syringe, death penalty, religion, church, Bible, executionFor many years, lethal injection has been the preferred method of state-sanctioned executions in America’s prisons, but that may not be true for long. The ethics of lethal injection have been called into question multiple times in the past decade and now chemical manufacturers are starting to abandon the creation of lethal injection compounds altogether. In response, some states are pursuing alternative execution methods. Such is the case with Oklahoma’s recent decision to add execution by nitrogen gas hypoxia, aka the gas chamber, to its prison system.

For Oklahoma legislators and proponents of the death penalty, the use of nitrogen gas chambers in executions is a matter of addressing ethical concerns about cruel and unusual punishment while still allowing for capital punishment. But for opponents of the death penalty in general, it seems utterly backward for ethical discussions to include execution at all. Among the most vocal anti-execution activists in America are those compelled by their faith.

The issue of the death penalty is a complex one regarding people of faith. Many religious organizations are on both sides of the issue, though studies conducted by Gallup in recent years suggest that the most observant religious Americans are less likely to support the death penalty in any form.

Even within many major world religions, death as a punishment for crimes isn’t as common as one may think. Though the Bible is clear in its support of capital punishment for a variety of sins, subsequent commentaries by saints, sages, and other noted thinkers call the practice into question.

For those of monotheistic faiths, it must be determined whether or not execution counts as “lawful slaying” as opposed to “murder.” Linguistically, the Ten Commandments don’t forbid all killing. Rather, the commandment often translated as “Thou Shalt Not Kill” originally appears as the Hebrew phrase “Lo Tirtzakh,” literally “No Murder,” the act of unjust killing. Regarding this distinction, functionally all sages of the Jewish commentary documents, the Talmud, reject the death penalty in all but the most extreme cases, especially considering the grave sin that would be the accidental execution of an innocent person.

This same debate continues in nearly all faiths in America today. Is the death penalty “just slaying” or “murder”? Is it a great enough moral imperative to execute the worst sinners that it’s worth risking the accidental execution of an innocent person? Is there even such a thing as “ethical” execution? Some would say yes, but as the plummeting numbers of executions and supporters of the death penalty indicate, our society leans ever more toward no.

For those convicted of the most heinous crimes, should we kill them now or let them rot until they die in prison…what do you think?

109 comments

  1. J. Paul Lanier says:

    I vote for life in prison. It’s humane. It leaves open the possibility for reversal because of an incorrect verdict of guilty. And it costs less than execution, with all its appeals.

    1. Dudley Baker-Beall says:

      I agree. Before Capital Punishment was abandoned in the UK, there were several executions of people who would have been pardoned or had their tariff reduced in the light of forensic evidence that was subsequently available. Perhaps the State could offer voluntary euthanasia to those given life imprisonment, but I can not condone killing another human just for retribution.

      1. Des says:

        Never kill what you do not want to eat.
        live by this and you will live happy.

      2. Terry Hayes says:

        This is a very good idea. Once you kill someone new evidence cannot bring people back. The death penalty has not been shown as a deterrent to crime.

    2. J R Erickson says:

      If there is absolutely no question of guilt, ie, several witnesses that saw the killing and swear to it in a court of law, then, I say execution is just. If you go way back, however, those found guilty were also put in work or slave camps to work. They were not confined to prisons where they were treated better than the poor on the streets. It is hard to find justice with man’s law. HOWEVER, God’s law is clear. If you deliberately with calculation and malice kill another, your life, in turn, is also taken. This to me, is justice, not man’s justice but God’s justice. God, in turn, deals with his eternal soul.

      1. David A Griffith says:

        What about those that do not believe in your God? Should they have to follow your beliefs? Who says that the “witnesses” are telling the truth, many times they lie to get a lesser sentence or did not see what they thought they saw. There have been many studies showing witnesses do not see what they think they saw.

        1. J R Erickson says:

          I’m believing that ours is the same God, first of all. If, for instance, there is a group of people who are in an area and one person comes up with a baseball bat and just literally beats another person to death. Witnesses, perhaps even a judge or two in the group….if there are reliable witnesses to the event and there is no question of guilt. Under those circumstances, I do believe that if you take a life willfully and with planning then you are guilty of murder and that if you take a life, you should be expecting that yours also will be taken.

      2. Mark says:

        I think what has to be considered is are we basing the idea of whether or not to impose the death penalty or not is not a decision for those of the faith to make, in the time of Jesus did he not say give under to Ceasar what is due to to Ceasar? Meaning you have to obey the law of the land, will all be saved? Yes, this is what God’s wants, but in reality No, all will not be saved we know this as a truth, I have witnessed some truly horrendous crimes committed from one human to another and in those incidences if those guilty of the crimes wouldn’t ask God for forgiveness even if they spent a hundred years in prison.

        I think our justice system is the right way to go the idea of being judged by your peers, this way those of us that are of the faith if put on a jury can way in according to each owns decision. I believe this is fair and a just way to go. Is killing someone something anyone wants to do? I would hope not but we see and hear about it every day so I would base my decision on a case by case basis. When we go to war is that justified killing because we don’t think, feel, or believe the way another does?

        If the majority of a state or country, made-up of many different types of people saved, not saved, religious not religious decide to impose it then I guess it would be your choice to live there or not. So I guess the question is whether you want to live in that particular place or not the choice is yours.

