(RNS) One day after the state of Ohio executed a man for murder (Jan. 16), a new poll shows younger Christians are not as supportive of the death penalty as older members of their faith.

Graphic courtesy Barna Group

Graphic courtesy of Barna Group


This image is available for Web publication. For questions, contact Sally Morrow.

When asked if they agreed that “the government should have the option to execute the worst criminals,” 42 percent of self-identified Christian boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, said “yes.” Only 32 percent of self-identified Christian millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, said the same thing.

The poll conducted by Barna Group this past summer and released to Religion News Service Friday, surveyed 1,000 American adults and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2.6 percentage points.

It showed an even sharper difference in support for the death penalty among “practicing Christians,” which Barna defined as those who say faith is very important to their lives and have attended church at least once in the last month. Nearly half of practicing Christian boomers support the government’s right to execute the worst criminals, while only 23 percent of practicing Christian millennials do.

Other polling organizations such as Gallup, show similar generational trends among Americans in general.

Heather Beaudoin, national organizer for Equal Justice USA, a national organization working to reform the criminal justice system, said the Barna research confirms what she sees: a growing desire among younger Christians to abolish the death penalty.

“The question for them is no longer ‘Is it right or wrong?’” said Beaudoin. “They are seeing how it is actually functioning in our country — the race issues, the risk of executing the innocent, the fact that if you can afford an attorney you’ll probably not end up on death row — and they are changing their minds.”

Roxanne Stone, vice president for publishing at Barna, said capital punishment may increasingly be seen as a human rights or social justice issue.

“This parallels a growing trend in the pro-life conversation among Christians to include torture and the death penalty as well as abortion,” Stone said. “For many younger Christians, the death penalty is not a political dividing point but a human rights issue.”

And what of that age-old question, “What would Jesus do?”

According to the Barna study, only 5 percent of Americans believe that Jesus would support government’s ability to execute the worst criminals. Two percent of Catholics, 8 percent of Protestants, and 10 percent of practicing Christians said their faith’s founder would offer his support.

“People use Jesus as their ideal and what they aspire to,” said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington. “But in practical day-to-day living they know they will fall short and be less than ideal. They might think that the ideal is to turn the other cheek or not throw the first stone, but they do. They are more pragmatic.”

Comparatively lower support for the death penalty among young Christians stands in sharp contrast to the way conservative Christian leaders like Ralph Reed, Gary Bauer, and Jerry Falwell backed state executions in the 1990s.

“Certain things come to a moment and then become accepted all of a sudden very quickly,” Dieter says. “From apartheid to women’s rights, we’ve seen this throughout history. I think we’re coming to a moment on this issue now that will lead to the death penalty being outlawed in the United States and around the world.”

YS/AMB END MERRITT

59 Comments

    • So life is precious to a Christian, only prior to birth?
      Can you give an example of Jesus calling for an execution?
      I can think of one he stopped in progress.

      I can also think of a whole bunch of churches which oppose the death penalty and always have. If anything this is a sign that people are taking to heart the humanity of the Christian faith as opposed to dogged inhumane adherence to dogma.

      • LARRY,

        You refer to, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” but this is a later accretion in the 3rd century. It was not in any of the older Gospels of the Bible and has been determined by historians to be UNATTRIBUTABLE to Jesus.
        It was probably added because without it Jesus is extraordinarily violent.

        “Bring those my enemies and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” (Luke 19:27)

        The Parable of the 12 Minas (Luke 19) is an example where Jesus fancies himself a nobleman who expects his ‘servants’ do tend to his property – but he returns disappointed in some and refers to them as his enemy. The Nobleman King in Parable – is JESUS calling for executions.

      • Larry,

        Besides, it is incoherent for God to demand stoning – which was the law of Moses at the time of Jesus – yet also be somehow against stoning.
        It is also problematic because some people, such as Popes, have asserted they are infallible and therefor may “do the stoning”. This was justification for the 200 years of Crusades and other horrors where the church executed millions of innocents.

        • There is the idea that there is agreement for a stance on this subject for the whole of Christendom is as ridiculous coming from a fundamentalist as it is coming from an atheist. To pretend that Christianity wholeheartedly supports capital punishment as you and Bill Behan suggest would suggest is to frame the discussion only in terms of its most extreme members.

