NOTE: Please read Part 1 of this blog post before reading here.
As a former opponent of the death penalty and a born again Christian myself, I would have sided with the abolitionists years ago. However, after reading these two news sources, I would like to explain why I disagree with the religious leaders and the abolitionists in West Virginia and I would rebut them with examples and statistics.
|Saint Michael Vanquishing Satan|
Response to Reverend Dennis Sparks:
P.S. The Rev. Dennis Sparks, executive director of the West Virginia Council of Churches, revealed a personal brush with tragedy, recounting the slaying of a cousin.
“The rage came out deep inside me at that time,” he said.
“The rage came out deep inside me at that time,” he said.
“We knew the state would simply lock him away.”
As time passed, however, Sparks explored his church’s position on the death penalty.
“I knew there was something deeper inside of me, deeper than rage, that deep part of me in the depths of my soul, that says there’s another way, there’s a greater way, and I need faith to go into that direction to return to what is right,” he said.
“I’ve been down that road.”
Sparks reminded the judiciary committee that Jesus once implored an audience to forget the Old Testament creed of “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,” and “turn the other cheek, love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you.”
"We know, as some have quoted in Deuteronomy: 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth,' " Sparks said. "But Jesus said, 'A new commandment I give unto you; I say unto you turn the other cheek.'"
REBUTTAL: Dennis Sparks is mixing up the love and justice of God. He is wrong. He is right to say that God wants us to love our enemies but what he failed to point out that the role of the government is different from the role of the citizens. If we and the government are to turn the other cheek, where will it lead us to if all our criminals, whether they are murderers or not, go unpunished?
Response to Bishop William Boyd Grove:
P.S. Retired United Methodist Bishop William Boyd Grove said, "The United Methodist Church and the West Virginia Council of Churches believe that the state of West Virginia occupies the high ground morally on this issue, and we urge you to maintain that position. We believe that all life is sacred and that no life is beyond change and redemption. We believe that because we find its truth in the Christian faith."
REBUTTAL: All life is scared? If all life is sacred, then we must stop abortion and call also for the disbandment of the armed forces and disarm the police too. When you say all life is sacred, are victims life sacred or only murderers’ lives are sacred?
Scottish Theologian John Murray was quoted in his book, Principles of Conduct:
Nothing shows the moral bankruptcy of a people or of a generation more than disregard for the sanctity of human life. And it is this same atrophy of moral fiber that appears in the plea for the abolition of the death penalty. It is the sanctity of life that validates the death penalty for the crime of murder. It is the sense of this sanctity that constrains the demand for the infliction of this penalty. The deeper our regard for life the firmer will be our hold upon the penal sanction which the violation of that sanctity merit.
Response to Carol Warren:
P.S. Carol Warren, also representing the Council of Churches, called capital punishment “state-sanctioned, premeditated killing.”
She also said the death penalty is discriminatory because a disproportionate number of “people of color wind up on death rows.”
“It seems to be the only reason to have a death penalty is revenge,” she said.
“We all fall short of what God calls us to do. I hope and pray in the moment I meet my Creator I do not get what I deserve.”
REBUTTAL: Please see my rebuttal to Bishop William Boyd Grove. If the death penalty is revenge, then any punishment can be revenge. Why not get rid of all punishments?
If the death penalty is racist, eliminate racism not the penalty. If prisons are racist, we do not empty it, we eliminate the racism. Please my blog post on ‘I AM NOT TROY DAVIS & I AM NOT LAWRENCE BREWER.’
P.S. Carol Warren of the West Virginia Council of Churches said the ultimate judgment of murderers must be left to God, not men.
"In the sixth grade, my daughter had a button that said, 'Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?' "
She said she found it odd that an 11-year-old could have so much more understanding of the issue than some of the adults in the room.
"I have to believe that God's unconditional love reaches out to the perpetrator in the same way it reaches out to the victim. It is not our task to decide if someone is ultimately irredeemable."
