harder all the time for a certain ilk of hard-right Catholic to lie about what is or is not official Catholic doctrine.

  • Murder is more humane than life. Got it.i’ll quote you the next time someone tells me a severely deformed fetus deserves life.

    Satan also doesn’t exist.

    I keep tellingfloyd this, but he didn’t t believe me. So I give him an inch, and you take six.

    There is no winning with you people.

  • Charlotte a little below says you “think it’s ok to lynch people for being gay or trans”. Have you ever said that, or no?

  • It was you who made the the connection by posting what you did. My, my, my, what would Sigmund say, hmm?

  • Execution does not benefit the survivors unless they desire suffering for revenge. Revenge is evil.

  • He’d probably be unintelligible, because his teeth are numb from too much cocaine. Stop blaming gay people for all your pedophilia problems.

  • It’s been shown that statistically that the death penalty doesn’t prevent crime. States like Denmark don’t have a death penalty. They have discovered that instead of treating prisoners like animals, humane treatment makes rehabilitation effective. Their crime rates have decreased dramatically, and very few criminals return to prison.

    This of course disappoints those who enjoy the suffering and get off on revenge.

  • “…pedophilia problems…” Ooops…another Freudian slip on your part!

    You’re revealing a lot about yourself here. There was that racist swipe at flyodlee, now this. Closet racist/pedophile, hmm?

  • In our modern justice system, what criminal penalties benefit the victims? That’s what civil suits are for. And revenge may be evil, but justice is not. The same God that gave us the two great commandments to love our God and love our neighbor — Jehovah, Jesus the Christ in his earthly life — also assigned death penalty as the maximum penalty for a number of crimes and made it mandatory for murder. All you have to do is look at the Atonement to realize that Justice and Mercy are on at least an equal level.

  • As I expressed above to floydlee, treating a human as an animal has, like the death penalty, no practical purpose other than revenge for those who enjoy it. As an Atheist, I have a real problem with people keeping dogs in a cages. Locking a human in solitary, or causing unnecessary suffering of any kind is immoral. Again it only satisfies the desires of those who gloat on revenge. This is the way most prisoners are treated in this country. If you treat a dog that way, it will usually be vicious if released. A prisoner that has spent time being abused as a human being is not likely to have a lot of compassion or respect for society when released. As an Atheist, I believe that everyone’s “one live” is valuable and worthy of respect. Of course we must protect society from those who are dangerous. However we must determine when a person is no longer dangerous on an individual basis. To cause suffering is immoral, to overcome it is moral.

    Denmark’s prison system has reduced crime and repeat convictions by a tremendous amount and made their society much safer. Here is an article about this:
    https://impact.vice.com/en_us/article/d3dabz/adopting-denmarks-unorthodox-prison-system-could-benefit-ex-offenders-in-america

  • Actually he makes it easier to see what is Catholic doctrine.

    He does the work of orthodox Catholics for them when he goes zany with bon mots like this.

  • He was preaching individual morality to individuals concerning their own behavior.

    Now, had he made those comments to Pontius Pilate pointing out that the state should love its enemies, you’d be cooking with gas.

  • I agree with you, mostly. The “mostly” part comes from the fact that I worked in law enforcement for a number of years, and I came to the conclusion that the criminal justice system was far more criminal than it was just. It’s a major reason I left.

  • People that are not religious are humane naturally. It is this society, and especially religion, that destroys their naturally compassionate nature.

  • We’re all familiar with Christian bloodrage, floyd. I note how none of it is ever warranted when innocent people are executed.

    Where is your outrage over Cameron Todd Willingham, who was convicted of arson and executed based on junk science, even after multiple scientists came forward and said there was no evidence the fire was intentionally set? Where is it for Troy Davis, who was convicted and executed based on testimony that was coerced from “witnesses” by law enforcement, most of whom later recanted their testimony? How about Claude Jones, convicted based on a hair, executed, and later exonerated by DNA? Then there’s Bobby Graham, executed despite two eyewitnesses who weren’t allowed to testify that he wasn’t the culprit. Carlos DeLuna, executed despite another man who had done similar crimes confessing to the murder for which DeLuna was convicted.

    Our justice system does a lousy job of making sure it has the right person. We execute innocent people regularly to satisfy Christian bloodrage, and we will continue to do so as long as we continue using the death penalty.

  • With the caveat that the Catechism of the Catholic Church contains discipline, history, and doctrines commingled and heavily footnoted, yes.

    This entry:

    http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/2267.htm

    “2267 Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.”

    “If, however, non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor, authority will limit itself to such means, as these are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”

    “Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm – without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself – the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity ‘are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’”

    has been changed, the third revision of 2267.

    The last paragraph is a prudential judgment, not doctrine.

  • The discussion appears to be about whether the death penalty can be morally levied or not, not failures in the justice system.

    Then there’s Timothy McVeigh, who killed well over a hundred people, some as young as three months, was dead to rights guilty, confessed, and was executed.

    So apparently the solution is to fix the justice system, not perpetrate an injustice by making it impossible to execute the Timothy McVeighs.

    And the “Christian bloodrage” comment was simply inflammatory nonsense.

