5. The application of the death penalty in America is unjustly used and applied.
There are a variety of reasons why the death penalty in America is unjustly applied, and chief among them is race. In fact, Texas is preparing for the likely execution of a man named Duane Buck, who was literally sentenced to death for being black. At his sentencing hearing, prosecutors argued that he would be a further threat to society because he was black. Also, we know that poverty is a chief factor in ultimately receiving the death sentence since quality of defense plays a significant role in the outcome of a trial. This means that the death penalty is something that specifically targets poor people and minorities– the people groups scripture calls us to defend and speak up for. Finally, with new technologies such as DNA testing we’ve found that our system of justice wasn’t as reliable as we thought: since 1973 there have been 122 death row inmates who have been freed after wrongful conviction.
I am reminded of Jesus’ words above– had we understood what it means to love mercy and not sacrifice, we wouldn’t have condemned the innocent.
As people of Jesus, we simply can’t embrace a practice and system that is literally killing innocent people and disproportionately affecting the weak and voiceless.
Yes, the issue of capital punishment is a complex one, and there are many other arguments to be had. While this can be a complex debate if speaking only from our identities as American citizens, this issue should not be complex for Jesus followers. Jesus overturned the old laws that permitted the use of retributive (and all other forms) of violence. It simply is not possible to simultaneously follow the one who forbade violence while participating, condoning, or supporting it in any form.
Now is the time for us to band together on this issue. Public support is waning. Drug companies are refusing to participate. States are abolishing the practice. And most importantly, Evangelical Christians are beginning to wake up on the issue of violence, and are being primed to become followers of the nonviolent Christ. But yet, as we speak, some states are moving in the opposite direction- trying to revive firing squads, gas chambers, and the electric chair. Now is the time to teach people that following Jesus means a life of nonviolence.
And, if nothing else, remember that Jesus was the victim of an unjust trial and was unjustly executed as a result. For his followers to support this same system would be worthy of a mention by Alanis Morissette (’cause wouldn’t that be ironic?)
Please join me in speaking out against the use of capital punishment and join me in inviting people to follow the nonviolent Jesus!_______________________ In the meantime, here is a quick video on capital punishment in the Bible. It’s only 2 and a half minutes, and is worth the watch.