          There has always been a longstanding opposition to capital punishment coming from various Christian sects. Quakers (and Anabaptist sects) always opposed it [annoyance at being on the receiving end of it mostly]
          http://dovetheology.com/2013/01/29/why-christians-should-oppose-the-death-penalty/

          http://www.guidedbiblestudies.com/library/anabaptistbelief.htm

          http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jonathanwilsonhartgrove/2013/03/jesus-at-least-opposed-the-death-penalty/

          http://www.deathpenalty.org/article.php?id=128

          It is simply a matter of choosing to interpret the Bible in a way to serve ends which one finds more important. Some find Christian messages of love of humanity important. Others find Christian messages of strict adherence to select passages more important.

          The further you get from the extreme views of the religion, the more varied the views get. The idea that the most obnoxious members of a faith get sole speaking rights is getting tiresome.

          • LARRY,

            Just so I don’t fall victim to the claim that I “took it out of context”……..

            I read your links. But they are all speculative interpretations. The claim by Jonathan Hartgrove that Jesus opposed the death penalty relies on a premise which has been shown to be false.
            Jesus supported the death penalties of the Old Testament and elaborated on them in the Gospels.

            The Bible is much clearer on this topic. God is very much in favor of the Death Penalty. And Jesus supports all of it:

            Death for Hitting Dad OR SLAPPING MOM.
            Whoever strikes his father or mother shall be put to death. (Exodus 21:15)

            Death for Cursing Parents
            1) If one curses his father or mother, his lamp will go out at the coming of darkness. (Proverbs 20:20)
            2) All who curse their father or mother must be put to death. They are guilty of a capital offense. (Leviticus 20:9)

            Death for Adultery
            If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman must be put to death. (Leviticus 20:10 NLT)

            Death for Fornication
            A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death. (Leviticus 21:9)

            Death to Followers of Other Religions
            Whoever sacrifices to any god, except the Lord alone, shall be doomed. (Exodus 22:19)

            Kill Nonbelievers – Kill those who do not believe
            They entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and soul; and everyone who would not seek the Lord, the God of Israel, was to be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. (2 Chronicles 15:12-13)

            Kill False Prophets
            If a man still prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall say to him, “You shall not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.” When he prophesies, his parents, father and mother, shall thrust him through. (Zechariah 13:3 NAB)

            Kill the Entire Town if One Person Worships Another God
            Suppose you hear in one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you that some worthless rabble among you have led their fellow citizens astray by encouraging them to worship foreign gods. In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find it is true and can prove that such a detestable act has occurred among you, you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the street and burn it. Put the entire town to the torch as a burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt. Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a great nation, just as he solemnly promised your ancestors. “The LORD your God will be merciful only if you obey him and keep all the commands I am giving you today, doing what is pleasing to him.” (Deuteronomy 13:13-19)

            Kill Women Who Are Not Virgins On Their Wedding Night
            But if this charge is true (that she wasn’t a virgin on her wedding night), and evidence of the girls virginity is not found, they shall bring the girl to the entrance of her fathers house and there her townsman shall stone her to death, because she committed a crime against Israel by her unchasteness in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 22:20-21 NAB)

            KILL UNRULY CHILDREN WITH STONES

            Deuteronomy 21:18-21 :
            If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
            Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
            And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
            And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

            Kill Followers of Other Religions.
            1) If your own full brother, or your son or daughter, or your beloved wife, or you intimate friend, entices you secretly to serve other gods, whom you and your fathers have not known, gods of any other nations, near at hand or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: do not yield to him or listen to him, nor look with pity upon him, to spare or shield him, but kill him. Your hand shall be the first raised to slay him; the rest of the people shall join in with you. You shall stone him to death, because he sought to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. And all Israel, hearing of this, shall fear and never do such evil as this in your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:7-12 NAB)

            2) Suppose a man or woman among you, in one of your towns that the LORD your God is giving you, has done evil in the sight of the LORD your God and has violated the covenant by serving other gods or by worshiping the sun, the moon, or any of the forces of heaven, which I have strictly forbidden. When you hear about it, investigate the matter thoroughly. If it is true that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then that man or woman must be taken to the gates of the town and stoned to death. (Deuteronomy 17:2-5 NLT)

            Death for Blasphemy
            One day a man who had an Israelite mother and an Egyptian father got into a fight with one of the Israelite men. During the fight, this son of an Israelite woman blasphemed the LORD’s name. So the man was brought to Moses for judgment. His mother’s name was Shelomith. She was the daughter of Dibri of the tribe of Dan. They put the man in custody until the LORD’s will in the matter should become clear. Then the LORD said to Moses, “Take the blasphemer outside the camp, and tell all those who heard him to lay their hands on his head. Then let the entire community stone him to death. Say to the people of Israel: Those who blaspheme God will suffer the consequences of their guilt and be punished. Anyone who blasphemes the LORD’s name must be stoned to death by the whole community of Israel. Any Israelite or foreigner among you who blasphemes the LORD’s name will surely die. (Leviticus 24:10-16 NLT)

