Consistent Life Ethic

Elizabeth D. Rios 06-08-2015

Being pro-life means opposing capital punishment.

06-02-2015
Conservatives coming out against capital punishment are part of a broader movement among conservatives who are supporting criminal justice reform policies once largely the domain of liberal-minded politicians.
Maria Puente 05-22-2015
Josh Duggar, formerly executive director of the Family Research Council Action.

Josh Duggar, formerly executive director of the Family Research Council Action. Image via RNS.

The Duggars, the reality television family famous for its progeny (19 Kids and Counting) and its conservatism, are reeling now that oldest son, Josh, has been forced to acknowledge he was investigated for molesting underage girls when he was a teenager in Arkansas.

Josh Duggar apologized Thursday and abruptly resigned his job at the Family Research Council in Washington, one of the leading conservative groups fighting abortion and gay marriage among other causes.

 

Shane Claiborne 05-19-2015
Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial, by H. Powers on Flickr.com.

Boston Marathon Bombing Memorial, by H. Powers on Flickr.com.

His guilt is clear. He posted offensive, arrogant messages all over the Internet. He carved a manifesto of revenge into the boat where he hid as police captured him. He flipped a bird at the camera in his jail cell.

The evil he is responsible for is horrific. More than 250 people injured. Seventeen people lost their limbs. Four people died — one of them 8 years old.

It’s no surprise that a jury found him guilty, and still no surprise that they sentenced him to death.

What’s remarkable is the lack of enthusiasm that accompanied Tsarnaev’s death sentence. One person after another had mercy on their lips – from victims of the Boston bombing to the legendary Sr. Helen Prejean who met with Dzhokhar and spoke of his heartfelt remorse.

Margaret Benefiel 05-01-2015
vectorbest / Shutterstock.com

vectorbest / Shutterstock.com

News reports about the trial and the jury’s deliberations spark fury online. Tempers rise as commenters express their opinions about what they believe should be Tsarnaev’s fate. For example, when the Catholic bishops stood in front of the courthouse expressing their opposition to the death penalty, many responded with outrage: “He should be made to suffer as much as he made others suffer.” “Let him fry.” “Torture him and then kill him.” Similarly, when Bill and Denise Richard, the parents of the 8-year-old boy killed by the explosion, wrote a letter expressing their desire to take the death penalty off the table, their views provoked ire.

What motivates these different perspectives? Is justice about vengeance, an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? Is someone who advocates for life imprisonment soft on crime? Is such a person naïve?

04-16-2015
Nearly 400 Catholic and evangelical leaders said the occasion of Holy Week prompted them to "speak out with renewed urgency against the death penalty."
04-02-2015
Nearly 400 Church leaders and theologians have released a statement calling for the end of the death penalty, timed to coincide with Holy Week.
04-01-2015
More than 400 Catholic and evangelical leaders are using Jesus’ state-sanctioned execution to call for an end to the death penalty.
Greg Williams 03-27-2015
Death penalty protest in Seattle. Photo by javacolleen / Flickr.com

Death penalty protest in Seattle. Photo by javacolleen / Flickr.com

The National Latino Evangelical Coalition has voted to support repeal of the death penalty, calling it an anti-life practice. Urging their 3,000 congregations to support efforts to end capital punishment across the country, NaLEC joins an increasing number of Christians across the country and internationally who are realizing afresh the moral problems with the death penalty. Most recently Pope Francis went beyond the official teaching of the Roman Catholic Church to call the “death penalty inadmissible, no matter how serious the crime committed.”

“After prayer, reflection, and dialog with anti-death penalty organizations like Equal Justice USA,” said Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of NaLEC, in a news release. “we felt compelled to add our voice to this important issue. As Christ followers, we are called to work toward justice for all. And as Latinos, we know too well that justice is not always even-handed.”

In the gospels, at least, not a sparrow falls to the ground without God's attune. 

Robin Kirk 03-04-2015

What it looks like when we go to Dick Cheney's "dark side." 

03-04-2015
Standing outside the prison that night, Tragesser couldn't see it as anything but an act of God.
03-03-2015
The impending execution of Georgia death-row inmate Kelly Gissendaner has an international audience.
03-03-2015
Theologians from various traditions have joined together in an effort to gain clemency for death row inmate—and fellow theologian—Kelly Gissendaner.
Photo via Naumov / Shutterstock / RNS

A baby being vaccinated. Photo via Naumov / Shutterstock / RNS

With measles outbreaks in 14 states and health authorities imploring parents to weigh the minimal risks of vaccines against the ravages of preventable disease, some Christians are raising an objection of a completely different sort: the abortion connection.

Abortion?

The Internet rumors that claim vaccinations mean having tiny pieces of aborted fetuses injected into your body are flat-out wrong, yet there is a grain of truth in the assertion that vaccinations and abortions are linked.

Many of the most common vaccines, for rubella and chicken pox for example, are grown in and then removed from cells descended from the cells of aborted fetuses. Pregnant women aborted them about 40 years ago by choice, and not with the intent of aiding vaccine production.

Yet for some religious believers, those facts do not lift what they see as a moral prohibition against vaccination.

01-02-2015
Perpetrators of crime must be punished for their actions. No one should be the victim of a violent crime. The death penalty, however, does not bring us closer to justice or wholeness.
12-11-2014
A new coalition has been formed to bring about the end of the death penalty in the United States.
12-10-2014
The National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty announced on Tuesday the launch of a new coalition to pressure state governments to end capital punishment.
Timothy King 11-06-2014

Death never makes for easy conversation. But the choice of a 29-year-old Brittany Maynard to take her own life over the weekend has a lot of people talking. There are the sad and belligerent comments in the name of Christianity, as well as those from supporters of her decision and still others who seek to be empathetic but strongly disagree.

Nearly five years ago, I was laying in an ICU, on oxygen, catheterized, wearing a diaper, and on a constant flow of the most potent narcotics the hospital had available. I could not eat, drink, or even hold an ice cube in my mouth and was unable to get out of bed under my own power. Much of my family had gathered in the room to hear the doctor pronounce that there was nothing more they could do.

My situation was not the same as Brittany’s or any others’ with terminal cancer, but this experience left me with a heightened awareness of some areas where Christians need to do better when faced with death and pain. It’s beyond the scope of this post to lay out all of the theological and moral implications involved, let alone all of the political and legal implications, but here are four areas for thought.

09-18-2014
One of my dear friends, Jim Wallis at Sojourners in Washington, told me something I’ll never forget: “Politicians are always going to hold up their finger and check the direction of the wind before they vote. What we have to do is change the direction of the wind.” That’s what we need to do.

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