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Faith positions regarding the Death Penalty
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Thread: Faith positions regarding the Death Penalty

  1. #1
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Faith positions regarding the Death Penalty

    I thought it would be informative for members to have a sort of shopping list of faiths and their stance regarding capital punishment. The research I have done comes from the Pew Research Foundation which is a non-partisan research group concerned with studying social issues in the pluralistic United States of America. I wanted to be sure that all are clear on my primary source; Pew Research Institute itself does not take a stand for or against as does DPIC. That said, where applicable, I will add other primary source material from particular faiths when I feel that clarification might be needed or Pew has not been clear on the issue. I hope that this research will prove valuable. One last point: it is virtually impossible to list every sect of any particular faith. Protestantism alone has over 30,000 distinct denominations and there are many divergencies along many social issues. So, in the interest of keeping this manageable, I will constrain this post to the more visible, well known belief systems commonly found in America. Please note that this post is meant for informational purposes only and does not presume to make a statement about faiths and their respective postions on capital punishment.

    I. Christianity:

    A. Roman Catholicism: The Cathechism of the Roman Catholic Church sanctions the use of the death penalty as a last resort. However, the late Pope John Paul II has called for its abolition in countries where penal technology has evolved such that the safety of a country's citizens can be guaranteed by life imprisonment without parole. (Para. 56 of Evangelium Vitae).

    B. Eastern Orthodox Christianity (specifically The Orthodox Church in America): The Orthodox Church in America categorically opposes capital punishment in all cases. The Orthodox cite John 8:3-11 in which Christ prevented the execution of a woman. The Orthodox, in a resolution issued in August 1989 (http://www.orthodoxforum.com/topic.a...14&whichpage=2) argues that repentance is impossible after the death penalty is applied. The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese also opposes the death penalty in all cases.

    C. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.: Since 1982,The American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. has opposed capital punishment. (note that under the general heading of Baptist, there are over 70 subdenominations so Southern Baptists as you will read favor the death penalty).

    D. The Episcopal Church: The Episcopal Church has opposed capital punishment since 1958. http://www.episcopalarchives.org/cgi...tion=1991-D056

    E. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: While The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America has added capital punishment as part of its agenda on social issues to be studied, they have not adopted an official position as of this writing. On the church's official site you can read its discourse thus far. http://www.elca.org/What-We-Believe/...h-Penalty.aspx

    F. Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod: Favor the the use of capital punishment as being in accordance with Scripture.

    G. National Association of Evangelicals: Favors the use of capital punishment.

    H. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A): Opposes capital punishment; first statement against it in 1959 and reaffirmed in 1977 and 1978

    I. Southern Baptist Convention: Favors the use of capital punishment. http://www.sbc.net/resolutions/amResolution.asp?ID=299

    J. United Methodist Church: Opposes capital punishment. http://archives.umc.org/interior.asp?ptid=4&mid=1071


    II. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints: The LDS church is neutral on capital punishment, citing that it is a matter for civil and state law. http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/offici...tal-punishment

    III. Jehovah's Witnesses: No position: they do not concern themselves with matters of civil authority. Note that this contrasts with the stance of Mormonism. It seems a subtle distinction, but it's important to note that neutrality is a position whereas no position means just that.

    IV. Buddhism: There is no common or "official" position among Buddhists. http://www.buddhanet.net/e-learning/...data/fdd20.htm and http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religi...nishment.shtml

    V. Hinduism: There is no official position on capital punishment and Hindu scholars and theologians fall on both sides of the issue. It is interesting to note that India is a retentionist country and is largely Hindu. The debate on capital punishment however has heated up but according to various studies I have found, polls show that a majority of the people of India favor capital punishment.

    VI. Islam: Shari'a law is obviously not enforced in the United States therefore there is no official position on capital punishment. In Islamic countries the use of capital punishment varies. Iran is second only to China in executions. Turkey on the other hand abolished capital punishment in 2004. However, there has been a recent push to reinstate it for specific crimes such as treason and hijacking.

    VII. Judaism: Like Christianity, there is a spectrum of sects with Judaism. Reformed Jews have called for abolition while Orthodox Jews have called for a moratorium to study it. http://rac.org/Articles/index.cfm?id...89&pge_id=2396 http://www.ouradio.org/images/uploads/Summary.pdf

    VIII: Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations: This body has called for a nationwide moratorium dating back from 1961. As of the year 2000, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations has called for complete abolition. http://www.uua.org/statements/statements/14011.shtml

  2. #2
    Senior Member Frequent Poster elsie's Avatar
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    Very interesting that so many oppose or have no opinion. Bet the people do, as the vote in CA showed.

  3. #3
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    I just looked at my thread and the forum lists it as a sticky. I have no idea why, so Heidi, you may want to review the post and address the issue. Perhaps it is a glitch in the way your forum treats new threads?

    Best,
    Vlad

  4. #4
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by elsie View Post
    Very interesting that so many oppose or have no opinion. Bet the people do, as the vote in CA showed.
    That's an interesting observation elsie. I know from my own faith there is a lot of disagreement with this and other issues versus the church's official position.

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    Senior Member Frequent Poster elsie's Avatar
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    MMMMMMMMM, kind of wonder at what age I knew about the DP and formed my own opinion. Went to church on regular basis, but do not remember any views on this. I guess with my faith and in depth Bible studies, maybe it just was there. Certainly was there at 13 when my Mothers cousin's husband was killed during a robbery.

  6. #6
    Administrator Heidi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VladVoivode View Post
    I just looked at my thread and the forum lists it as a sticky. I have no idea why, so Heidi, you may want to review the post and address the issue. Perhaps it is a glitch in the way your forum treats new threads?

    Best,
    Vlad
    Sticky means it is listed at the top of the Capital Punishment Discussion Forum so I can find it easily.
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    I am a convert so in my childhood like yours, there never seemed to be a discussion of a position on the DP [When I converted to the faith I am in now, the position of the church was made crystal clear]. Part of that I believe stems from the fact that Pennsylvania rarely carried out executions. The last one before DP was abolished nationally was Elmo Smith in 1962. When it was reinstated nationally Pennsylvania governor Milton Schapp declared that he would not sign any death warrants. The last three executions since Schapp have all been voluntary. While Rendell signed a number of death warrants, all of them expired. As you know, last week a stay was granted in a PA execution. The Commonwealth is pretty divided on the issue and time will tell whether Pennsylvania continues on its long course of not performing executions.

    Best,
    Vlad

  8. #8
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
    Sticky means it is listed at the top of the Capital Punishment Discussion Forum so I can find it easily.
    Gotcha! I just didn't want to anger anyone or have anypone think I had special powers.

  9. #9
    Member Member VladVoivode's Avatar
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    I wanted to add a couple more:

    The Society of Friends (more commonly known as Quakers): The Society of Friends was founded by former Roman Catholic Priest George Fox in England. The Society of Friends is a Christian sect that is both pacifist and anti-DP.

    The Mennonites: Also another sect founded by former Roman Catholic priests, The Mennonites are abolistionist. [N.B. The Amish are off shoots of The Mennonites. They are pacificists but perhaps more interesting, the Amish do not involve themselves with issues outside of their communities.

    I should add also within the larger context of this thread that while official positions do exist in the sects I have mentioned, it does not necessarily follow that individual adherents to these sects agree with said position except in particular cases like The Quakers and The Mennonites.

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    Administrator Moh's Avatar
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    What is the death-penalty stance of the Shintoists, Zoroastrians, Bahá'ís, Caodaists, Wiccans and Wiggers?

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