Is the Death Penalty Legalized Murder? : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Is the Death Penalty Legalized Murder?

Today, the United States killed a man.

You can call it justice, you can call it retribution.  You can call it what you want, but the United States government, through the judicial system killed a man.  Not a good man.  He was the biggest mass murder of all times in the United States.  Not a remorseful man, his only regrets at the deaths were that they were collateral  damage.  Not an innocent man, he told the world he did the deed.   But a man that God created. 

Because of the magnitude of his crime, the magnification of the grief he caused, very few people decried the death penalty being imposed on Timothy McVeigh.  There have been massive protests for many other people in the past poised for the death penalty but for McVeigh, there almost was a mass feeling of justification.

But can we justify the taking of a person's life, regardless of how horrific the crime they may have committed.  The "eye for an eye" was under the Old Testament law.  I have struggled to find any New Testament jurisdiction for taking a persons life.  To the contrary, it seems in my limited study, that the converse is true.  That under Jesus' edict of love, we can not in clear conscience either take or condone the taking of any human life irregardless of the circumstances.

So here we stand as a nation, pretty smug that we have exercised one of the human cancers that has brought so much pain and torment on so many.   A man that was an equal opportunity killer, taking people of all colors, positions and ages in his bloody ramage.

But in our silent celebrations.  In our unmouthed protests are we any better than he who was dispatched.  Is silence consent.  If it were a member of your family who was snatched away from you in the Oklahoma bombing would you have wanted to see McVeigh draw his final breath.

This is not raised because I have the answer, it is raised because I know in my flesh, if it were my family, I might not make the right call and I pray that that part of me be strengthened.  But also because I just did not feel the righteous indignation I probably should have felt deep with in, when the plunger was depressed and man once again played God and took McVeigh's life.

How do you feel about the death penalty, and in particular this case.


-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001


Easy answer. No, it was not murder.

In Christ, Nathan Paujo

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001

Rev. Fisher,

I could not agree with you more. I too am not sure what my reaction would be to having one I dearly loved being so brutally and innocently killed. My heart indeed goes out for those persons who must daily live with of memory this horrific and senseless deed. However the Church of Christ, by whatever name it is known, e.g. Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, or Word, must begin to practice which we preach. In all our waving of flags and chanting of "One Nation Under God", we need to cry out and take a stand.

As I have said before we also need to once again read and apply the teaching of Saint Paul to the Church.

I quote from Roman, Chapter 12:

"Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, AVENGE NOT yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is MINE; I will repay, saith the LORD. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil WITH GOOD."

I also believe, "Thou Shalt Not Kill applies equally to me collectively as a state, as well as it does to me as one individual. Therefore, Murder, is Murder, is Murder!

Christ died for the sinner. He alone, can be our Judge. For it is He who has said in Luke 6:37, "Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven". And in John 8:7, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001

Rev. Fisher today is a day that I choose to focus on the 168 people who lost their lives in the federal building in Okalahoma City. They did not have the opportunity to have a discussion about death. They were violently murdered. All too often in this country we forget the victim and family members. We do not acknowledge the lost that we as God's children feel when we attend funeral after funeral. Today I focus on the mothers of the children who died in the day care center in the federal building. Today I focus on those who survived but are maimed and still paying off hospital bills. I remember April 19, 1995 for it was my birthday. I remember the terror, I remember the 40 days it took to recover all the bodies, I remember those trapped for days, I remember police and rescue workers who lives were traumized. I also remember putting together a "Benefit" in Bozeman, Montana to raise money for funerals of those who were killed. I remember crying and asking God "Why!" I also remember the FBI coming to my state to round up Militia leaders, I remember my Human Rights organization speaking out against the violence of those groups and then receiving death threats. Rev. Fisher, I do not know the fate of Timothy MCVeigh, if he asked God for forgiveness then he will receive it. This is an emotional day for many family members of those killed and injured, I pray we will lift them up in prayer. And be vigilant as we prepare for those who want to continue McVeighs reign of terror. Those who will make him a martyr. White Supremacist groups are growing in this country as the no. of hispanics and other immigrant groups grow. It is a time for prayer and a time to mourn those who lost their lives so horrendously on April 19, 1995. I think we do them an injustice if we do not honor their memories. The discussion of the Death Penalty can wait a day. Let this be a day to pause and fall on our knees and Proclaim God our deliverer.

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001

I agree there is no easy answer. All killings is not murder. When one has to kill in defense of another, that is not murder nor a crime. When the state deems it necessary to enact and impose the death penalty, that is not murder. However that state must answer to God as to whether that law is necessary. Where many of us in the religious community go wrong is confusing individual restriction with restrictings imposed upon the state. For example, most of St. Paul's teaching dealth with individual relationships rather than the relationship between the individual and the state or state to state relationships. Some more thoughts: (1) I believe that in God's eyes it does not matter if a person kills one or 100 or 1000, the penalty is the same. We consider amass murderer as being guilty of a greater crime. (2) The crime is not against the individual victim or his/her family but against the state. (3) It is wrong for victims to seek or exult in the death of the criminal, it is the job of the state in its protection of individuals.


Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, June 11, 2001

Rev. Paris,

I think you have made some excellent points and your points are well taken. There are, in fact, no big sins or little sins. All sin is the same before God, the only righteous Judge. However, I have yet to reconcile how I, as a member of the state and a believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ can reconcile the two. Would I not much better be served by one who spends his/her entire life in prison reflecting upon and making reparation for a crime against the state, as oppose to the penalty of death which has yet to be proven as an effective deterrent to crime? Do I not also commit the same deed as the offender when I render a judgment which rightfully belongs to God? These are hard questions and perhaps, only God knows the answer.

-- Anonymous, June 12, 2001

Dear Rev. John,

I must admit that when it comes to the commandment " Thou shall not kill" that I am unreconciled. In my heart, I believe everything that you and Mr. Matthews said was right. However, in my head, I believe that to abandon the death penalty would send the wrong message to society. It would encourage the criminal element to murder. It would also say that we as a society devalue lives that were lost through murder. On the other hand, the death penalty is unfairly applied in this country. On "The News Hour with Jim Lehrer", yesterday, one of the panelists stated that race, geographic region, and socioeconomic class were closely related to who received the death penalty. If there is a bias, is it just to apply the death penalty? The late Thurgood Marshall was opposed to the death penalty probably because he knew that iindividuals in these groups would receive inadequate counsel during their trials. In the McVeigh case, the media gave too much attention to him and too little attention to the victims and their families. Once again, this was irresponsible journalism.


-- Anonymous, June 12, 2001

While I personally do not support the death penalty, I support the right of the state to establish laws that may include the death penalty. I hate the death penalty, not for what it does to the criminal but for what it does to us, the law-abiding citizens of this nation. When we have to put a human being to death it is an admission of failure, our system of justice has failed. It also makes all of us less human. I noticed that some of those screaming for McVeigh's death are now ready to try to find others to also kill. In, Texas we do not have a "Life without Parole" sentence and that is why the death penalty remains. Blessings, Pastor Paris

-- Anonymous, June 12, 2001

What Do We Expect?

Timothy McViegh convicted murderer, of 168 people died by the hands of the American government. Supposedly European countries are outraged at the barbaric act. I don't understand the reasons for the outcry. Barbarism is nothing new to either the United States government or the European nations. They disguise their brutal behavior as "war" for democracy and liberation or national defense. However, the end results are the sually death, occupation and rule of a foreign land and its people.

How many Afrikans have suffered at the hands of the hands of these governments and countries? The number is astronomical. For example, the United States has a distinct history of killing Afrikans. The transatlantic slave trade, segregation, Jim Crow laws, and civil rights movement, currently neo-slavery (prisons), neo-colonialism (the continued occupation of Afrika under the guise of democracy or economic (mis) development) have taken the lives of millions. Yet, in the normal disregard of Afrikan life, the United States is in denial about the severity of its actions. Are the Europeans shedding tears for the million of Afrikans inflected with the biological warfare germ called AIDS?

All of a sudden, a white male is killed for his diabolical deeds and the European nations cry "foul." Where is the outcry for the political and historical deaths of Afrikan culture? Selective morals and deaths are reflective of the so-called advanced cultures that embrace ignorance, which is mis-named progressive/intelligence. In an age of advanced technology and mental intelligence, the American culture still practices behavior reflective of the Neanderthal days. A period when a human species life fought for every facet of existence. A period when the human taking of life was considered a badge of honor and courage.

I do not expect spiritual behavior from a culture that continuously inflects its limited de-spiritualized culture upon non-European peoples of the world. I do not expect Americans to behave any differently than it has since the pirates; religious rejects and social misfits colonized Amexem (the name of North America before European influence). The problem in a nutshell is most people expect or hope that people will change to suit their value system. Negative energy has a tremendous pull upon the human psyche. Immediate sense gratification (an eye for an eye) places humankind in the place of divine spirit. This is a very dangerous position for unconscious individuals.

Peace, Brenda

-- Anonymous, June 12, 2001

Last time I cared what Western Europe thought of us was when Margaret Thatcher and John Major ran the UK and Helmut Kohl ran Germany. I respected there opinions. Since the end of the Gulf War tho those nations have shifted left as the new generation has taken power. We did the same by putting in Clinton and almost made the same mistake with Gore.

France has been what is called a hostile ally since De Gaul and maybe even before. Spain and Italy swing between hostility and tolerance of our country depending on what government is in power. Italy especially changes govts about as often as most people change socks which makes it hard to take them seriously. The Benelux nations are small and have little impact on us, and Greece has almost acted as an enemy.

Count me as an unapologetic unilateralist when it comes to relations with our increasingly marginal allies. Christians have very little influence in there countries and it shows. If they do not like our death penalty too bad. We are finding other allies in the nations of Taiwan, the Phillipines, South Korea (left wing student demonstrators aside, the country is at least 25% evangelical but you will not hear that on CNN), Australia, Eastern Europe, and the other words, the nations that feel threatened by China and Russia. They know we are the only ones that can protect them since Western Europe has de-militarized. With the possible exception of Australia you will not hear them cry about our death penalty.

In Christ, Nathan Paujo

-- Anonymous, June 12, 2001

I think even if it was a family member I wouldn't another person to die for it. The chances of it being someone innocent are to great. Mic

-- Anonymous, January 29, 2003

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