  • I want to protect people from proven criminals who liberals refuse to permanently incarcerate, and who also believe in fairly dust rehabilitation of the same.

    I had a former girlfriend who was raped and murdered by one of these fellows, who had been released under liberal parole ideas.

    Fairy headed ideas come from fairies.

  • Did the words “has been changed” get deleted from your copy?

    https://disqus.com/home/discussion/religionnews/shane_claiborne_christians_are_why_the_death_penalty_lives_on/#comment-4026951941

    The structure of the Catholic Church is such that the Pontiff is both supreme legislator and judge.

    The current Catechism was a project of St. John Paul II, who revised it once, and this revision is the third revision.

    It is going to be awhile before the new version is printed, at which point the on-line versions will be amended to agree.

  • all authority is from god ? paul was speaking of life in an imperial roman situation . the return of christ, he thought, was imminent (verses 11-14) . no one needed to waste their time worrying about what rome was going to do . christ was the only focus .

    now nearly 2000 years later that authority does not flow top down . all authority comes from god through the free hands of the people . you and me . we must discuss and decide on things . there is no empire to excuse the life and death decisions made . on this romans 13 does not parallel our world .

    on this issue we alone are responsible .

  • there is still the problem that killing mcveighs change nothing . it doesn’t even lessen the odds that some terrorist might follow looking for a martyrs death .

  • there was and is no way to have a penalty proportionate to mcveigh’s crime . no way .

    your premise does not support any conclusion .

  • note that the pope and the vatican are in europe and do not live a post-christian society life . nor many, many others there . you are avoiding the discussion of the value or usefulness of the death penalty to bring that up . though it is interesting that areas of the world americans once looked down on, ‘life is cheap in the orient’, now seem to be more sensitive to the value of life than us .

  • you haven’t been watching this pope . he is working to solve that problem . your comment is nonsense .

  • “Rom 13.”

    does not directly, or indirectly really, discuss the moral issues surrounding the death penalty . it does say to pay your taxes, so no whining on april 15th .

  • I worship a God of Justice, not Santa Clause. Those of His laws we break in ignorance He will forgive, as well as those sins for which we offer true repentance. But He is only able to extend that Mercy because His Son has already met Justice’s demands in our place.

    For our own earthly society, our God-mandated duty is to give justice as we can within the limits He has set, with penalties up to and including the death penalty for those crimes for which no other penalty will balance the scales. Yes, there is a place for mercy within our own system, but that mercy should be extended with the consent of the victims. For the State to offer that mercy without those victims’ consent is to betray them, to say that they are not worthy of the State’s true recognition — and in the case of murder, the victims being dead, that consent is impossible to obtain. That I believe is why for murder in the Law of Moses the death penalty was mandatory. And why it should still be so today.

  • Your link has nothing to do with me. But for one who is a closet racist/pedophile (like yourself), it no doubt appeals to your prurient interests.

  • Charlotte is my crazy girlfriend who goes off her meds and acts out every once and awhile (daily).
    She never really has anything intelligent to say; but she has some incoherent one-liners.
    Just ignore her.

  • And your further reply again proves that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and has begun to prove that clueless is forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • There are no plantations in Chicago, nor are gay people the “Massa”. That’s just nonsense.

  • Rick, I ain’t even **imagined** such a outrageous thing.
    But if you were to ask Charlotte exactly how I am “lynching gays”, she likely would reply that:

    (1) I do clearly & repeatedly oppose gay marriage, (2) speak out against gay-self-identity and homosexual behavior, and (3) clearly & repeatedly promote and advertise change-oriented (“ex-gay”) resources.

    So that, according to Charlotte, puts me with those occasional news gigs in which a gay teen commits suicide or a parent goes crazy and kills their child.

    Rest assured, though, some other folks are in agreement with her. Blacks are apparently NOT supposed to oppose Gay Goliath. You can’t even serve on the NAACP board of directors if you publicly oppose gay marriage!

  • So we are committed to killing people to teach people that it is wrong to kill people. What is wrong with this picture?

    When I decided to tackle this subject from the pulpit in one church, one member demanded a “hearing” on my preaching. Even people who disagreed with my conclusions testified that they appreciated the church tackling the tough issues. So I went down to my house feeling justified…finally.

  • Oh, I guess not. It’s been replaced by public housing, poor school systems and horrible civic and faith leaders who have sold their souls to the ideals of socialism.
    Slavery still exists – but not just in the south.

  • Your living in a fantasy land. If that’s what your religion tells you, then complying with it causes your actions also to be evil. Your beliefs are a danger to society.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • “Evil” is to denigrate the victims by denying them justice as a categorical rule, within the limits God has laid down.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • No, we are committed to retributive justice, punishments proportionate to the crime.

    That means that giving the death penalty for going 5 mph over the speed limit is unjust, and giving Timothy McVeigh less than the death penalty is unjust.

  • Right.

    Banning the death penalty means at least in some cases justice can never be accomplished.

  • Your ‘silliness’ and your ‘cluelessness’ are “forever”.
    I never doubted that.
    But as for your claim “I can keep this up forever” – we both know that’s not true Bob.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated..

  • Your ‘silliness’ Bob and your ‘cluelessness’ are “forever”.
    I never doubted it.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever..

