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Look Who’s Talking About the Death Penalty

The recently botched execution in Oklahoma has catapulted discussion of the death penalty to a new high and revealed some new voices, including retired Lt. Col. Oliver North.

Writing on, Kevin Williams tells us that North has opposed the death penalty for a long time. In a conversation recently North reiterated that position:

“I’m a “law and order” guy. Don’t get me wrong. Individuals need to be held accountable. I don’t believe in mass punishments and group responsibilities and the kinds of fuzzy-wuzzy stuff of the Left, but I have always felt… and always said that there are very serious questions about the justice of the death penalty.

North isn’t the only person who recognizes problems with the implementation of the death penalty. In the New York Daily News, S. E. Cupp makes a conservative case calling for an end to executing prisoners. In answering her own question, “Is it just,” she says:

Starting from a pro-life point of view, it hardly seems consistent with a culture that values life. In fact, a couple of Republicans in Kentucky are reconciling that very notion right now. State Rep. David Floyd introduced a bill to repeal the state’s death penalty, arguing in the Louisville Courier-Journal that conservatives “should not support a state government program that can kill innocent people.”

The other Republican she refers to is State Rep. Julie Racque Adams, who served as the primary co-sponsor of HB 330.

Running against the tide was the Rev. Albert Mohler, president of Southern Seminary. In a recent column on the CNN religion blog titled “Why Christians Should Support the Death Penalty” he states:

I believe that Christians should hope, pray and strive for a society in which the death penalty, rightly and rarely applied, would make moral sense.

This would be a society in which there is every protection for the rights of the accused, and every assurance that the social status of the murderer will not determine the sentence for the crime.

And even though he points out that the above conditions do not exist, he does not call for a moratorium on executions until they do.

Shane Claiborne is a prominent social activist, advocating for nonviolence and service to the poor. He is also the author of the popular book, The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical. His response to Rev. Mohler’s column points to the absence of any mention of Jesus by Rev. Mohler:

[He] wrote a piece this week defending the death penalty. In his 1200 word argument for why Christians should support the death penalty, he does not mention Jesus a single time.

Digging deeper, as you read the official pro-death penalty statement of the Southern Baptists, there is not a single reference to Jesus or the Gospels.

At the end of his reflection Claiborne concludes:

We cannot ignore Jesus as we discuss the death penalty. As was the case with slavery, many Christians misused Scripture to justify injustice and ended up on the wrong side of history. It is my hope that Southern Baptists will reconsider their statement on capital punishment in light of Jesus, and not have to apologize 100 years from now for being on the wrong side of history.

KCADP believes we are on the right side of history by working together to end the death penalty in Kentucky. If you have not done so, please become a financial supporter of the Coalition and sign up to receive our eNewsletter today.

Photos: courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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