    3. Bud Cooper says:

      There will still be all those appeals anyway.

    4. Sandra says:

      I beg to differ–Life in prison is the easy way out–they get food clothing shelter and have nothing to absolutely worry about on the outside–and us taxpayers are footing the bill–I still go by the saying an eye for an eye tooth for tooth

    5. Terry Hayes says:

      The idea of the death penalty was to make a criminal aware that they would face harsh consequences for their action. With the increase in violent crimes we can see that such a threat is ineffective. Remove the moral issue of execution. If a person violated the norms of society they should be removed from society. In the most heinous crimes the death penalty sets the criminal free because they no longer have to face the troubles of life while their victims will go through life remembering the trauma that they endured. Life in prison allows benefits for the criminal. What if prison meant that if you cannot live by societies rule you will be removed from society never to seen by another person again. The criminal becomes a caged animal. Unusual and cruel punishment? Yes it is. But is it any more cruel than the willful act of murder, or rape to a victim?

  2. Daniel Gray says:

    Yes the Bible DOES allow the death penalty, and in fact in some books it calls for it.

    The Book of Exodus 21:24 in the Hebrew Bible says, “The penalty shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”

    The Book of Deuteronomy 19:21 uses even stronger language: “Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”

    And the Book of Leviticus 24:20 says again, “Anyone who maims another shall suffer the same injury in return: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The injury he inflicted on another shall be inflicted on him.”

    In Matthew 5:38 it says “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.’

    Matthew 5:21
    “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’

    So yes the Bible DOES call for the death penalty in some instances.

    1. shabby says:

      I think you are arguing against a made up position that is not put forth in the article. At no point does the article claim the Bible is against killing people off. In fact it says, “…the Bible is clear in its support of capital punishment for a variety of sins…”

      1. Daniel Gray says:

        I think you need to re-read the thread article. The question was asked and answered.

    2. second says:

      Mr. Gray: It would seem as though you may have missed the point of Matthew 5:38.
      38 You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’
      39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.
      40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.
      41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles.
      42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

      1. David A Griffith says:

        That is very typical of faith. They only take the verses that work for their argument and leave the rest out.

        1. Daniel Gray says:

          I am not taking anything. The theme of the thread was DOES the bible condone the death penalty. And the answer is yes it does. Anything else you try to force into this discussion is a moot point and only YOUR personal beliefs.As such they have no basis in this discussion

        2. Robert Collins says:

          you can’t cherry pick the bible. it doesn’t work that way. never has and never will.

      2. Daniel Gray says:

        I missed nothing. I dont try and interpret it as you are doing. I take it for the way it is written. You are just a man. Who are you to try and interpret what God meant or said?

    3. Robert Collins says:

      what about “thou shalt not kill?”

      1. David A Griffith says:

        That has always bothered me. Some Christians believe that the Bible should not be interpreted yet all it says is that shall not kill. If that is true and they are not interpreting they should not kill anything including animals, plants etc. if it only says thou shall not kill and they say it means humans are they not interpreting the Bible?

      2. Daniel Gray says:

        You have fallen into the trap of the people who translated the bible. The actual command is “Thou shall not commit MURDER” which was shortened to what you see today. There is major difference in the original scriptures and the translated ones.

        1. Robert Collins says:

          as i wrote previously when i was in seminary i knew men and women who studied and translated the bible all of their adult lives and admit they are close but do not have an exact translation.
          what is so hard to understand: “thou shalt not kill?”

          1. Daniel Gray says:

            And what is so hard to understand that the original greek text that the bible was translated from clearly said “Thou shall Not MURDER” it said nothing about “thou shall not kill” as that was shortened from murder to kill in the translations.

            This is fact and has been documented so why you keep insisting on using a wrongly translated part of the Bible makes no sense.

    4. tylerringstad says:

      What most people don’t seem to understand about the Hebrew Bible is that there is no evidence that these “legal codes” (i.e. Leviticus and Deuteronomy, and their attendant themes throughout the Tanakh) were ever actually enforced or used to carry out the law. No evidence at all–we can see records of crimes and punishments during this time, and they have nothing to do with these texts.

      These texts weren’t intended to lay out the law. Rather, these codes functioned more theologically, philosophically, and politically, lying out the order of the world (laying things like boundaries). Deuteronomy, for example, was a text written and released to consolidate the power of King Josiah into Jerusalem. There’s more nuance to the function of these texts, but this understanding is enough for this purpose. The creation and maintenance of universal order is an overarching theme in the Pentateuch and the rest of the text.

      Think about, as another similar-but-not-exactly-the-same example, the Code of Hammurabi–something many children learn about in middle school as “the first law.” Similarly, the Code of Hammurabi was NEVER actually used to carry out the law. Rather, the Code of Hammurabi was WRITTEN and DISPLAYED to the citizens to, in effect, say “Everyone look at how powerful I, Hammurabi, am! I can write!” (Note that Hammurabi was around a very long time before the writing of any of the books in the Hebrew Bible.)

      That all being said, I find capital punishment to be morally repugnant. Eyes are eyes and teeth are teeth, but I refuse to take either of those as some sort of twisted synecdoche for the life of a human being.