            Kill False Prophets
            1) Suppose there are prophets among you, or those who have dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles take place. If the prophets then say, ‘Come, let us worship the gods of foreign nations,’ do not listen to them. The LORD your God is testing you to see if you love him with all your heart and soul. Serve only the LORD your God and fear him alone. Obey his commands, listen to his voice, and cling to him. The false prophets or dreamers who try to lead you astray must be put to death, for they encourage rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of slavery in the land of Egypt. Since they try to keep you from following the LORD your God, you must execute them to remove the evil from among you. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NLT)

            2) But any prophet who claims to give a message from another god or who falsely claims to speak for me must die.’ You may wonder, ‘How will we know whether the prophecy is from the LORD or not?’ If the prophet predicts something in the LORD’s name and it does not happen, the LORD did not give the message. That prophet has spoken on his own and need not be feared. (Deuteronomy 18:20-22 NLT)

            Infidels and Gays Should Die
            So God let them go ahead and do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other’s bodies. Instead of believing what they knew was the truth about God, they deliberately chose to believe lies. So they worshiped the things God made but not the Creator himself, who is to be praised forever. Amen. That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relationships with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men and, as a result, suffered within themselves the penalty they so richly deserved. When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done. Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, fighting, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. They are backstabbers, haters of God, insolent, proud, and boastful. They are forever inventing new ways of sinning and are disobedient to their parents. They refuse to understand, break their promises, and are heartless and unforgiving. They are fully aware of God’s death penalty for those who do these things, yet they go right ahead and do them anyway. And, worse yet, they encourage others to do them, too. (Romans 1:24-32 NLT)

            Kill Anyone who Approaches the Tabernacle
            For the LORD had said to Moses, ‘Exempt the tribe of Levi from the census; do not include them when you count the rest of the Israelites. You must put the Levites in charge of the Tabernacle of the Covenant, along with its furnishings and equipment. They must carry the Tabernacle and its equipment as you travel, and they must care for it and camp around it. Whenever the Tabernacle is moved, the Levites will take it down and set it up again. Anyone else who goes too near the Tabernacle will be executed.’ (Numbers 1:48-51 NLT)

            Kill People for Working on the Sabbath
            The LORD then gave these further instructions to Moses: ‘Tell the people of Israel to keep my Sabbath day, for the Sabbath is a sign of the covenant between me and you forever. It helps you to remember that I am the LORD, who makes you holy. Yes, keep the Sabbath day, for it is holy. Anyone who desecrates it must die; anyone who works on that day will be cut off from the community. Work six days only, but the seventh day must be a day of total rest. I repeat: Because the LORD considers it a holy day, anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.’ (Exodus 31:12-15 NLT)

            2) God’s Murders for Stupid Reasons:

            Kill Brats
            From there Elisha went up to Bethel. While he was on his way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him. “Go up baldhead,” they shouted, “go up baldhead!” The prophet turned and saw them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two shebears came out of the woods and tore forty two of the children to pieces. (2 Kings 2:23-24 NAB)

            God Kills the Curious
            And he smote of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of Jehovah, he smote of the people seventy men, `and’ fifty thousand men; and the people mourned, because Jehovah had smitten the people with a great slaughter. And the men of Beth-shemesh said, Who is able to stand before Jehovah, this holy God? and to whom shall he go up from us? (1Samuel 6:19-20 ASV)

            Killed by a Lion
            Meanwhile, the LORD instructed one of the group of prophets to say to another man, “Strike me!” But the man refused to strike the prophet. Then the prophet told him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, a lion will kill you as soon as you leave me.” And sure enough, when he had gone, a lion attacked and killed him. (1 Kings 20:35-36 NLT)

            Killing the Good Samaritan
            The ark of God was placed on a new cart and taken away from the house of Abinadab on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab guided the cart, with Ahio walking before it, while David and all the Israelites made merry before the Lord with all their strength, with singing and with citharas, harps, tambourines, sistrums, and cymbals.
            When they came to the threshing floor of Nodan, Uzzah reached out his hand to the ark of God to steady it, for the oxen were making it tip. But the Lord was angry with Uzzah; God struck him on that spot, and he died there before God. (2 Samuel 6:3-7 NAB)

