Inside Out 76: Death Penalty

05.04.11 | Martha Manikas-Foster

A majority of Americans say they support capital punishment, according to a 2010 Gallup poll. Yet it’s a fact that juries continue to be wary of sentencing people to die. Perhaps it is a reflection of our wariness of the death penalty that in March 2011, Illinois became the 16th state to ban capital punishment.  In signing the abolition bill, Illinois governor Pat Quinn stated that it is the “right and just thing” to punish those who commit heinous crimes with life in prison without parole instead of the death penalty.

How does God want us to deal with those who commit the worst of crimes? How does the Bible address the issue, and is the American church looking for answers in its pages? I recently introduced the subject of the death penalty to a gathering of high school and college students, and what I heard ranged from “Only God should take a life,” to “Some crimes are so heinous that the criminal deserves death.” I’m guessing that you’ve heard the same range of comments in your own conversations.

What do you believe? On what do you base your belief?

To inform our discussion, I was able to speak with Dr. James W. Skillen. Jim directed the Center for Public Justice from 1981 through 2009 and is the author of numerous books on political thought, statecraft and public policy. For more information on Jim, log on to cpjustice.org.

Listen in, and --- if you like --- leave a comment.

Comments

Your Comments(please keep them on topic and polite)

on 05.04.11 Will commented

Chekhov's short story, The Bet, makes an interesting inquiry into which is worst: to be put to death or to spend the rest of your life without hope. It's an interesting read: http://www.readbookonline.net/readOnLine/1011/

My personal opinion is that there must be a massive amount of evidence to put someone to death. Far to many people are killed unjustly in the name of justice.

on 05.05.11 Ray Timmermans commented

Martha,

A very thoughtful and interesting discussion. Particularly liked the "seamless garment"/"consistent life ethic" portion.

Appreciated as well the thoughtful distinction concerning "standards" about doing justice--not just pragmatic/economic interests, but genuine moral and biblical interests. Brings out the need for regulation in the interim.

Would have appreciated a mention of the speaker's writings on the mmatter.

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