      1. Robert Collins says:

        then junk the 10 commandments

        1. tylerringstad says:

          I don’t think we have to junk anything. We just have to examine the intended purposes of these texts, for they are wonderful and useful!

      2. Daniel Gray says:

        You are talking about the Torah, and sorry these codes ARE in the Torah. You would have known that if you had bothered to check with a Rabbi.

    5. Mr. Min - Raymond Lams says:

      Leviticus also puts forth many dietary and dressing laws as well as mixing colors, what dishes to use, etc. Do we follow them? Jesus came as a fulfillment of the Old Testament. By the way, Capital Punishment is murder in and of itself. When humans take another life, it is murder – no two ways about it. Only God can take a life.

      1. Daniel Gray says:

        NOT the question that was asked Mr. Min. Nice try to obfuscate the thread but it wont work.

  3. Jack says:

    I think in life there are consequences. We are told to obey the laws of the land. If we smoke to much we can get sick. If we eat to much we can get sick. Anything we do that brings harm has consequences. Even if we stop smoking, we can still come down with COPD or cancer and we have weather it through and possibly die. It is a consequence of something we have done. There is a price to pay. As for the death penalty, as long as there is life there is hope that a person can change but it does not stop the law of the land. I could not convict someone to a death sentence but I also cannot change the law of the land. A person has to think about the consequences before doing what they do and know that there will be a price to pay. It is really taken out of our hands and rest with the law makers, the juries and the judges. We may not like it but so it is!

    1. David A Griffith says:

      It is only the law in certain states. Does that mean the states that do not have the death penalty are wrong, or. vice versa?

  4. Chris Coulson says:

    I feel that only God has the right to determine if someone should die. God is the only judge and hasn’t made man the judge as we don’t know the things that God knows about a person.

    1. Hugh Skinner says:

      Very much agreed, Chris! Holy books may be interpreted in many ways, and are, frequently to the detriment of the undeserving.

    2. David A Griffith says:

      What about those that don’t believe in God, or your particular God? Are you not then forcing them to follow something they do not believe according to their God?

  5. Daniel Gray says:

    He already did. And I gave you the bibles different statements about this.

    1. Len DeSecottier says:

      God does not judge until judgement day. He, alone, can do this judgement. The Bible does not give us permission to end a life and therefore take away that person’s potential for penance. It is apparent that the commenter has done no sin requiring no forgiveness and for that I honor you, otherwise allow those who have not sinned cast the first stone.

      1. Daniel Gray says:

        God has already judged well before judgement day. Are you forgetting Noah? Or Sodom? Or the 10 plagues of Egypt? And yes the bible DOES give us the right to end a life, read my original post at the top and you will see different sections of the Bible that clearly authorize us to take a life for murder.

        You really need to READ the bible BEFORE you start to say what is in it, especially when it was so easy to disprove your statement WITH passages from the Bible.

    2. David A Griffith says:

      Most of your examples are from the Old Testament. If you are a Christian you should be using the New Teatament for examples and Jesus Christ said murder is wrong, period.

      1. Daniel Gray says:

        Christ said that you are to follow the WHOLE of the law. So I guess you are now saying that people should ignore what Christ said and taught just because you say so? Are you serious or seriously deluded?

        1. Mary says:

          If you’re going to talk about Christ, please provide an exact biblical reference where Jesus says it’s okay to kill.
          Thank you.

          1. Daniel Gray says:

            Matthew 22:40 “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

            James 2:10 “But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. 10For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”

            Now since Christ and God are the same then this should silence you.

            “The common perception that the God of the Old Testament is vastly different than the God of the New Testament is shown to be untrue. In both the Old and New Testaments, God is described as being loving, and love is emphasized as being the most important of God’s laws. Both Old and New Testaments command people to love their neighbors, and even those who are different or outsiders to our own group. Both Testaments command people to do only good and not seek vengeance when wronged, but to allow the law to punish those who commit crimes. The Old Testament concept of an “eye for an eye” applied only to punishment for serious crimes, like assault and murder, and was not to be carried out by individuals, but only through the judicial system.”

            you are defeated.

        2. Mary says:

          No, Daniel
          This is not a contest. And the book of James is not the gospel…
          You cannot directly quote Jesus saying it is okay to kill because he has never said it’s okay to kill.
          You can only twist his words like so many people who say they follow him and really only want to use his name to rationalize their own hatred and bigoted behavior.

          1. Daniel Gray says:

            I am not twisting anything mary, I was asked to prove something and I took the quotes and sections directly from the Bible. No twisting was done.

          2. Brother John says:

            How about Luke 19:27, Mary?

  6. david leisure says:

    it is up to god to judge but we must follow mans law as will as gods law my self i thank that if you kill god we deal with you when that time comes if you do not turn to god and ask for forgiveness .
    GOD BLESS THEM ALL

  7. Kevin DeFranco says:

    It depends on what you are talking about. Are you talking religion or the Word of God. Remember what Jesus said. “Many will come in my name”, today there are hundreds of religions, and thousands of denominations. The one constant throughout it all is the Word. The Old Testament is very definitive about what is to happen to those who lie in wait to do premeditated criminal homicide. They are to be put to death. Same goes for rape. God says dispatch them to me, for you don’t know how to judge them. If you do this people will see and these things will cease. The Old testament also made exceptions for those who killed someone accidentally. Sanctuary cities were set up to protect alleged perpetrators from the next of kin and from impassioned vengeance. Jesus said in the New Testament that He had not come to change the law but to fulfill it. He was quite specific addressing criminal homicide. As He was the Word made flesh, obedience to the Word of the Old Testament is obedience to Him. With religions though, anything is possible. Religions, and denominations are man’s mechanisms for salvation and the traditions of men rarely coincide with God’s desires. There is no doubt however what God expects man to do in the case of criminal murder, and that is the death penalty.