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • I never doubted it – that your ‘silliness’ and your ‘cluelessness’ were “forever”.
    But that you can ‘keep it up forever’? – that’s far from the case.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever..

    I can keep this up forever.

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever.

    I can keep this up forever

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever

    I can keep this up forever

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • Your ‘silliness’ and your ‘cluelessness’ are “forever”.
    You never doubted it.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever

    I can keep this up forever

    Quit when you’re satiated

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever –

    I can keep this up forever

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever

    I can keep this up forever –

    Quit when you’re satiated.

  • BobA, your ‘silliness’ and your ‘cluelessness’ are “forever”.
    I never doubted it.

  • And your further reply again proves again that talking silly strengthens orthodoxy, and is proving that your being clueless is apparently forever

    I can keep this up forever, but now I remember why I blocked you some months ago.

    So, you’re blocked. Bye bye.

  • Heads up! Since “Shane Claiborne is author of Executing Grace: How the Death Penalty Killed Jesus and Why It’s Killing Us”, it’s clear & pathetic that after all these years he still doesn’t get it:

    That “the Death Penalty Kill[ing] Jesus … [is not] Killing Us”, but regenerating and enlivening not “us” per se and in general, but only the born-from-above, fired-up and die-hard followers of THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation! Gospel truth be told, “the Death Penalty Kill[ing] Jesus” is the key to their resurrection to new life in the Spirit of God Himself!

    Thank God, therefore, that “Christians have a [GOOD] long history with the death penalty, going all the way back to A.D. 33, when the Roman Empire crucified Jesus.” Say again, GOOD. Thank You, Jesus, that You’ve got Yourself death-penalized & crucified until dead! Because now I have eternally and live abundantly in the here and now!

  • Who are “your enemies” you’re to “love”, then?

    “Maybe I’m reading [you] wrong”, too.

    And will this “Jesus” of yours ever “kill them”, do you know that much, at least?

  • Oh a born-from-above, fired-up and die-hard follower of THE Christ Jesus of the gospels, epistles and revelation, are ya now?

  • ” contributes nothing positive or genuine to the internet.” Charlotte, surely to goodness we mean to contribute to the good of mankind, of people everywhere
    not to the “internet”!

  • Not only is it not “all” I do but I have never, i.e., not ever, not ever ostracised anyone who disagrees with me. I interact and engage with all and welcome others and I listen to their views and values. You could not be more wrong if you set out to do so.

  • How about LGBTQ+ people, then? Do you tell then that they are disordered and going to hell, just for existing, like so many other “Christians”?

  • I spent three years in a monastery. One of the class, I learned many, many years later, was a homosexual. He was then a dear friend and he remains a very dear friend and I think the world of him. I have a number of friends and former colleagues who are homosexuals. I have never told them that they’re going to hell. I am, probably more selfishly, concerned that I do not go to hell let alone tell others that they’re goig there.

  • No, a danger to society is a law enforcement and justice system that Is unable to do its job because of self righteous, politically correct politicians who are more concerned with the criminals (and related voting block) than the law abiding citizens they were elected to serve.

  • Bob, What an amazing precis of this horrendous episode. Surely you consulted records for this information and did not simply produce it from memory!

  • For crying out loud, block that disturbed child already. She’s the human equivalent of a severe case of tinnitus and nobody needs that.

  • I consider your God the one that Richard Dawkins describes. If you worship him you may as well worship what the Christians call the devil.

    Yes he most likely would consider torturing and killing those who don’t support his “values”. Fortunately human values have become more humane in the millenniums since your Bible was created. Still the moral poison still can be found in people with beliefs like yours.

    In a humane legal system, citizens would be encouraged to follow the law. Offenders would be forced to compensate victims if possible. If this is not possible the defendant would be required to face the victims and be seperated from society until it was safe to allow the criminal to return. This would accomplish the prevention of crime, minimize the number who repeat crimes, and prepare the criminal to return as a safe member of society.

    This will never satisfy those who have learned from their religions the equivaleint of “eye for an eye”. In spite of what your “Book” says, revenge is an morally evil and is an evil desire which should be overcome.

    “The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.”
    Richard Dawkins

    If I needed a God I would rather pick Santa Clause.

  • Absolutely, there are some sins/crimes for which nothing short of death will balance the scales, murder being the big one. Actually, there are sins/crimes for which death isn’t sufficient to balance the scales, but fortunately for us God set the top penalty at death — anything beyond that, we will need to leave to Him.

  • You are absolutely right, Vengeance is the Lord’s … but Justice is not only our right but our duty, and we will be judged if we refuse to grant it. So you can stick with Santa Claus, and I’ll stick with God. After all, God isn’t an enabler, he actually cares about us enough to not make our lives easy, and has standards he expects us to live up to.

    Consider Ezekiel 18:25-32. Nothing Jesus said ever contradicted this:

    “Yet you say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Hear, you Israelites: Is my way unjust? Is it not your ways that are unjust? If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin, they will die for it; because of the sin they have committed they will die. But if a wicked person turns away from the wickedness they have committed and does what is just and right, they will save their life. Because they consider all the offenses they have committed and turn away from them, that person will surely live; they will not die. Yet the Israelites say, ‘The way of the Lord is not just.’ Are my ways unjust, people of Israel? Is it not your ways that are unjust?

