Thursday, November 6, 2008

Official church views on capital punishment

The Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church states, "Today, in fact, as a consequence of the possibilities which the state has for effectively preventing crime, by rendering one who has committed an offense incapable of doing harm - without definitely taking away from him the possibility of redeeming himself - the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity are very rare, if not practically nonexistent."

The Anglican and Episcopalian churches, at the Lambeth Conference, states, "This Conference: ... 3. Urges the Church to speak out against: ... (b) all governments who practice capital punishment, and encourages them to find alternative ways of sentencing offenders so that the divine dignity of every human being is respected and yet justice is pursued."

The Methodist churches (George W. Bush is a Methodist) condemns capital punishment saying, amongst other things, that the death penalty falls unequally upon the poor, uneducated, ethnic and religious minorities, and the mentally ill. The General Conference of the United Methodist Church calls their bishops to oppose capital punishment, and for governments to cease carrying out the death sentence.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America officially opposed capital punishment in 1991 saying the primary motivation for the death penalty is revenge, and true healing can only take place through repentance and forgiveness. Other Lutherans and Calvinists support the death penalty.

The Southern Baptist Convention officially sanctioned capital punishment in 2000.

Mennonites, Anabaptists and the Friends an Brethren churches have opposed capital punishment from their inception.

In conclusion: It appears mainline Protestantism is split on the issue, but most churches oppose capital punishment. It is interesting to me that so many Christians believe contrary to what their own church teaches on many issues, this is only one of them.

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