    1. Daniel Gray says:

      Ok, one question. How do we get them to God UNLESS we dispatch them according to the “eye for an eye” that is in the Bible.

  8. Thom Keach says:

    This is a question I have run through my mind for years. I’m an ex-Marine, I’m a retired Deputy Sheriff so you would think I would be alright with the death penalty. In the majority of cases I’m not in favor of it. But in those cases of extreme violence I believe the convicted person should be totally removed from society. Also the sociopath that should no remorse. And certainly the pedophile that brutalize a child would make the list. At the same time I believe in what I am learning in A Course In Miracles; none of this is real and we need to forgive and heal others. Not just our friends and neighbors but even the sociopath and pedophile. Very difficult for me to do but that’s the course…

    1. Bodhisattva says:

      I too am following the path of forgiveness and have come to the conclusion that even the pedophile must be forgiven and exiled at worst. It certainly is a hard choice to make and not a popular one but it is what is right.

    2. David A Griffith says:

      Forgiveness is the best thing to do to someone.

    3. Tim Stringer says:

      I live in Australia; we recently had two citizens put to death in Indonesia as they were convicted of transporting drugs within that country. I should add that they were not just mules, they were the ring leaders of an organized group, also, they were very aware that Indonesia has the death penalty for those found guilty of drug trafficking. Should they truly be forgiven their sins? And what would have happened if they had not been caught? Would they have gone on to organize more trafficking, or would they have quit after making a massive amount of money from the one run. If they had not been caught, what would have happened to the users, the poor fools that would have bought the drugs from them, or their organization?

      what they did was a heinous crime, no less than murder by firearm or multiple rape, affecting the lives of so many by their callous actions driven by greed to make ‘easy’ money.

      But the death penalty took 10 years to come around and it was carried out by a firing squad. So the brutality of their deaths is not to be condoned, nor the time it took to carry out the sentence. They had admitted guilt, so there was never any doubt about the crime, just the penalty.

      I personally feel that our societies are suffering a malaise that is in part created by our treatment of sociopaths and general social misfits. We are allowing multiple offenders to be ‘rehabilitated’ in prison then continually re-offend. So is the answer capital punishment? I feel it is.

  9. Kevin DeFranco says:

    The only way to dispatch them to God is to follow His orders and implement the death penalty, as per the Bible. The mechanism to dispatch them is not relevant, I feel personally the swiftest way possible, the better. This punishment here is nothing compared with the potential loss they may face after God’s judgment. His will be done.

    1. Gavin Simpson says:

      Well said Kevin. The death penalty and judgement are two separate things. God will judge everyone, no matter what. Like killers have the choice to kill (per personal benefit) we have the choice to make society safer for our children.

      1. David A Griffith says:

        Studies show that the death penalty does not slow down crime. The rates are the same. I keep reading about God and the Bible yet there are many different beliefs by people so why are you assuming that your beliefs are the correct ones? What am I being forced to live by your religious views when I do not believe them?

    2. Len DeSecottier says:

      And the judgement God may make of you for taking his role of judge? No man is God which gives no man the right to act as God.

      1. Gavin Simpson says:

        Methinks you missed my point. If Jesus was not crucified where would we be today? It is not for you or I to judge those that carried out the crucifixion.

        Likewise I say you cannot judge anyone who sentenced a mass murderer to death. You say ‘spare them’, and if they escape and kill again? On who’s shoulders does the blame lie, who’s hands are awash with the blood of those new victims?

        The country I live in that the highest murder and violent crime rate in the world. More often than not it’s repeat offenders. Our criminal justice system is a dismal failure. Unfortunately it is in Africa, so even I would not vote for the death penalty as it would, beyond reasonable doubt, be used to eradicate opposition and enemies of the ruling regime. Tough times.

        So it does depend. The big question is how strong is your countries checks and balances to impose death penalties with no risk of corruption? Very few countries in the worlds can say for sure that their country is risk free.

        As stated by other posters, God does not rule out the death penalty…. and eye for an eye and all that. No man can simply state that God says ‘let these killers live, look after them, feed them, medicate them when needed, let them live a full life, let them vote…. despite their evil deeds.’

        So Len, I disagree. It is perhaps you trying to play God by stating they may not be put down like the animals they are.

    3. tylerringstad says:

      I’d suggest for you to check out my earlier comment. The Bible is a very complex set of texts that we must carefully examine in context, especially if we look to it for a justification in taking life.

  10. Don McCalister Jr says:

    I believe that some crimes are so eggregious as to warrant the death
    penalty, the murder of children for example. However, until our justice system develops a means which prevents the possibility of an innocent person being put to death, I cannot support the death penalty. In cases of confession, DNA which establishes absolute guilt or other uncontestable proof, I support it.