    “Therefore, you Israelites, I will judge each of you according to your own ways, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign Lord. Repent and live!”

  • I don’t need Santa Clause or your vengeful God. I am responsible, as actually everyone is, for determining my own moral values.

  • That’s a pretty broad statement. I’ve met people of all religions whose religion has made them better more compassionate people.

  • I’m Jewish and so I’m butting into this argument here. The Torah says “an eye for an eye”, but that was interpreted to mean monetary compensation for an eye. The rabbis put restrictions on the death penalty so that it become virtually impossible to ever execute anyone. For example, one needed to have two witnesses to the murder.

  • No, we don’t determine our own moral values. Yes, we all may come at the elephant from different angles and come to different conclusions, but the elephant is the same for everyone and in the end when we stand before God’s judgment seat there will be a single standard for everyone — His standard.

  • “The Church] regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men” (Vatican II’s “Nostra Aetate”, #2, which acknowledges the divine influence among everyone, regardless, not just Catholics).

    Thank you, mon ami. Although you are an atheist, you seem to have a better understanding of, and appreciation for, Christian doctrine than many self-professed Krishtuns. The negative feedback you’ve received sadly illustrates the poor state of Gospel reception today.

  • Thanks for the kind words.
    And yeah, it is amazing that this gay atheist is far more Christian than the people who want to use their Christianity as a club.
    But I don’t write for the dominionists or the people irretrievably poisoned by hate or their lust for dominion or money.

  • How can the death penalty be “morally levied” when news reports show innocent people having been executed? One execution of an innocent person is one too many if the State can protect society by secure incarceration.

  • The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH does not mention so-called “retributive” justice. CCC-2266, when juxtaposed with CCC-2267, does not sanction the death penalty. The rest of CCC-2266, not quoted by “R.A. Bob” reads as follows, “… When his punishment is voluntarily accepted by the offender, it takes on the value of expiation. Moreover, punishment, in addition to preserving public order and the safety of persons, has a medicinal scope: as far as possible it should contribute to the correction of the offender.” There is no “medicinal” value in killing the convict. Death is no “corrective” for the condemned.

    The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH includes references to other kinds of justice, but “retributive” justice is not one of them.

  • “In fact, the preceding entry in the Catechism makes it clear that retributive justice may require the use of the death penalty.”

    No, it does not.

    You’re engaging in eisegesis, i.e., reading into a text what is not present in said text.

  • “The last paragraph [# 2267] is a prudential judgment, not doctrine.”

    Baloney.

    “The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which I approved June 25th [1992] and the publication of which I today order by virtue of my Apostolic Authority, is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition, and the Church’s Magisterium. I declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (JPII, Apostolic Constitution “Fidei Depositum”).

  • “Actually [Pope Francis] makes it easier to see what is Catholic doctrine.”

    If only you’d recognized the doctrinal nature of CCC-2267 promulgated by JPII.

  • “No, we are committed to retributive justice…blah, blah, blah.”

    No, YOU are committed to retributive justice.

    The CATECHISM OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH teaches otherwise.

  • “I worship a God of Justice.”

    Hmmm………..God is Love (1 John 4:7-21) and desires mercy (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7).

  • Did you bother to read more of my post than the first sentence? If God is not a God of Justice, then why was the Atonement necessary?

  • “[God] has standards [and] expects us to live up to [them].”

    And if we don’t? “…and forgive us our sins, as we forgive others…” (Luke 11 and Matthew 6). “Then Peter approaching asked him, ‘Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times'” (Matthew 18:21-22).

    “[God] actually cares about us enough to not make our lives easy.”

    Hmmm…….”Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    What Jesus demands of his followers is unlimited forgiveness. God’s justice is not retribution.

  • I may have overstated. I will say that in this society, people that have evil orientations tend to excuse it with their religion. I have also met people of many religions that were compassionate people. I don’t think in most cases that was because of their religion, and sometimes it is in spite of their religion. I should say those that base their moral values on the Abrahamic, or Hindu religions disrespect the “other” and, encourage revenge and punishment. They don’t determine whether something is right because they think God said so, or did he say so because it is right. (In this sense right because of reasons). You can see this in the responses based on religion in this discussion.

  • I assume you’ll be happy I blocked him.

    That should produce the result you’re looking for.

  • I don’t have the complete picture here, but I think my comment was aimed at two persons, perhaps including yourself. I am so unknowledgeable that I don’t know how to block anyone. But it isn’t a lot of fun to participate when there is more put-downs than serious reflections on the topic at hand.

  • The “Two witnesses” provision does NOT eliminate the biblical death penalty. Instead, the provision ensured that there was real justice and truthfulness in the situation if it came down to an actual DP.

    It also prevented the “Swatting” gigs that you see in today’s headlines (prank-calling 911 on a fellow gamer you think cheated at Pokémon, so that the cops would go after him with guns drawn.)

  • “So apparently the solution is to fix the justice system, not perpetrate an injustice by making it impossible to execute the Timothy McVeighs.”