            3) Murdering Children

            Kill Sons of Sinners
            Make ready to slaughter his sons for the guilt of their fathers; Lest they rise and posses the earth, and fill the breadth of the world with tyrants. (Isaiah 14:21 NAB)

            God Will Kill Children
            The glory of Israel will fly away like a bird, for your children will die at birth or perish in the womb or never even be conceived. Even if your children do survive to grow up, I will take them from you. It will be a terrible day when I turn away and leave you alone. I have watched Israel become as beautiful and pleasant as Tyre. But now Israel will bring out her children to be slaughtered.” O LORD, what should I request for your people? I will ask for wombs that don’t give birth and breasts that give no milk. The LORD says, “All their wickedness began at Gilgal; there I began to hate them. I will drive them from my land because of their evil actions. I will love them no more because all their leaders are rebels. The people of Israel are stricken. Their roots are dried up; they will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children.” (Hosea 9:11-16 NLT)

            Kill Men, Women, and Children
            “Then I heard the LORD say to the other men, “Follow him through the city and kill everyone whose forehead is not marked. Show no mercy; have no pity! Kill them all – old and young, girls and women and little children. But do not touch anyone with the mark. Begin your task right here at the Temple.” So they began by killing the seventy leaders. “Defile the Temple!” the LORD commanded. “Fill its courtyards with the bodies of those you kill! Go!” So they went throughout the city and did as they were told.” (Ezekiel 9:5-7 NLT)

            God Kills all the First Born of Egypt
            And at midnight the LORD killed all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn son of the captive in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. (Exodus 12:29-30 NLT)

            Kill Old Men and Young Women
            “You are my battle-ax and sword,” says the LORD. “With you I will shatter nations and destroy many kingdoms. With you I will shatter armies, destroying the horse and rider, the chariot and charioteer. With you I will shatter men and women, old people and children, young men and maidens. With you I will shatter shepherds and flocks, farmers and oxen, captains and rulers. “As you watch, I will repay Babylon and the people of Babylonia for all the wrong they have done to my people in Jerusalem,” says the LORD. “Look, O mighty mountain, destroyer of the earth! I am your enemy,” says the LORD. “I will raise my fist against you, to roll you down from the heights. When I am finished, you will be nothing but a heap of rubble. You will be desolate forever. Even your stones will never again be used for building. You will be completely wiped out,” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 51:20-26)
            (Note that after God promises the Israelites a victory against Babylon, the Israelites actually get their butts kicked by them in the next chapter. So much for an all-knowing and all-powerful God.)

            God Will Kill the Children of Sinners
            If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins. I will release wild animals that will kill your children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted. (Leviticus 26:21-22 NLT)

            Who do you think said this? God or Satan? :
            “If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey, I will inflict you with seven more disasters for your sins. I will release wild animals that will kill your innocent children and destroy your cattle, so your numbers will dwindle and your roads will be deserted.” (Leviticus 26:21-22)

            With friends like god who needs the Devil?

            More Rape and Baby Killing
            Anyone who is captured will be run through with a sword. Their little children will be dashed to death right before their eyes. Their homes will be sacked and their wives raped by the attacking hordes. For I will stir up the Medes against Babylon, and no amount of silver or gold will buy them off. The attacking armies will shoot down the young people with arrows. They will have no mercy on helpless babies and will show no compassion for the children. (Isaiah 13:15-18 NLT)

            4) Miscellaneous Murders
            More of Samson’s Murders
            (The Lord saves Sampson from standing trial for 30 murders and arson by allowing him to kill 1000 more men.) When he reached Lehi, and the Philistines came shouting to meet him, the spirit of the Lord came upon him: the ropes around his arms become as flax that is consumed by fire and the bonds melted away from his hands. Near him was the fresh jawbone of an ass; he reached out, grasped it, and with it killed a thousand men. (Judges 15:14-15 NAB)

            Peter Kills Two People
            There was also a man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. He brought part of the money to the apostles, but he claimed it was the full amount. His wife had agreed to this deception. Then Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God.” As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. Then some young men wrapped him in a sheet and took him out and buried him. About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” “Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.” And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of doing a thing like this – conspiring together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Just outside that door are the young men who buried your husband, and they will carry you out, too.” Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. Great fear gripped the entire church and all others who heard what had happened. (Acts 5:1-11 NLT)

            Peter kills two people, Ananias and his wife, in the New Testament – Acts (5:1-11)