  11. Bonnie says:

    I’m not very religious but killing is killing….it’s not right to kill. I believe that all people are born equal and that killers are killers because of things in there lives that broke them. We’re not born to kill. Mental illness, drugs, upbringings all come into effect. I feel sorry for people that comit terrible crimes….just think what could have happened in their lives to turn them into horrible people.

  12. Stephen Kennedy says:

    I do not believe in punishment. However, dangerous people should be executed. People who are not dangerous should not be in prison. Too simple a solution? Maybe?

  13. Franklin says:

    The death penalty, in itself, isn’t the issue. People die all the time, some expectedly, some unexpectedly. The issue is human dignity – the dignity of both the victim (and family) and the perpetrator (and family). The death penalty doesn’t necessarily negate the dignity of an individual any more than death itself does. It’s what leads up to it that’s dehumanizing.

  14. Don says:

    killing is killing no matter what whether you’re the executioner or the one that murdered

    1. David A Griffith says:

      Is not the executioner a mass murderer? Does he or she show remorse?

  15. Rev. Chris says:

    Rev chris
    I agree with Daniel grey. Eye for an eye. It’s not a matter of money it’s a matter of paying for taking a life with your own

  16. fantumofthewinds says:

    I say let justice fit the crime . I’m not a turn the other cheek, kind person . And I know that when it comes to religion mixing empathy, this is hard to do , but many decisions in life are hard to do , as we all rascal with our own conscience . As for lethal infection , gas chambers and electric chairs , firing squads etc. in my mind of thought, is their really a humane way to kill ? and it is right that they should fill no pain ? after all the causing of pain is what got them here , so am I really to fill empathy for these monsters ? my clear answer is no , let empathy lie with the victims . .

  17. mary therese lemanek says:

    It is telling that rather than addressing the root causes of violence or working towards a means of calling to accountability that allows for positive transformation, energy would be devoted to improve the killing machine. People who have committed heinous crimes are not monsters ~ they have done monstrous things. We are all responsible for our choices but the reality is, some people have far fewer choices than others and have been significantly damaged by the decisions that others made. Violence and killing never ends the cycle of violence and killing.

  18. Dave says:

    If we are all God’s children, and I believe we are, then try to imagine yourself in his place, as a parent, approving of one child killing another. I don’t see it, regardless of what some scribe worked into the Bible.

  19. Pastor Douglas Tatum says:

    The doesn’t say you can’t be forgiven for murder. It just says you can’t be forgiven for it on earth. That means we must send them to the father, so they may be forgiven by their accuser. Amen

    1. Gavin Simpson says:

      Yes, 100% agreed. Amen.

  20. Pastor Douglas Tatum says:

    The Bible doesn’t say you can’t be forgiven for murder. It just says that you can’t be forgiven for it on earth. That means we must send them to the Father, so they may be forgiven by their accuser. Amen.

    1. David A Griffith says:

      When do they get sent, by the death penalty or by natural causes?

  21. Mary says:

    According to the Old Testament, one of the 10 Commandments is “Thou Shalt Not Kill”.
    In the New Testament, when Jesus was dying on the cross his words were not of revenge or hatred, they were
    “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    One of the tenets of Hinduism is Ahimsa-or non-violence.
    Buddhism calls for compassion and non-violence as well…

    Either life is sacred or it is not. We cannot say “Oh, this life is sacred and this life is not”. If killing is wrong, then it is absolutely wrong-no matter whether a person chooses to break the law or the state performs killing in our name.

    Capital punishment is not justice, it is revenge. An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

    Choosing to live according to the teachings of Jesus, Buddha and the other Great Ones is not easy. Choosing to love and forgive in the face of such grievous harm is one of life’s greatest challenges.

    Forgiving in a conscious way does mean that you hold the wrongdoer accountable. Keep them imprisoned so that they may not harm again. This is where our for-profit justice system fails. They make their profits by the numbers of prisoners they house. There is no hope of trying to redeem or rehabilitate people who have committed crimes. This is a waste of precious life energy. In my view of the world, they would be required to spend their life making restitution. Working to offer something constructive to the world. This is what will begin to break the cycle of cruelty, violence and death.

    Problems cannot be solved by the same mindset that created them. Those choosing to live according to the tenets of Christ or the other Great Masters are called to set an example through love.

    1. Brother John says:

      The commandment you’ve quoted is from Exodus 20, Mary. The real 10 Commandments (written on the fabled stone tablets) are in Exodus 34:14-26. This is confirmed in verse 28.

  22. Martha Knight says:

    Jesus said he had come to fulfill the law (the law of the Mosaic Covenant–commandments and other requirements in the Old Testament/Old Covenant). So what part of FULFILL do Christians refuse to understand? Only two commandments remain in force, for Christians: Love God with your whole self, and love others unconditionally. Obviously if we follow those two commandments, the others are superfluous! Since Christians disregard most Old Testament rules and traditions, they can’t very well stand on OT authority for capital punishment.

  23. mike cranford says:

    All you have to do is look at how many people have been exonerated thru the Innocence Project and you should realize the death penalty is a flawed system. Our evolving sense of decency should dictate that we do away with it.