    Just thought I’d repeat that one line. Well worth repeating.

    And let’s repeat a few other names, by the way. Ted Bundy, rapist, murder, necrophile, confessed to 30 victims but he low-balled it. John Wayne Gacy, alias “Pogo the Clown” (or was it “Pennywise the Clown”?), 33 boys and men tortured and murdered, possible dinner menu also. Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass shooter. The Carr brothers of Wichita, KS, murders, rapes, injured women begging to be spared, all in one cruel night. Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, mass shooter record holder. Genesis 9:6 up-front.

  • Id you check your stats that 85% first apparently does not exist and is not universal. Greatest support for the death penalty is the highest – and not that high – for white evangelical Christians – support is very low among the black Christian population. And very low for those of the Jewish faith and other faith traditions. It really makes me sad when Christians support the death penalty.. And given that the US was in 10th place for executions, I don’t think Western Europe is any type of argument.

  • Yes, Jesus’s yoke is easy and his burden is light, but that doesn’t mean life is remotely easy. And you should have backed up a few verses in the same chapter, when Jesus prophesizes about those that rejected him:

    Then Jesus began to denounce the towns where he had done so many of his miracles, because they hadn’t repented of their sins and turned to God. “What sorrow awaits you, Korazin and Bethsaida! For if the miracles I did in you had been done in wicked Tyre and Sidon, their people would have repented of their sins long ago, clothing themselves in burlap and throwing ashes on their heads to show their remorse. I tell you, Tyre and Sidon will be better off on judgment day than you.

    “And you people of Capernaum, will you be honored in heaven? No, you will go down to the place of the dead. For if the miracles I did for you had been done in wicked Sodom, it would still be here today. I tell you, even Sodom will be better off on judgment day than you.”

    And Jesus demands more than forgiving others. There’s this from Matthew 5:

    “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else? Even pagans do that. But you are to be perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”

    Then there’s Matthew 25:

    “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

    “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

    “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

    “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

    “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
    demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

    “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

    “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

    “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

    If that’s what happens to those that aren’t charitable, what about those that actively assault, defraud, and oppress their brothers and sisters? (As we are all God’s children.) Ultimately, something like this from Micah 2:

    What sorrow awaits you who lie awake at night,
    thinking up evil plans.
    You rise at dawn and hurry to carry them out,
    simply because you have the power to do so.
    When you want a piece of land,
    you find a way to seize it.
    When you want someone’s house,
    you take it by fraud and violence.
    You cheat a man of his property,
    stealing his family’s inheritance.

    But this is what the Lord says:

    “I will reward your evil with evil;
    you won’t be able to pull your neck out of the noose.
    You will no longer walk around proudly,
    for it will be a terrible time.”

    In that day your enemies will make fun of you
    by singing this song of despair about you:
    “We are finished,
    completely ruined!
    God has confiscated our land,
    taking it from us.
    He has given our fields
    to those who betrayed us.”
    Others will set your boundaries then,
    and the Lord’s people will have no say
    in how the land is divided.

  • Simply put, that Jesus suffered for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to, if we will but accept his Atonement, repent of our sins, and follow him.

  • Thank you for your clarification. If God is a God of Justice, as you believe, then God’s justice is our salvation. We believe Jesus is our Savior. The name ‘Jesus’ means “God saves”, not “God saves if”. God’s love is unconditional, no strings attached. Luke 15’s three parables portray God pursuing those “lost” in sin, finding them, and bringing them back home, i.e., divine reconciliation. A sinner, being “lost”, cannot find his way back home. God takes the initiative, bears the burden of saving us. In four Gospel passages, Jesus tells his followers to forgive; in only one of them does the word “repent” appear as a condition of being forgiven. We express repentance because it is God who first forgives us, thereby healing us. If God tells us to forgive without limit, will God do otherwise?

    Atonement theology is based on the idea that the Father sent the Son to suffer and die for us on the cross in order to save us from hell. In other words, the Father sacrificed the Son. Jesus is the “victim”. This interpretation overlooks the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice was *self-sacrifice*. He was not a sacrificial victim.

    Love is traditionally understood as self-sacrifice, i.e., extending oneself to help “the other” without expectation of anything in return. If God is Love itself, then God (a) does not condemn and, more important, (b) does not let us condemn ourselves. God pursues us to effect reconciliation.

  • I’m not a Roman Catholic, so I don’t really have a dog in this fight, but I think His Holiness has got the right idea. Support for capital punishment is really hard to mesh with the kind of life Christians are supposed to be living.

  • It’s not always a matter of sides, some of us oppose both the death penalty and abortion.

  • “Yes, Jesus’s yoke is easy and his burden is light, but that doesn’t mean life is remotely easy.”

    It was you who earlier wrote, “God] actually cares about us enough to not make our lives easy.” Is it God who does not make our lives easy? Within the context of Matthew 11, it is the scribes and Pharisees who make life hard for the people. Verses 28-30 show that following Jesus’ teaching can free people from the burdens imposed by various religious leaders.

