We recall that Texas is the State responsible for more executions than any other – of the 46 executions in the USA in 2010, 17 were carried out in Texas. Rick Perry confirmed his support for the death penalty. But he was saying only in June during an anti-abortion demo that he believed that “human life is a sacred gift which comes from God”. Shurely shome mistake…
The Washington Post has relaunched the debate in its “On Faith” column: is it consistent for a Christian to oppose abortion and support the death penalty at the same time?
For an initial commentary, here is Susan Brook Thistlethwaite, professor in the Chicago Theological Seminary:
“If you are in favour of the death penalty, you are subchristian. You are conducting yourself rather like the ancient Romans who executed prisoners, including Jesus. To be in favour of the death penalty is to embrace a Roman ideology, not a Christian one. The Romans used power to control people, unlike Jesus who proposed to share power and to build a kingdom grounded in solidarity. The imperial Roman model of power promises peace through victory – supported by the death penalty – whereas Jesus offers peace through justice. To be for the death penalty, in ancient Rome or in modern Texas, is to choose the camp of power over that of justice. In the same way, the choice of being against abortion is allied to being in power and in control. And if life is so sacred for the Pro-Life lobby, why do they kill surgeons who carry out abortions – as has occurred several times – or attack health services designed for women, or abolish the allocations to family planning clinics which 90% of the time prevent and avoid abortions? The Pro-Life, Pro-Executions stance of Governor Perry has nothing to do with a serious life ethic. It is rooted in the thirst for power and domination. It contradicts the healing ideals and solidarity desired by Jesus of Nazareth.”
Another opinion expressed in The Washington Post on the same subject is John Spong’s, the American Anglican bishop often quoted in Evangile et Liberté. He says, “I do not understand why folk are surprised by the contradictions of religious people. The most religious part of our country practised and defended slavery and racial segregation without qualm. If the voices of the Protestant religious Right and the Vatican were silenced, opposition to the basic rights of gay people would be almost inexistent. It is the spiritual zealots of the Pro-Life movement who assassinate doctors in family planning clinics. I myself have received 16 death threats: not one of these came from an atheist or a Buddhist; they all came from “true”, Bible Christians. The religion of our times speaks more about controlling people’s behaviour, about threats and fear, than about love, freedom and the blossoming of humanity. The Jesus who said, “Love your enemies” and “I have come among you so that you might have life in all its fullness” must weep when he sees what men do in his name.”
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