REBUTTAL: Death Penalty Expert, Dudley Sharp was quoted as saying:
We don't kill people to show that killing people is wrong. Even with no sanction, most folks know that committing murder is wrong. The moral confusion exists because some accept the amoral or immoral position that all killing is equal. For those, like some anti-death penalty folks, who believe all killing is morally equivalent, they would equate the slaughter of 6 million innocent Jews and 6-7 million additional innocents with the execution of those guilty murderers committing that slaughter. They would also equate the rape and murder of children with the execution of the rapist/murderer. This is what the anti-death penalty folks do, morally equate killing (murder) with the punishment for that murder, another killing (execution). For such anti-death penalty folks to be consistent, they must also equate holding people against their will (illegal kidnapping) with the sanction for it, the holding people against their will (legal incarceration) or the taking money away from people (illegal robbery) with a sanction for that, taking money away from people (legal restitution). Some anti-death penalty folks are either incapable of knowing the moral differences between crime and punishment, guilty criminals and their innocent victims, or they are knowingly using a dishonest slogan by equating killing (murder) with killing (execution).
I also can argue that if our country was invaded, when we kill foreign invaders, are we no different from the enemy soldiers?
Saint Thomas Aquinas was quoted in his article, Summa Contra Gentiles, Book 3, Chapter 147:
The fate of the wicked being open to conversion so long as they live does not preclude their being open also to the just punishment of death. Indeed the danger threatening the community from their life is greater and more certain than the good expected by their conversion. Besides, in the hour of death, they have every facility for turning to God by repentance. And if they are so obstinate that even in the hour of death their heart will not go back upon its wickedness, a fairly probable reckoning may be made that they never would have returned to a better mind.
There are many examples of prison killers and recidivist murderers who kill again and show no remorse.
Response to Thornton Cooper:
P.S. South Charleston resident Thornton Cooper said he was proud as a teenager when the state first decided to abolish capital punishment. He argued that bringing it back would do nothing to ease the pain of the victims' families or deter crime.
Cooper's aunt, Ida Mae Cooper, was kidnapped from her home in Canaan Valley and murdered in 1978.
"No matter what you do to a person who kills another person, it will not bring back the victim," Cooper said. "No matter what we do, whether you make us like Texas or Florida - which have lots of executions - or you keep it like the way it is, young men under 30 will go out and commit murders."
REBUTTAL: I respect Thornton Cooper’s opposition to the death penalty but I denounce everything he said. If he is proud that his state abolished the death penalty, he should hear from French Journalist, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr who once said:
“If we are to abolish the death penalty, I should like to see the first step taken by my friends the murderers.”
Please my blog post, ‘MURDERED VICTIMS’ FAMILIES AGAINST THE DEATH PENALTY’
Exactly true, do you notice that murderers from death penalty states have chosen West Virginia to commit heinous crimes, as they know they will not be punished with death? Even a strong opponent of the death penalty, Alan Dershowitz conceded in a death penalty debate: “Of course, the death penalty deters some crimes, that’s why you have to pay more for a hit man in a death penalty state than a non-death penalty state.”
"No matter what you do to a person who kills another person, it will not bring back the victim."
Thornton Cooper should ask for prisons and all punishment to be abolished, as they do not bring the victim back to life either.
I and many victims’ families for the death penalty do not view deterrence as the first two reasons for being pro death penalty (I formerly was a strong opponent of the death penalty). We support the death penalty for justice and protection of the public. Please see these two quotes from two of my favorite philosophers, Immanuel Kant and Saint Thomas Aquinas:
Please bear in mind, Illinois’s homicide rate had more than doubled since they abolished the death penalty in March 2011. There are two non-death penalty states with high homicide rates too, here are a few examples:
The District of Columbia is one of such states and they also have a very strict gun law. They are also No. 1 in the country in firearm murders. Or look at Detroit, Michigan who has no death penalty as well. They are No. 1 in violent crimes.