  24. Ronald J. Meyer says:

    An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. Capital punishment for crimes is not only fair, but just. The prisons are full in every state in the United States of America, People who have been found guilty paying for their crimes with time in prison. However, The American Tax Payer is being nickeled and dimes to death with housing and caring for those who have committed crimes of murder, and terror against society. Those convicted deserve the death penalty. No method of carrying out the death penalty can be any more horrible than the methods used by those criminals against society.

    1. Mary says:

      An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.
      This is old testament theology. Obviously you don’t follow the teachings of Christ.

  25. Eugene D. Moore,Sr. says:

    pastor E Moore MARY you sead it GOD is the Justice not man.This is not Capital punishment this is revenge Keep them inprisoned so that they may not harm AGAIN. GOD WILL DO THE RIGHT THING WITH THEM.

  26. J R Erickson says:

    I believe that 100 years ago, people in general were more respectful of the laws that God placed as a guideline for our lives and living. People were more reverent, more were regular Church going individuals that respected the word of God and His teachings. Today’s society seems to have little respect not only for other human life but so many have gotten away from the Church and now we even find the legal system banishing our religion in schools and in public places. God has clearly given us mandates that tell us man is a protector of women and children. He is not to abuse them. When anyone will clear planning and malice takes the life of another, rapes a child and there are witnesses to verify the event and there is no question whatsoever of guilt. The person must forfeit his life. I also believe that if there is question of guilt, a court of law should determine if he is indeed guilty.
    It is true, so many older cases have been found to be mistaken or even planted evidence that would indicate that one person did a crime. With today’s technology, that is more difficult. God has put a responsibility on us to maintain civility towards mankind. There are always going to be those who defy and defile God’s word, his work and his creation of mankind. I don’t believe in random killing. I do believe if there is NO QUESTION of guilt, that an act of deliberate murder, rape has been committed, then, that person has clearly shown that they deserve to give their life for the ones they have taken. I believe that anytime a person murders someone in cold blood, they are or should be aware that their punishment should be the same in kind and their earthly life ended. God will deal with their souls.

  27. Edwin horton says:

    One does get their fill of the do Gooders, who say they don’t believe in capital punishment. This is part of the downward spiral of our country. I say make the punishment tougher. Hanging or firing squad will work fine. Once these criminals have committed murder or other heinous deeds, they loose all rights to civil treatment.Look at California, they have to care for Charles Manson and thugs like him. That costs $1000s of dollars a year , and for what? Manson will never be worth the cost of saving him. Kill them all! Let God sort them out. Ed H.

    1. Reverand R. Wright says:

      Why should law abiding taxpayers spend hundreds of thousands of dollars per inmate. They are aware of the consequences before they commit the act. A family of four can live on what it cost to house one inmate. And live well!

      1. Mary says:

        It costs twice that much to execute someone. When an inmate is given the death penalty, appeals are automatically entered. Not to mention the costs of housing death row inmates, the execution, etc…
        It is NOT cheaper to execute.

    2. Mary says:

      Mr. Horton,

      You are posting on a site for Universal Life Church MINISTERS. To say that you get your fill of do-gooders who say they don’t believe in capital punishment…
      What the heck did you expect to find here…do-badders?

      Either killing is wrong or it isn’t. IMO killing is not okay just because the state does it in our name.

  28. Terri L. Swadey says:

    I don’t have any Bible or other Holy Books to cite, but I do have a real-life revelation, for what it is worth. When my son (now 27) was about 3 years old, I sat on the front steps of our then neighbor and we chatted while our youngsters played in the yard. At one point, our children got into a dispute apparently over a toy, and my neighbor’s son hit my son. My neighbor (the mom of the son) rushed over and grabbed her son by one arm while applying very small swats to his behind (not child abuse, just swats) with the words at every swat, “Don’t ever, ever hit another human being!” That is when I immediately switched my view from for the death penalty (you kill a person, you give up your right to live) to against the death penalty.

    What did that mother teach her child? Don’t ever hit another human being … while she was hitting her child.

    So did that child learn he is not a human being (because he was being hit, so….); or don’t hit another human being unless you are bigger than them or able to get away with it? …. or don’t ever hit another human being unless you think they are right and you are wrong?

    Any which way, it seemed immediately hypocritical to me to hit someone to teach them not to hit someone, so I believe now that the worst thing we can do to those who kill is to kill in the name of stopping killing. When we commit someone to state-sanctioned death, we are just illogical. It does not deter, it says it is okay to kill for certain reasons. And the only reason I can see is self-defense or defense of another. But to kill to teach not to kill…? Illogical! Hypocritical!

    And life in prison…. that is another story for another time, but prisons need to be a place where people are SAFE from harm, but kept from the NATURAL FREEDOMS OF LIFE…. not places of torture or living in fear of harm every day and definitely not places where health is at risk for so many reasons. So I say reform prisons will reform prisoners and lead to healthier societies everywhere.

    The GOLDEN RULE still applies, and it is time we all apply it to our actions.

    That is just my viewpoint.
    I value all other viewpoints.

    Wishing all peace and freedom,
    Terri L. Swadey

  29. Dave W says:

    I live in the UK. We haven’t had the death penalty since 1965. Is there any evidence whatsoever that it reduces the crime rate. I am no expert, but from what anecdotal evidence I can gather it would not appear so.

