The National Association of Evangelicals, which has long supported the death penalty (because that whole “pro-life” thing only goes so far), has finally changed its stance on the issue. The new position boils down to “Eh… Both sides make good points… Who are we to judge?!”
Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs about capital punishment, often citing strong biblical and theological reasons either for the just character of the death penalty in extreme cases or for the sacredness of all life, including the lives of those who perpetrate serious crimes and yet have the potential for repentance and reformation. We affirm the conscientious commitment of both streams of Christian ethical thought.
It’s almost like the Bible can be interpreted to support contradictory ideas… amazing.
At least it’s a step in the right direction. Though I wish the NAE had the courage to denounce the barbarism of the death penalty. Instead, they’d prefer to play it safe. It’s also telling that this is not how they respond when it comes to other contentious issues.
While the NAE hasn’t said much about homosexuality in a while, at last check, they still oppose civil rights for LGBT people and they haven’t issued any sort of resolution suggesting that there are good evangelicals on both sides of that issue.
Still, commentator Jonathan Merritt welcomes the NAE’s wavering on the death penalty because anything is better than the group’s previous stance:
The death penalty has survived in America, in part, because of evangelicals’ strong support. Evangelicals have often followed, rather than led, on issues of justice and equality in America. The death penalty is irreparably marred by improper sentencing, the possibility of wrongful conviction, racial bias, socio-economic discrimination, and financial waste. Any movement by the NAE away from support of the death penalty is worthy of praise.
Very mild praise, maybe. But if this is the best we can hope for from the NAE, there’s no reason anyone should look to the group to provide guidance on difficult issues. Instead of leading, they’re choosing to punt.
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