    This discussion reminds me of the reality of evil in the world. This reality, broadly speaking, encompasses sinful behavior, human illness, and natural disasters. If God is good, so the argument goes, why does God allow evil? Why does God not intervene? There is no universally acceptable explanation to justify evil. Fact is bad things happen to good people (and not just sinners).

    Jesus’ denunciation reflects the use of hyperbole to stress the seriousness of his ministry. He is understandably angry about his teaching and miracles being ignored. Again, however, we have Jesus instructing his followers elsewhere in scripture to initiate forgiveness toward others. If Jesus instructs his followers to forgive without limit, will God not do the same? Is God a hypocrite: Do as I say, not as I do? The word ‘gospel’ means “good news”. The good news is we have already been saved. Jesus is the Savior who, as God, cannot fail us.

    You ask, “[W]hat about those that actively assault, defraud, and oppress their brothers and sisters?” They, too, will be saved because God is Love itself. In their sinful behavior, they are “lost” just like the prodigal son. It is God who searches for, finds, and heals them. With divine healing comes one’s expression of repentance. “Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. I did not come to call the righteous but sinners” (Mark 2:17).

    The old law focused on punishment. The new law focuses on forgiveness. It combines love of neighbor with love of God. “We love because [God] first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21). The “brother” (or sister) can be sinner or saint. The commandment to love does not distinguish between the two.

  • Repeating your belief in God over and over may make it seem true to you but it does not impress me.

  • I respond to hundreds of people every week, including plenty on this forum. You are not special.

  • “Id you check your stats that 85% first apparently does not exist and is not universal.”

    Sez you.

    “Greatest support for the death penalty is the highest – and not that high – for white evangelical Christians – support is very low among the black Christian population. And very low for those of the Jewish faith and other faith traditions.”

    I disagree.

    “It really makes me sad when Christians support the death penalty.”

    It really makes me sad when Christians state unequivocally that injustice should enshrined in their laws.

    “And given that the US was in 10th place for executions, I don’t think Western Europe is any type of argument.”

    I don’t think, given Western Europe’s post-Christian pro-abortion socialist views, what Western Europe does has a scintilla of relevance to the US except that the UK and the US share English more or less.

  • Yes, and some are both pro-death penalty and pro-abortion. Both that option and the one you mentioned seem to encompass smaller groups (or at least less vocal and noticed groups) than the first two options I referred to. They are more logically consistent (or at least easier to explain).

  • Huh? I’m not sure what the second paragraph has to do with the death penalty.
    There are many other provisions which the rabbis added as well such as if all judges agreed that person could not be executed.

  • “An eye for an eye” may be one of the misunderstood phrases in what Christians call the “Old Testament.” It meant the punishment should not exceed the crime. It also meant monetary compensation for an eye. The rabbis put so many restrictions on the death penalty that it was impossible to ever execute anyone. So I’m not sure where that verse in the “NT” comes from, but I doubt Jesus actually said it.

  • The biggest argument against the death penalty is simply that it’s irreversible. There are too many mistakes in our justice system. We are often wrong and it’s too late to find out after the person is executed.

  • I don’t agree with that at all. What about the passages in the Hebrew Bible that tell Jews to accept and respect the stranger because you were once strangers too. It’s true all religions have a dark side, but it’s not just the Abrahamic religions. What about what Buddhists are doing to the Rohingya? They’re not Abrahamic and they’re not Hindu. You have obviously never read any Torah commentaries, Midrash or Talmud, because there is endless argument and debate about what Torah passages mean. The rabbis talked about having an “argument for the sake of heaven.

  • .. so assign him a DP sentence too, if he’s convicted of capital murder by a jury in a DP state.

  • Along with everyone else who, like you, thinks that it’s OK to kill people just for being gay or trans.

  • It is also true that all religions promote moral truths. As you say they also have dark sides. I don’t know about all religions, I just included those I’m familiar with. I left out Buddhism because I am aware it has thousands of sects. The one Mahāyāna sect that I am familiar with gives its members the responsibility to make the moral choice between causing harm and improving the well-being of yourself, others, and nature. I am as appalled as you are about the actions of the Buddhists in Myanmar. I also have problems with some of the teachings in Tibet.

    The problem with all of the religions that I listed is that believers and clergy must select the good from the bad and this has historically and currently caused great evil. Those who actually commit the evil often sincerely believe it is the will of their god.

  • That is an argument for fixing the justice system, not an argument against the death penalty.

  • It was difficult to execute someone, NOT impossible.

    What made it really difficult was the Romans, who in areas under their control reserved the death penalty to themselves.

  • You are right that God pursues us to effect reconciliation, you are wrong that He does not let us condemn ourselves — He offers us salvation, but will not impose it upon us. The Atonement is a life preserver thrown out to his drowning children, but WE have to reach out and seize it. And one of the things that is crystal clear from Jesus’s statements and parables is that not all will make that effort. And they will not be saved because they are not people after God’s own heart, as revealed by their actions. All that’s necessary to see this is to look at Jesus’s parables of the sower and the sheep and the goats, and the letter of his brother James.

  • Most of this I already responded to in my other post, but thank you for bringing up the parable of the Prodigal Son, because that parable supports my position — the wasteful son’s father did not seek out his son and force him to return home, but waited anxiously for that son to come to his senses and turn back home of his own free will; then when that son did, threw a party in celebration.