  30. Thomas Keach says:

    I have wrestled with this issue ever since I was a young deputy sheriff in Los Angeles arresting some of the most violent criminals on the planet. To this day, some 40 plus years later, I am still wrestling with the issue. The spiritual side of me says no death penalty. The retired cop side says hang the bastards! I try to follow and live life based on the teachings of “A Course In Miracles.” This teaching says it’s all an illusion and I should forgive others as it is really myself I am forgiving. (Yea, that’s tough to follow).

    My cop self, and perhaps even even because I am a father and grandfather, I would execute a person that mortally harmed one of my loved ones or especial a child of mine. I would also throw a pedophile under a train if s/he harmed one of my children. Serial murderers would also get lethal injection because these monsters are not likely to quit killing and I wouldn’t want the worry that they might eventually get out of jail on a technicality.

    So I see no answer to this question. Spiritually I believe execution is wrong. But until I become a saint i will continue to support the death penalty in those cases where redemption (in my opinion) is not possible…

    1. Mary says:

      Hello Thomas,
      You’ve walked an interesting path and raise interesting points…thanks for sharing this perspective. Can you share any more about how your spirituality and your studies in a Course in Miracles impacted your work as a Sheriff?

  31. shaun says:

    The truth is we can sit here all day and argue about Capital Punishment and who believes in it and who doesn’t believe. Everyone’s going to have their own opinion about capital punishment. Is it just or isn’t it justified to put another person to death. I have come around this conversation. Plenty of times and have argued with others about the capital punishment and believe me we get into heated arguments about it, but you gotta remember everyone’s gonna have a different outlook on justified punishment for those who murder others so in all actuality This is a hard question to answer. Among our peers.

    So I will let you know in my opinion that capital punishment is justifiable when a person is convicted of the murder by both forensic and DNA testing. I’m not saying the justice system is perfect, it still needs work, but with technology today it’s harder for people to get away with murder. So yes, I believe in the capital punishment of putting someone to death. But it’s just my opinion and my belief.

    I speak out of experience Both being a police officer and a son to a murdered father. I lost my father to a murder But due to lack of evidence, he got away Scott free and the technology back in 1982 was not Developed like it is today. So some people are going to argue with your beliefs and your faith whatever denominational of faith you believe in, but whatever faith you believe in is your faith and not everybody has the same beliefs. it’s the world we live in today. I’m a very spiritual person I was raised as a Protestant, but when I was in my early teens. I was raised in my Native American ways. So I see the difference in both spiritual faith and I have studied many other spiritual faith to help people find their own peace of mind in their faith. Whatever it may be. I wasn’t put on here to judge anyone of their faith and beliefs. I leave that up to the greater power as most Christians and Catholics know That only God has the right to judge us.

    So when I die, and I am asked by my creator why I believe in capital punishment . I will tell my creator why I believe in capital punishment and I will not be ashamed to say why. So remember, whatever makes you feel better about yourself or whatever beliefs and faith you have just know that our Creator understands on how you feel about capital punishment because everybody has a difference of opinion That’s just the human race.

    So remember, pastors, ministers, priests or spiritual guides that we are here to guide those and help them to find their faith and to love one another because that’s what we need here in the world. love and peace and start believing and have faith again, It’s going to be hard because a lot of people have no faith in any denominational Of religion.

    So have Faith and be at peace everyone… Because everyone’s different

    1. Mary says:

      Shaun,
      My condolences on the loss of your father. It is never easy when a parent dies…even more difficult when they are taken through the violent actions of another human being.

      When you have completed this journey of life, I don’t think that you’ll be asked about your belief in capital punishment. I do think that it will be more about the love you’ve given and received while you walked here on earth.

      As for having faith in religion…let’s not confuse the energy current with the light bulb. Truth is One…many are the names. May we all connect to that Divine Spark within us and may we be the reflections of that Divine Love to our fellow human beings.

  32. bob says:

    Kill them. They deserve it. Pay per view. Amazing how libs have no problems with abortion but those truly guilty painless death is too good for them.

    1. Mary says:

      Wow, bob,
      I am amazed at what a warm, fuzzy and non-judgemental guy you are. A Minister of God…so overflowing with love!

  33. keithmcwilliams says:

    There are a number of cases that the inmate does not deserve the death penalty re-trial would be a first order

  34. Ian Duff says:

    I think that should this thread continue about such a contentious issue, there won’t be any room for other matters. Let us, as Ministers take this opportunity for inner reflection on the poor innocent souls who have been wrongfully executed in the name of “the law”.

  35. Tyler says:

    Yes, they are in the Torah, but they were not intended to be legal codes for any society. The Hebrew Bible is not a legal text but a cultural touchstone and great narrative for its people.

    1. Daniel Gray says:

      Not what the Rabbi says Tyler.

      1. tylerringstad says:

        Biblical scholars make these claims. I’m not sure where the Rabbi thing is coming in. You seem to be implying that the “Rabbi” is a uniform person/identity across all traditions, beliefs, etc. I’m not sure that is a solid foundation to rest upon for a claim. What do you think? Whom specifically do you have in mind, or are you thinking of the profession of Rabbi?

        (I think I misplace the comment initially, so this one is a repost.)