Clatsop County District Attorney Joshua Marquis once said:
“Citing a high murder rate in Texas makes as little sense as citing Michigan or the District of Columbia - both places with much higher than average murder rate - as examples of how. Comparing the United States with other countries is equally pointless. There are very stable countries like Switzerland or Japan with low murder rates (one has the death penalty, the other not) or point to countries like Brazil with murder rates much worse than the United States.”
Response to Julie archer:
P.S. Others argued that despite scientific advancements the legal system is still flawed and therefore should not include a penalty so irreversible as the death penalty.
"What's particularly disturbing about the fact that we're considering reinstating the death penalty now in West Virginia is that we're still living with and dealing with the legacy of Fred Zain," said Julie Archer of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group.
Zain was a state police serologist from 1986 to 1989 who was found to have exaggerated or faked lab tests in dozens of cases.
"If someone is serving a life sentence and have been wrongly convicted, they have the right to appeal," Archer said. "But if they've been executed under the death penalty, they do not have that opportunity."
REBUTTAL: If the legal system is flawed, fix the problem and add massive safeguards. The United Arab Emirates are reforming their justice system to ensure that only the guilty will be punished, see my blog post ‘SAFEGUARDS IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES COURTS’.
In regards to people like Fred Zain, it is the duty of the state to discipline their own men before prosecuting criminals. See my blog label, ‘discipline’ and also this article from Professor Robert Blecker, ‘Policing the Police’.
Fred Zain was similar to Dr. Ralph Erdmann who pleaded guilty to perjury and tampering with government records in other cases he testified in. It is because the state is dealing with capital cases, that they take extra care and they can check out more for corrupted people in the system. The cop killer, Randall Wayne Hafdahl, Sr. was still proven guilty and executed. These means that you cannot let the guilty live. Please see my blog label, ‘Safeguards’.
I agree that when the defendant is serving a life sentence, if wrongly convicted, he can get out. However, capital defendants are treated more fairly with more scrutiny because lives are at stakes. A wrongfully convicted person may rot away and die in prison, if you look at the cases of Timothy Cole and Bobby Joe Clark.
A Republican politician, Larry Faircloth from West Virginia said on Monday 21 February 2011:
“A lot of the violent crimes in West Virginia are committed by people living outside the state”, Faircloth said.
"It is so bad for law enforcement and the prosecutors to keep up," he said. "And perhaps if we sent a stronger message to those criminals, maybe they would conduct their business elsewhere or get prosecuted. If they've taken the lives of another person, they would give up their own lives for that activity.
"I'm a Christian, and we have to do something. Year by year, it is getting worse," he added. "Innocent people are dying. Officers across the country who defend us every day, their lives are being taken by people who are running criminal operations. I think it is time for somebody to step up and offer that as a solution to the problem."
To my fellow Christians in West Virginia, do not allow your state to give in to Satan’s plan. Do not let the justice system go easy on evildoers, hear the cries of the grieving victims’ families. Please see my prayer on Voting No on Proposition 34.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT CHRISTIANITY AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT, PLEASE GO TO THE FOLLOWING LINKS:
1. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Genesis 9 verse 6
2. John Calvin’s commentary on Romans 13 verse 4
3. Thou Shalt Not Kill & The New Testament
4. Saint Thomas Aquinas in defense of the death penalty
5. John Murray (Page 122 of Principles of Conduct)
6. Born Again Christian Journalist, Peter Hitchens
7. The Last Rites
8. Article 37 of the 39 Articles of Religion in 1571
10. Professor Walter Bern’s article: Religion and the Death Penalty: Can’t have one without the other?
11. Philip Jensen’s article: Bali Bombers
12. Justice Antonin Scalia’s article: God’s Justice and Ours
13. Gleason Leonard Archer, Jr. on the Two Witnesses rule
14. Fulton John Sheen on a Just Punishment
15. Charles Caldwell Ryrie on the sixth commandment
16. Dr. James Dobson’s interviews Ted Bundy
17. Kerby Anderson’s article: "John 8 is a Condemnation of Capital Punishment!"