    And no, God — or rather Jesus, since because of his Atonement the decision is his — is not a hypocrite for commanding us to forgive liberally while basing his forgiveness on our own repentance. As God (Jesus) told the prophet Samuel long before, HE sees the heart, and so HE knows whether the repentance is sincere.HE knows all the circumstances that surround the event. We cannot, so we can only forgive and leave to God the determination of whether Mercy can be extended or Justice must be imposed.

  • You are right that there are too many mistakes in our justice system, but execution is always wrong. When a dangerous person is in confinement and no longer dangerous, there is only vengeance as an argument for killing. This may be a valid religious argument, but it is morally not humane or ever justified.

  • Fixing the justice system is necessary, but it takes time. So what are we supposed to do now, let innocent people be wrongly executed until we fix the justice system? The justice system will never be perfect, but execution is forever. If you find out you’re wrong, you can’t fix it.

  • I agree with you, but I was making a point. I wasn’t expressing all my opinions on the death penalty.

  • Jules Isaac, a French Jewish historian, said that “Christianity has a theology of contempt towards Judaism.” It affect everyone who grows up in Christian culture no matter they live or they’re atheists. Richard Dawkins comment is a perfect example of that. Even the most Ultra-Orthodox Jews do not interpret what he called the “Old Testament”, a term Jews never use, literally. There are centuries of Torah commentaries, Midrash, Talmud that interpret and explain the Hebrew Bible. If you don’t know anything about them, you should be careful how you comment on the “Old Testament.” Jews are never literalist readers of the Hebrew Bible.

  • I don’t intend to study your theology. I accept and I have experienced the humanistic values of many Jewish people. As I said above we all create our character by taking responsibility for our own values. Regardless of how positive the values expressed in your religious teachings, they have to be evaluated for current circumstances. I believe this is done by many Jewish believers.

    The state of Israel must be judged by its actions. These include oppressing, killing indiscriminately, violently punishing entire populations for the actions of a few. Destroying family homes, brutal military control of civilian populations. Illegally confiscating more and more homes and land, and creating apartheid conditions within the country. The present regime in Israel is instituting policies which, if they already haven’t, will create a fascist state. These are the actions of a brutal oppressor that our evil government is rewarding.

    I was addressing the comments above to a fundamentalist Christian. I believe Dawkins describes their concept of God quite well. There are many liberal Christians that don’t accept the Bible literally, and follow more humane values.

  • You write, “[T]he parable of the Prodigal Son…supports my position — the wasteful son’s father did not seek out his son and force him to return home, but waited anxiously for that son to come to his senses and turn back home of his own free will…”

    Wrong.

    Contrary to your view, the Father did seek out the lost son. How do we know this to be true? Because: (a) this parable is one of three, with the other two *clearly* relating God looking for the lost sheep and the lost coin and rejoicing upon finding them, and (b) verse 32 at which the Father tells the older son, “[B]ut now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.” Who did the finding, which of necessity requires searching for the lost son? In parallel fashion, who restored life to the lost son? (It wasn’t the son in either case.)

    So Jesus “told Samuel…” What translation are you using? One internet link — https://biblehub.com/1_samuel/16-7.htm — has “Lord”, “God”, “Yahweh”, and “Jehovah”, but none of these translations has “Word” or “Jesus”.

    You identify “God” as “Jesus”. This is biblically and theologically incorrect. Jesus is God within the mystery of the Trinity. On the other hand, God is not Jesus. God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    The Lord God told Samuel. The Word/Jesus did not tell him.

    You write, “[W]e can only forgive and leave to God the determination of whether Mercy can be extended or Justice must be imposed.”

    You appear to be contradicting the Gospel in which Jesus says, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Mt 9:13 and 12:7; Hosea 6:6). Mercy is free gift; it is not earned. God’s love is unconditional. The name ‘Jesus’ means “God saves”, not “God saves if…” We know from our God-given psychology that the act of forgiving benefits the forgiver, not necessarily the person being forgiven. On the cross, Jesus says, “Father, forgive them…” Jesus tells Peter to forgive without limit (Mt 18:21-22). There is no mention of a sinner repenting; Peter (and, by extension, we) must *initiate* forgiveness. Period.

    Jesus is Savior. God’s justice is our salvation.

  • Of course, God does not “impose” salvation on us. Why? Because we cannot, in the final analysis, reject God’s love. When we sin, we are not free; we are “lost in sin”. A person who is lost cannot find his way out of the wilderness of sin. Luke 15 is relevant here. God takes the initiative; we are helpless at this point.

    “For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation” (Romans 5:6-11).

    Sinners are “enemies”. How does God treat enemies?

    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:43-48).

    Sinners cannot reach for the life preserver. Sinners are drowning. What does Jesus do for Peter who is of little faith (cf. John 18:17) and is drowning? Matthew 14:27-31 relates:

    “At once [Jesus] spoke to them, ‘Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Peter said to him in reply, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw how [strong] the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught him, and said to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?'”

    Most moral theologians think the root cause of most sin is FEAR. And so we sin out of FEAR, and Jesus rescues us. That’s what a Savior does.

