Poll: Atheists Overwhelmingly Oppose the Death Penalty; Most Christians Favor It June 16, 2021

Poll: Atheists Overwhelmingly Oppose the Death Penalty; Most Christians Favor It

While conservatives claim to have “pro-life” values, this confirms what we knew: they don’t.

The Pew Research Center recently released a poll concerning views on the death penalty. Yesterday, they published the results broken down by religious groups.

When asked if they supported the death penalty for “people convicted of murder,” the faith-based breakdown was striking:

Roughly two-thirds of atheists (65%) and six-in-ten agnostics (57%) either “strongly” or “somewhat” oppose the death penalty for people convicted of murder.

… Meanwhile, 60% of U.S. adults overall favor the death penalty, including 75% of White evangelical Protestants and 73% of White non-evangelical Protestants, according to the survey, which was conducted in early April.

Pew also asked respondents whether the death penalty was moral, whether it deterred people from committing serious crimes, and whether it included the risk of executing innocent people.

There were some notable differences in those responses, too:

For example, white evangelicals (51%) were nearly twice as likely as Black Protestants (27%) to believe that the death penalty deters people from committing serious crimes. Given the systemic racial bias in the application of the death penalty, that makes sense.

Also interesting was the difference between white evangelicals and atheists (whose results were not broken out by race) regarding whether the death penalty is morally wrong. Over three quarters of white evangelicals (77%) believe it’s moral; only half of atheists (48%) feel the same way.

For a group of people who claim to be “pro-life” and in favor of forgiveness, there’s clearly a desire to execute convicted murderers despite all the flaws in our legal system. For them, the illusion that the death penalty will keep people safe seems to take precedence over the lives of potentially innocent — or mentally disabled — people who shouldn’t be on Death Row at all.

The irony is that there’s a Christian case that could easily be made against the death penalty. Pope Francis famously made that case in 2018 when he said executions were “inadmissible” in all cases. Yet for all the political muscle they use to protect fetuses at all costs, they seem to care relatively little about life that’s taken away despite all the complications that come with it.

(Featured image via Shutterstock)


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