Capital punishment is in the news again, which isn't a bad thing. It would seem to be an alarming cultural phenomena to have no reservations at all about the government putting people to death, no matter how you feel about the issue. Everyone should agree that this practice must be scrutinized at all times in order to avoid abuse. The power of the state to kill citizens is immense and shouldn't be taken lightly.
This time it is the governor of California, Gavin Newsom, who has by executive order shut down death row in his state. The fact that he is a flaming socialist and far-left collectivist makes it easy for someone like me and for people like most of you to immediately shake our heads in condemnation. We need to avoid knee jerk, emotional reactions like that. All things must be judged with righteous judgement and just because this guy is off the wall on many key issues does not mean we should immediately dismiss everything he says or does. Each issue must be judged one at a time, no matter if the proponent has a R, D or I after their name or not. The way in which he has explained his reasoning has caught my attention. Notice what he is saying and perhaps not saying in some of these statements:
"It has provided no public safety benefit or value as a deterrent. It has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars. But most of all, the death penalty is absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of a human error."
"We are considering executing more people than any other state in modern history — to line up human beings, every day, for executions for two-plus years. Premeditated, state-sponsored executions...I cannot sign off on executing hundreds and hundreds of human beings, knowing among them are people who are innocent."
I cannot help but find it interesting that he does not argue that the death penalty is immoral. Previous generations of anti-death penalty activists strongly argued the practice was immoral, barbaric, primitive, cruel and unusual for modern society to engage in. That's not what he is saying, not here at least. Perhaps that is how he feels and maybe he has said such things in the past, I admittedly have not taken the time to dig into everything he has ever said publicly on the subject. But that's not the point he is making now. He's saying that he is convinced there are innocent people on death row right now and because he can't be sure who is and is not the "unlucky" one's siting there wrongly, he is going to see to it that none of them are killed. Better that everyone be spared than even one be wrongly killed. I certainly agree with that sentiment and so should you if you call yourself a pro-life Christian. I hope every Christian would agree to halt death row executions if they were convinced innocent people were on it.
The question of course is if it is reasonable to believe something awful like that is likely? Sure, anything is hypothetically possible and no matter how strong and just a system there is simply no way to be absolutely positive a terrible mistake couldn't be theoretically made. If absolute certainty was needed for decision making very few decisions could ever be made. Here's the point..thinking something is theoretically possible is one thing, "knowing" something is certain is another. Governor Newsom says he "knows" there are people on death row who are innocent. That's a big deal, that's a very big deal and shouldn't be glossed over by Biblical, pro-life Christians.
We are going to take some time to unpack this heavy issue over several installments. There is just no way one post can do something like this justice. Here's are the points we will be detailing in future posts:
- Capital Punishment is not only justified in the Bible, it is commanded.
- There is compelling evidence which shows the United States has a broken criminal justice system and is prone to target racial minorities disproportionally for capital punishment as a result.
- There is compelling evidence which shows the United States has a broken criminal justice system and is prone to execute innocent people as a result.
- A temporary moratorium on Capital Punishment in the United States is needed in order to address these inequities and make reforms needed to assure citizens that we have a JUSTICE system with appropriate safeguards to prevent wrongful executions going forward.
Executing innocent prisoners is no less heinous than aborting unborn babies. Every pro-lifer in this country ought to be appalled to find out such a thing was likely in the United States.
Showing that our system is so broken that this possibility is not just a hypothetical one, but is a likely one, must force us to make bold moves and take drastic actions. Even if that means getting along with a Democrat on something.
We will start unpacking all of this next time…