Religion roundtable: Is the death penalty wrong?
Apr 13, 2013 | 2912 views |  0 comments | 13 13 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Jesus was an innocent victim of the death penalty

To use as few words as possible, the simple answer to this question is “yes.”

As a person of faith, particularly a person who follows Jesus Christ (a victim of the death penalty, mind you), I am of the conviction that every person is a bearer of the image of God. This is an ideology expressed by those who stand against abortion in the “pro-life” movement. I’m afraid, however, that most of their “pro-life” sentiments end at the maternity ward. It is my belief that being “pro-life” means I am against unnatural death — whether it be abortion, war, murder or even the death penalty. The death penalty stands in stark opposition to being “pro-life,” because it is a practice that unnaturally ends the life of another human being.

Furthermore, as a Christian I am convinced that the attitudes and reasoning behind the death penalty stand in contradiction to the teachings of Jesus. We still live with the motto “an eye for an eye,” but Jesus says to us “if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.”

In his book “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Punishment,” T. Richard Snyder highlights how we have created a culture of vengeance where “We’d rather turn the knife than turn the other cheek.” May we come to value all human life and seek reconciliation rather than revenge.

Chris Thomas, First Baptist Church of Williams

We should try to be 100 percent certain of guilt

The death penalty in a society is like a surgical procedure in the body. Yes, some cuts are made and some blood is shed, but it saves lives, which is the most precious thing in this world. The question is: What if the diagnosis was wrong? Then all the blood shed and cuts made are unjustified. Yes, that is true. But does that mean we stop doing surgeries and let people die?

No, we need to improve our diagnostic system. We need to make our judicial system perfect and leave no stone unturned to make sure the verdict is 100 percent justified.

All religions are pro-life and teach peace and protection of life, yet all the religious scriptures are for the death penalty, including the Bible and the Quran. This is because the death penalty of a murderer offers life protection for the whole society.

Quran emphasizes making a careful decision about terminating a life. “Do not take life which God has made sacred except for just cause. And if anyone is slain wrongfully we have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life: for he is helped (by the Law)” (Quran 71:33). Life is sacred and precious as the Quran elaborates in chapter 5 “If anyone kills a person — unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land — it would be as if he killed the whole humanity. And if anyone saves a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity (Quran 5:32). In Islamic law, if an intentional murder takes place the family of the victim has three choices: They can insist on the death penalty, they can demand blood money or they can choose to forgive.

Forgiveness has been encouraged in the Holy Quran. In the case of the death penalty, very strict rules for witnesses have been set. If any doubt is found in the case, the death penalty is void.

Muhammad Haq, Anniston Islamic Center
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