  • You don’t have to study theology to study Talmud. A lot of lawyers study Talmud for secular reasons. This is a discussion of the death penalty in the United States. Why did you drag Israel into it? Israel’s behavior warrants criticism, but why this obsession? It is unwarranted to discuss anything to with Israel here just because we were discussing Judaism. Israel has executed one person since it was founded, Albert Eichman.

    You don’t have to study theology, but you should have a much better knowledge of Judaism and Jewish history.

  • I began this discussion about the death penalty with a fundamentalist Christian. You brought up the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish faith. I am against the death penalty because of my respect for the potential of human life. Except in defense of life, I see no justification for killing a human. Indiscriminate killing of protesters is immoral. I know that Israel has not executed anyone since Eichman, this is more humane than the United States. However the slaughter of Palestinians continues. The Knesset is now considering the execution of Palestinian terrorists.

    I am concerned about Politics and Ethics. For this I have little use for legal training. I don’t think it is useful to discuss moral values from a religious position. If something is right this must be determined by compassion and reason in our present situations.

  • The Internet is so unsafe these days. One minute people ask for your address, the next minute you’re the guest star in the next episode of “Dark Web Red Room.”

    (And you won’t even get your fair share of the profits after the show!!)

    So, my apologies. Can’t show all my cards, thanks.

  • It doesn’t require much time at all.

    In the short run it requires the sort of evidence that existed in the Timothy McVeigh case or the Boston bombers: physical, eyeball, and confession.

    Anything that would prevent another Timothy McVeigh from being executed is an injustice.

    In the long run competent public defenders, with decent budgets to hire experts, making fabrication of evidence or hiding of exculpatory evidence a criminal offense with stiff penalties and enforcing it, and excluding the death penalty cases supported solely by circumstantial evidence or eyewitnesses would eliminate the issue.

    Yes, justice is imperfect, always, and always will be.

  • Of course in reality until the Romans got involved executions took place, even in the first century CE albeit illegally.

  • I just used used lawyers studying Talmud as one example of people studying Talmud for non-theologicaql reasons. It’s really moer about how to behave and morals than theology. Religion for many people is their way to compassion and helping others. i”m not sure how much reason helps. People dont’ help others because of reason. Many of the people I know who are most involved with feeding the homeless or protersting family separation are coming at it from a religious angle.

    I also brought up the Talmud because you have a deep ignorance of Jeiwsh hsitory, culture and religon.

    Yes, indiscriminate shooting of protestors is morally wrong. You left out the armed Hamas members mixed in with the protestors. the kites set on fire with gasoline that caused masisve fires in Isrsael in the border area. Your morality is for one side only. I have family members who live in that area on the Israeli side of the border. They were never settlers.

  • As I said above that is only one reason to end the death penalty. Therre are many others. It’s also expensive and does not prevent crime. When Britain hung thieves. Pickpockets foraged through the crowds at hangings. It has never worked.

  • You don’t need God to have morals, but the idea that on’e moral’s are entirely self-created is wrong.

  • The evidence is that it does prevent crime.

    It is expensive only because the American system has sufficient other issues that 30 year delays in executions, as happened this past week in Tennessee, are not uncommon.

    They should be.

    Any justice system which does not provide for the death penalty for the likes of Timothy McVeigh or Billy Ray Irick is an injustice system.

  • Oh, my evidence must “one-sided” because you’re right, which makes me wrong.

    There is evidence on both sides of the argument of the death penalty as a deterrence:

    https://deathpenalty.procon.org/view.answers.php?questionID=000983

    The conclusion is that the current state of the evidence is that we should not cite deterrence for either side of the argument:

    https://www.law.upenn.edu/live/files/1529-nagin-full-reportpdf

    That means we can focus on the primary purpose of any punishment: redressing the offenses, aka justice.

    Justice would demand the execution of Timothy McVeigh.

    Any system that does not is injustice.

  • There’s not much point in continuing this, but I will end with a couple more statements from Jesus. First, his statement on the Final Judgment in Matthew 25:

    “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his
    demons. For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

    “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

    “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

    “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

    And then from the parable of the Great Feast from Matthew 22, after all the wealthy and well-off refused to attend so the guest roster was filled up with whomever was found on the street:

    “But when the king came in to meet the guests, he noticed a man who wasn’t wearing the proper clothes for a wedding. ‘Friend,’ he asked, ‘how is it that you are here without wedding clothes?’ But the man had no reply. Then the king said to his aides, ‘Bind his hands and feet and throw him into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

    “For many are called, but few are chosen.”

  • I recommend the Linns’ GOOD GOATS: HEALING OUR IMAGE OF GOD, which addresses some of the threatening language of scripture. The authors also wrote UNDERSTANDING DIFFICULT SCRIPTURES IN A HEALING WAY. Thanks for replying.

  • There are very few cases as clear cut as Timothy McVeigh. Most are much messier and complicated.

  • And so changing the law to allow executions for the Timothy McVeighs in order to preserve the concept of justice is a worthwhile short-term approach.

    The two biggest pressing needs for the long term are funding public defenders and designing harsh punishments for bad police and prosecutors.

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