        1. Daniel Gray says:

          You are mentioning the Torah and yet you dont know that a Rabbi is the same thing as a priest or pastor?

          1. tylerringstad says:

            I do know what a Rabbi is. I was wondering if you meant to claim that all Rabbis are the same with your comment “Not what the Rabbis says.”

            Thanks!

  36. tylerringstad says:

    Biblical scholars make these claims. I’m not sure where the Rabbi thing is coming in. You seem to be implying that the “Rabbi” is a uniform person/identity across all traditions, beliefs, etc. I’m not sure that is a solid foundation to rest upon for a claim. What do you think? Whom specifically do you have in mind, or are you thinking of the profession of Rabbi?

  37. Rev. J Camp says:

    As Christians, we’re no longer under the law. We’re under Grace. Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. No other person ever could or ever will. It’s purpose is to bring man to an end of his self efforts to obtain righteousness from God. The Mosaic law was extended to the Jews. Period. Nobody else. Grace is extended to us ALL. Why are so many non Jewish people trying to keep laws that were never even extended to them? Answer: traditional, incorrect teaching in the church. We must not mix Law and Grace. There is no mixture.

  38. Bill says:

    It is very apparent that our justice system needs some work. All too often prisoners are set free early due to overcrowding, only to go out and commit a horrible crime again. With the Judicial system using the basis of “beyond a reasonable doubt”, those convicted of 1st degree, premeditated murder, even if found to be insane, should have a swift meeting arranged with God. Those “innocent” victims who were executed wrongfully were on death row for many years. It is tragic and we should pray for them and their families. With today forensics, these types of mistakes would be greatly reduced or eliminated completely. Once again, we must remove all doubt! We have become a society that thinks too much of the criminal, and not near enough about the victims or their loved ones.

  39. Robert collins says:

    I have spent a great deal of my adult life studying and trying to translate the bible. I don’t like it when people cherry pick phrases and apply western 21st century meanings. I have found one passage that, for me, works best. At the last supper/Passover meal or whatever you choose to call it – jesus told his disciples he was leaving them with a new commandment. Jesus said: “love one another as I have loved you.” Beautiful words but almost impossible to live but I keep trying.

  40. Shaun Clark says:

    we should have capital punishment without a doubt for several reasons 1/ deterent. 2/ preventoin of reoffending. 3 waist of money – ie – sex slavers: money waisted on this filth could be used to rescue more victims – and for those who want to wing – As the very wise paul said “if you suffer just punishment you have no right to complain” – or in another way – if you don’t want to suffer the just consequences of choosing to do evil – don’t choose to do evil in the first place.

  41. Lena C. Williams says:

    I am a conservative christian and I believe in and SUPPORT the death penalty. There are people who say imprisonment can lead to reform. Violent “career” criminals can NOT and will not be reformed. Rapists and pedophiles can not be rehabilitated either. MANY MANY interviews & case studies prove this to be fact. I am not talking about people who “SNAP” once or who took an innocent life unintentionally. I am talking about those who have little to no regard for laws or life. Serial murders and violent career criminals, rapists, and pedophiles can NOT be reformed or rehabilitated. Why should they get to eat 3 meals a day, watch cable t.v, workout in fully stocked gyms…? Are their lives more meaningful than that of their victims? I think not. Send them to their Maker and let them be judged accordingly.

  42. Rev. J Camp says:

    Couldn’t they be put in work camps? Growing and supporting their own food needs… And even growing enough to support the ministries that need more to help feed the hungry… Our prisons are everywhere now…. And they are packed full of inmates. The workers are there… It’s time for them to repay their debts to society and make a huge impact for the needy in this world. Any thoughts on this?

  43. Terry Hayes says:

    Lena, I agree criminals are rarely reformed. If a person does a serious crime and they are put to death that person never has to mentally deal with their action. The victim or their family will always have to deal with the emotions resulting from the crime. When I suggest removing them from society I mean that they receive the minimum items for living. They would receive a cell, a pad and blanket for sleeping, and a toilet. Things like clothing, food, and hygiene would be controlled but the keeper of the keys. The criminal would receive no socialization just as if they were dead.They would never see another living thing again. Imagine what you would think if you were put in a 12×6 cell with all social contact and control of your life removed. There is cost involved in either death or life in solitude but they would meet there Maker and be judged in time. While the criminal lives all that is left of them is there own thoughts. No parole no pardon and no freedom. I can think of nothing worse that a living death.

  44. Brother John says:

    A couple of comments on this article…..

    Innocent people have been, and will be executed. Whoops, Sorry About That or resurrection can’t restore their lives.
    http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/executed-possibly-innocent

    http://listverse.com/2010/01/12/10-convicts-presumed-innocent-after-execution/

    Most first world countries have banned the death penalty.
    The term First World originally refers to the capitalist, industrialized countries, within the Western European and United States’ sphere of influence, (e.g. member states of the NATO). The term also includes other industrialized countries such as Japan and some of the former British colonies, particularly Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa.

    Whoever uses the term today in a variety of meanings, mostly tries to describe the top end of the evolution of countries. Nations with the most advanced economy, highest standard of living, the most advanced technology, the greates influence in the world.

    How many first world countries still have the death penalty?
    http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0777460.html

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