            Mass Murder
            This is what the Lord of hosts has to say: ‘I will punish what Amalek did to Israel when he barred his way as he was coming up from Egypt. Go, now, attack Amalek, and deal with him and all that he has under the ban. Do not spare him, but kill men and women, children and infants, oxen and sheep, camels and asses.’ (1 Samuel 15:2-3 NAB)

            You Have to Kill
            Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood. (Jeremiah 48:10 NAB)

            GOD COMMANDS – KILL YOUR NEIGHBOR:

            “Cursed be he who does the Lords work remissly, cursed he who holds back his sword from blood.” (Jeremiah 48:10)

            The Danites Kill the Next Town
            But the territory of the Danites was too small for them; so the Danites marched up and attacked Leshem, which they captured and put to the sword. Once they had taken possession of Lesham, they renamed the settlement after their ancestor Dan. (Joshua 19:47 NAB)

            God Kills Some More
            Then the LORD said to me, “Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight! And if they say to you, ‘But where can we go?’ tell them, ‘This is what the LORD says: Those who are destined for death, to death; those who are destined for war, to war; those who are destined for famine, to famine; those who are destined for captivity, to captivity.’ “I will send four kinds of destroyers against them,” says the LORD. “I will send the sword to kill, the dogs to drag away, the vultures to devour, and the wild animals to finish up what is left. Because of the wicked things Manasseh son of Hezekiah, king of Judah, did in Jerusalem, I will make my people an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.” (Jeremiah 15:1-4 NLT)

            GOD SAYS GO AND KILL MORE – EVEN IF THEY SAY THEY ARE SORRY! :
            “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me pleading for these people, I wouldn’t help them. Away with them! Get them out of my sight!” (JEREMIAH 15:1-7)
            How can you believe this is merciful?

            I know. I left out 540 other things for which DEATH is the penalty.
            I hope I won’t be stoned to death for it.

          • Anyone who thinks religion is anything but “speculative interpretations” is full of it. Its the nature of the beast. Nobody has a monopoly on what the Bible means.

            You are taking it as literally as any fundamentalist. It is fine if you are arguing against one or someone claiming Biblical inerrancy and literally. But that was never not my point. Plenty of sects allow a bit of “give” in what they chose to accept as important. Are they “true Christians”? They would think so as much as any other sect.

            Claiming the Bible is really clear on any given subject is ridiculous when it is coming from people who claim their POV is the sole word of God as much as it is by people looking at interpretations

            Bible quote dumps are as easy to ignore and ridiculous when done by fundies as they are by atheists. There is plenty of foolishness in the Bible which is out of touch with modern society and worth ignoring. I am not arguing against that. But some sects find enough in there to support humanistic causes as well.

            [In other words, despite being an atheist I am not going to rag on the Quakers. I appreciate their democratic culture, secularism and and their long history of supporting social equality. ]

          • LARRY,

            You talk about religion as if it is benign, as if The Bible is mostly harmless. That is what bothers me. It is an ongoing disaster.

            This is the message of Jesus:
            “Love your enemies, but hate mine”

            And so every kind of repression, and oppression is set in motion at the direction of such doctrines – from one group to another. It is an ongoing outrage.

          • LARRY,

            You said,
            “But some sects find enough in there to support humanistic causes as well.”

            So does Hamas and Hezbollah! That doesn’t make it true and it doesn’t mean that it is correct!

            It is disgraceful, first because it seems you don’t care about the truth.
            Second, because countless children will be lied to about their rights, not only regarding their own bodies but to their own minds! For shame!

            Religion poisons everything.

      • Duane Lamersq

        Apparently the concept of justice has no place in the discussion. Sects have their right to disavow capital punishment, but it is an arbitrary disavowal that rejects the long history of the concept of retributive justice.

        I sometimes wonder whether disavowal is premised on the “Who am I to judge?” mindset–which is itself a judgment of sorts. In some instances the disavowal might have a more insidious cause: the premise being that all truth is relative.

        We can argue about the conditions that might merit capital punishment, true. I reject the premise that the death penalty is a deterrent, but I do not think that its failure as a deterrent is grounds for abolishing it.

        • Various sects have a right to their opinion, but you won’t take it seriously or consider it valid if it disagrees with your own. How very self-righteous and arrogant of you.

          The only people who consider the truth “relative” are those who think it is relative to their own view. That they are somehow entitled to their own facts, like yourself.

