The Death Penalty is Being Propped Up By “Pro-Life” Christians, Says Activist August 7, 2018

The Death Penalty is Being Propped Up By “Pro-Life” Christians, Says Activist

Shane Claiborne, a progressive Christian activist, has an excellent article about how the death penalty is being propped up by conservative Christians. (It’s based on his book about the same topic.)

The very people who declare themselves to be “pro-life,” he writes, are also the people longing for the ability to execute people.

This is true, even as Pope Francis changes the official rules of the Catholic Church to take capital punishment off the table in all cases. But his declaration, and all the research in the world showing the death penalty is not a deterrent to crime, won’t change the minds of the people who are supposed to be turning the other cheek.

Eighty-five percent of executions in the past 40 years have taken place in the Bible Belt. This means the Bible Belt is the death belt in America.

Wherever Christians are most concentrated in America is where the most executions have taken place.

You would think that when Catholic governors are in office, or Catholics dominate the Supreme Court, they have plenty of reason to call for a moratorium or ban on the practice. They could win brownie points with the faithful for saying they’re taking the pope’s declaration seriously, while also getting praise from liberals who understand why the death penalty just doesn’t work (and disproportionately affects people of color). But they haven’t done it yet. Tennessee, Nebraska, and Texas all permit executions, and all are led by Jesus-followers.

Claiborne urges those conservative Christians to do the right thing before, once again, they’re playing catch-up on another moral issue.

It does not take courage to say that slavery is wrong a generation after we have ended it. It takes courage to say that slavery is wrong when it is still legal and socially acceptable. So it is with the death penalty. I believe we will look back at the death penalty a generation from now just like we look back at slavery: with horror and shame, wondering how we ever thought it was OK and how we used the Bible to justify it.

We all know that we can’t rely on conservative Christians to do the right thing. They still oppose LGBTQ rights. They still think women should be forced to give birth. They still treat science as a dirty word. They still defend Donald Trump no matter what he does. And they will still demand executions even when the arguments against them are overwhelming.

A Pew Research Center survey from June found that 73% of white evangelicals favored the death penalty for people convicted of murder, more than any other religious demographic. (Only 48% of the religiously unaffiliated felt the same way.)

Just add this to the long list of things Jesus was against but many Christians still love.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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