On the Death Penalty

I apologize to all for not posting recently. I’ve been in the finals season at school and am finally close to being done! (YAY!) Also, on Saturday I was Chrismated with my fiance Michelle. I chose the name Benjamin Augustine in honor or my given Christian name (and the great patriarch) and also Augustine without whom I would not be in the Orthodox Church, and without whose prayers, I would certainly fail. Michelle chose to keep her name as it is a perfectly good name, the female form of the Archangel Michael.

Anyways, I have been thinking much as of late on ethical issues, especially my opposition to the death penalty. In weighing of the convictions of my conscience with the teachings of my church, I came across this resolution passed by the 1989 All-American Council:


August, 1989.

WHEREAS Orthodox Christians should be called to go beyond the political, social, and legal issues raised by capital punishment and recognize and address the deeper moral, ethical, and religious questions of the supreme value of human life in a manner consistent with our opposition to abortion and mercy killing, and in all such questions involving life and death the Church must always champion life; and

WHEREAS in an effort to further the respect for all human life and to witness to the redemptive nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ who Himself prevented the legal execution of a woman (John 8:3-11) and realizing that premature death resulting from the application of the death penalty can prevent the rehabilitation, reconciliation, and redemption of the offender; and

WHEREAS, while we recognize the necessity to punish those guilty of violent crime, we also recognize that there is no humane way to execute a human being;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox Church in America supports the abolition of the death penalty in this and all countries and does urge our elected and appointed officials in those states where prisoners are still executed to introduce and support appropriate legislation aimed at abolishing the death penalty;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that this Council requests all governors of states where the death penalty is still in force to halt all further executions according to the power of their office, but that legislative provisions be made for life imprisonment without possibility of parole for those subject to the death penalty;

FINALLY, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Ninth All-American Council of the Orthodox church in America supports and encourages religious bodies, organizations and human rights groups which seek the abolition of the death penalty.

Orthodox Church in America

I will, sometime in the coming week put forth what I see as a Christian response to the Death Penalty and the overarching issues involved herein.

I covet your comments and ideas
-Benjamin Augustine


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michael Bauman
    Dec 18, 2009 @ 14:59:19

    Both oppposition to the death penalty and its support are often voiced in what seems to be a vacuum. By that I mean that the position is held without regard to specifics or the effect on the people most intimately involved–the victims families. All the attention is placed upon the perpetrator. That is wrong.

    Some further observations:

    The state has the authority to kill to protect its citizens. The question then becomes if the death penalty actually protects anyone where life without parole is an option.

    The death penalty is usually applied in emotional circumstances. Thus making its application uneven especially when social status is figured in.

    The movie, Dead Man Walking, convinced me that there are times when only the death penalty can bring a person to the point of repentance.

    Many people with violent tendencies have a brain dysfunction of some type. This does not remove the reponsibility for their actions, but it probably should ameliorate the punishment to life in prison.

    Some people want to be executed.

    How is the state going to judge acutal repentance and should punishments be shortened if someone actually does repent.

    Mistakes are often made.

    If the death penalty is used it should only be used for the most heinous of crimes with the most intransigent defendants where the evidence is certain.


  2. Trackback: Orthodox Church in America and The Death Penality « Sowing Seeds of Orthodoxy

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