          The most common religious argument against capital punishment is that life is sacred and not for the state to take away. The other is that it is a punishment which is never meted out in a just fashion nor can be when adopted by government. [This usually comes from sects who were frequently the lethal state-based religious persecution]

          I find retribution is important, but only for those crimes which go beyond the pale of what civilized society can tolerate. Mass murder, serial murder, or murder for hire. But the death penalty is NEVER applied so selectively and some say it can never be that way. Since they believe it can’t be ever applied in a just fashion, it must be opposed.

          • Larry, what you say in your concluding paragraph is what I have in mind in referring to retributive justice and capital punishment. I also agree with you that capital punishment has a history of “unequal distribution,” that money does buy an escape. Sometimes money can buy “not guilty” verdicts when the guilt is obvious.

            Name a fact, I dare you, that is entirely my own, “made up.”.

            I doubt you even know the concept of relativism as it relates to truth and morals and as the term is understood by everyone except yourself. You’re heavily into reinventing language to suit your purposes, and I’m calling you on it. I suspect we’ll hear no more from you on this point as you “move on’ to other areas of interest.

          • Duane, you constantly cry “liberal media lies!!!” when you read something which is embarrassing to conservatives or fundamentalists. If facts disagree with your worldview you are happy to dismiss them by alleging they are fiction.

            Moral relativism is the essence of religious morality. Religious morality is arbitrary, sometimes capricious and entirely subjective for what your secular goals are. Objectively harmful acts are OK if done against heathens. Lying is OK if done in Christ’s name (as many seem to think).

            Deferring to unquestioned authority as one does in religious morality is not making a moral decision. It is the very opposite of such things. It is outsourcing morality to others to absolve one of making their own judgments. When one is willing to do so, they are more than willing to act in harmful, destructive ways because the authority figure commands it. Relativism at its worst form. The form of morality your are stumping for.

            Acting out of self interest (worries about an afterlife) is not moral action either. Morality involves thinking beyond one’s self interest.

          • Larry, I never cried “media lies.” Again, you seem to lack any reading skills. I have noted here and elsewhere that the liberal media is not so much guilty of lying as it is guilty of either ignoring important “news” stories altogether (a 6-figure gathering of protestors in DC is news) or leaving out significant details in a story that would give viewers or readers reason to conclude that the story is deliberately incomplete.

            Given the perspective of leftists, that all truth is relative and only meant to serve their particular purposes, I understand fully the slant you take and the judgments you make both about topics and “disagreeable” posters.

            You have yet to learn the concept of moral relativism as it is discussed in any context. You’ll have to troll beyond leftist websites, however, to gain an understanding of the subject. That crowd will have nothing to do with the topic because it would force them to examine their own “sources” of truth. That they will not do because it represents an attack on the autonomous self. Yep.

        • Whether we personally like the Death Penalty or not, consulting the Bible will certainly result in approval of it.

          It is another reason to reject religion.
          We cannot allow such ancient nonsense to dictate these ideas to us in the modern age.

          • You can make the Bible support anything. All it takes is a little rhetorical creativity. =)

            We cannot let purely religious ideas be the driver in modern laws and society.

            When in doubt it is always good to refer to the test set out by the Supreme Court in Lemon V. Kurtzman (1971)
            [All three must be met to avoid Establishment Clause conflict]
            1. The government’s action must have a secular legislative purpose;

            2. The government’s action must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion;

            3. The government’s action must not result in an “excessive government entanglement” with religion.

    • What do you even mean by that? Are you suggesting that Churches are successful only when their practitioners approve of the death penalty? I’m confused.

  1. Robert Sage, Turner

    What does the Bible say about the Death Penalty, if a person new he was going to be put to death,,, don’t you think he/she would think before killing?
    Same with a Rapest if he new he was going to loose his Testicals, don’t you think he would THINK before acting, you BET he would, same with Killers and why are they left to live fore years on Death row? Lawyers Paradice.

    Robert

    • Nope. Never worked as a deterrent, never will.

      The death penalty has never reduced crime in any nation which had it. Certainly has done nothing for those states which have it. The big problem is the death penalty is always handed down based on racial and social class lines. It is never purely for the most incorrigible of the criminal society.

      We have those people sitting on death row for such a long time because some people get a little hesitant to execute innocent people or those railroaded into prison. If the state is going to kill its citizens, it better well be sure of itself.

      The death penalty only works if it is against the worst of the worst. Serial/spree killers and killers for hire. People with such an indifference to human life than they must be punished by society. There is no suitable alternative (8th Amendment friendly) sentence in light of the gravity of their crimes.

      But that never happens.

      • LARRY,

        You said, “The death penalty has never reduced crime in any nation which had it. Certainly has done nothing for those states which have it.”

        Kinda makes you wonder why God commands it so often.
        He wiped out all the sinners leaving only Noah and family – yet evil was not wiped out after all.

        Capital punishment is God’s worst failure indeed.

        • Notice how I do not refer to what the Bible says to form my opinion on the subject.

          My take on it is if someone is willing to say the Bible supports their rational and humane behavior, I am not going to argue with them. If they use it as an excuse to act like jerks and be harmful to humanity at large, they deserve swift and blinding argument

          • LARRY,
            I know too many people who have had their lives ruined by religion to be so casual about it. Christian doctrine has caused nothing but disaster to my family:

            “Give no thought for the morrow”
            “Ask and ye shall receive”
            “Let God carry the burden”
            “Forgive not 7 times, but 7 times 70″
            “being homosexual is wrong”

            This crap will destroy your life.

            My parents were very religious and forgave a psychotic man after he was violent with my grandmother. The result? We have been permanently scarred by the traumas that followed.

            2 gay friends are dead because of Leviticus. They lived in Turkey.

            I don’t know how people can be so casual about this insanity.

          • Not casual.

            Just willing to give religious people a break when they act in a socially responsible and just way and willing to condemn them when they don’t.

    • You needed the Bible to tell you that????

      Yes, cutting off the testicles of a man who raped someone is probably the perfect punishment.
      Glad the Bible exists to solve that puzzling conundrum! DUH!

      • Something to consider: Much discussion of capital punishment and other aspects of societal existence is centered here on what is commonly called the Old Testament. Christianity is focussed on what is called the New. While Jesus was a Jew, we don’t find him giving much consideration to the Old Law.

        We have good reason to question whether Jesus accepted any of what we consider extreme forms of punishment found in the OT. His message takes an entirely different turn. We do find him excoriating some Jews for their hypocrisy.

        • DUANE LAMERS,

          Here is only some of the abundant evidence that Jesus FULLY ENDORSED the Old Testament Laws:

          1. Jesus quoted the Laws of Moses.
          Jesus answered him, “It is said, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” (Luke, 4:12)

          2. “Do NOT think that I have come to abolish the law [Old Testament] or the prophets…” (Matthew 5:17)

          3. “Jesus said,..the [Old Testament] scripture cannot be broken.” – Jesus, (John 10:35)

          4. “For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 5:18-19)

          5. Jesus used the Old Testament as an excuse to play the role of “transgressor” and purchase weapons for battle (Luke 23:36-38).

          6. “It is easier for Heaven and Earth to pass away than for the smallest part of the letter of the law to become invalid.” (Luke 16:17)

          7. Peter says that all slaves should “be subject to [their] masters with all fear,” to the bad and cruel as well as the “good and gentle.” This is merely an echo of the same slavery commands in the Old Testament. (1 Peter 2:18)

          8. Jesus said, “Did not Moses give you the law [of stoning], and yet none of you keepeth the law” (John 7:19)

          9. Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? …. ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’(Matthew 15:3).

          10. Jesus said, “Follow the Commandments..” and He includes Leviticus! (Mark 10:19 ‘do not defraud’)

          • Max, these quotes do not support the notion that Jesus fully endorsed all OT prescriptions.

            By the way, I took the trouble to look up your citation of Matthew 15:3. If you read the context in which this is spoken–read the first 7 verses or so of the chapter–you’ll get an entirely different understanding of Jesus’s words.

            Context is important for any understanding of anything written by anyone. Which brings me to the subject of pulling words or phrases out of the Constitution without looking at the context: the overall actual message of the Document and the thoughts of the Founders who wrote it. Algore’s “expanded” reading of the Document is an attempt to circumvent context and even the plain meaning of words in order to foster his own agenda regarding government. This is the nub of the culture war. He didn’t start it. He is just one of the more recent silly proponents of that stuff.

        • DUANE LAMERS,

          We have every reason to believe that Jesus would would change nothing in the Old Testament.

          That should stop Christianity immediately in its tracks. But Christians would rather pretend.

          • I disagree that we “have every reason to believe . . . .” There simply is no evidence for this assertion. An example: He told some people who were making a judgment about someone: “He who is without guilt can cast the first stone.” If he fully approved of stoning, he would not have said this.

    • In an effort to “Do as God did” millions have been killed.
      Love your enemies? Yes!
      But NEVER LOVE the Lord’s enemies, THEY are to be killed:

      Jesus didn’t forgive his enemies – he sent them to Hell.(Mark 16:16)
      Jesus cursed his enemies – “Thou Fools!”, “swine!”(Matt. 23:17)
      Jesus stole things – “untie them” “and bring them to me” (Matt. 21:2-3)
      Jesus destroyed his enemies – “execute them in front of me”(Luke 19:27)
      He didn’t love most of his neighbors, – They are ‘Dogs’!(Matthew 15:26)
      Jesus told people to judge others – “Remove your blessings”!(Matt 10:14)
      He was bigoted – “They are swine” (Matthew 7:6)
      Jesus violently whipped people – attack on the temple (John 2:5)
      He didn’t want peace – “I do not bring peace.”(Matt 10:34)
      Jesus lied to people – “He went in secret” (John 7:8-13)
      Jesus prepared for war – “if you have money, buy a sword” (Luke 22:36-37)

      “Utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not, but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling.” (1 Samuel 15:3)
      “have sex with comely women as you wish.” (Deuteronomy 21:10-14)
      “Save for yourselves every girl who is a virgin.” (Numbers 31:18)
      “Enslave everyone in the villages.” (Deut. 20:10)
      “Kill my enemies” (Luke 19:27)
      “I the Lord…create evil” (Isaiah 45:7)
      “Do not make peace with your neighbor on the land” (EXODUS 34:15)
      “remove your blessing of peace” (Matt 10:14)
      “submit to your husbands” (Ephesians 5:22)
      “Raping a neighbor’s wife is a correct punishment.” (2 Samuel 12:11)

      There are alternatives to Religion.

      My alternative is built on practical reason and fairness.
      The United States Constitution.

      • Love that last line. I presume you stand fully behind the plain words of that Document as written and amended. If all of us did, we wouldn’t have been experiencing these “wars” within the country that have been going on for most of our lives.

        • DUANE LAMERS,

          The US Constitution isn’t perfect.
          But we are all working on it, aren’t we? It is a stunning document.

          Who is working on the Bible? You must take the talking snake, Jonah and the fish and Abraham’s attempt to kill his son, Isaac as part of the same story!
          Anyone working on updating that nonsense, yet? Thought not.

          • Indeed, the Constitution as originally written was not perfect, and we all can have suggestions to improve on it. The argument between conservatives and liberals–the basic argument that has been the source of the culture wars for as long as you have been living, likely, is the failure of liberalism to accept the Constitutional requirement that the Document be amended in order to effect changes. Liberals, finding this too onerous a pursuit and finding their own positions at variance with the will of the majority, have found that packing the judiciary is the way to get around the problems.

            The most recent and glaring example of the liberals’ success is the SCOTUS decision to consider Obamacare legal. Yes, and it did this with the support of John Roberts.

            As for the Biblical stories, take Abraham. We do not have to condone the near sacrifice of Isaac. The lesson from this story is that Abraham was so committed to carrying out God’s commands that he would do this as directed. Note, too, that he was “undirected” to do it. Does that tell us anything about the basic natural law against murder? I think the story reinforces this law.

            Did the event actually happen? We’ll never know. It’s not important. What is important is the lesson we can learn from the story itself. In this case, it is a lesson about commitment. That concept seems to get lost these days. We have high divorce rates, a flood of litigationin the courts, and simply running away from obligations freely undertaken as proof of it. No?

  2. Killing a murderer is violent and wrong , right ? How about the one they kill? How about all the future murders they may commit when the liberal judges and prison boards allow them a shortened sentence ? It does not do anything to deter future crimes ? It sure does because they can’t ever murder anyone else. That’s the final solution.

    • I am so glad you are possessed of omniscience to know exactly what transpired to someone who is convicted of a major crime. You know every person convicted was done so with reasonable evidence and proper court procedures. /s

      Of course life without possibility of parole does the same thing deterrent-wise. Only without the insane appeals process or the possibility of the state killing people who were convicted wrongly or convicted on crappy evidence. Its not like the Batman comics. People do not escape from prison very easily.

      Execution is merely bloodlust given legal form.

    • FRANK,
      Where in the Bible is it written that human life is sacred?
      I have found nothing.

      “Thou shalt not murder” is not an affirmation of life. Especially since God commands capital punishment for almost every crime.

      Please tell me where God claims that human life is sacred for what it is
      without some kind of servility as its justification.

  1. […] Younger Christians Less Supportive of Death Penalty “When asked if they agreed that “the government should have the option to execute the worst criminals,” 42 percent of self-identified Christian boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, said “yes.” Only 32 percent of self-identified Christian millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, said the same thing.” […]

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