Deploring the United States’ “fascination with the death penalty,” Carter listed out what he called “the overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty.” Carter noted that the death penalty has been unsuccessful in deterring violent crime, decimated states’ budgets and been applied unjustly across racial lines.
Chief among Carter’s concerns, however, is how the death penalty violates the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote:
Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting Holy Scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Jesus forgave an adulterous woman sentenced to be stoned to death and explained away the “eye for an eye” scripture.
Sadly, Carter stands in a league of his own. He is the only American President in modern history to advocate for the repeal of the death penalty.
As the Supreme Court weighs the Department of Justice’s case against Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has an op-ed in The Washington Post reaffirming the USCCB’s opposition to the law and explaining the moral principles behind their position:
Archbishop Gomez’s letter comes on the heels of the USCCB joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case (over 50 other faith-based groups signed a separate brief as well) and the inclusion of this issue as an example of threats to religious freedom in the bishops’ letter on the subject earlier this month.
After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases.
Two nationally prominent pastors — Joel Hunter of Northland Church in the Orlando area, and NAACP Vice President of Stakeholder Affairs Rev. Nelson Rivers III — have an op-ed in today’s Orlando Sentinel about the faith community’s role in addressing the many societal ills exposed by the tragedy of Trayvon Martin’s killing, such as racial division, the devaluation of young black men, and our culture’s exaltation of violence. Here’s their conclusion:
…as the fallout of this tragedy shows, we don’t all mourn when the innocent die. National opinion polls, media sensationalism and offensive rhetoric reflect that the death of this young man has become a flashpoint for division rather than a call to reconciliation among too many Americans.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Not too long ago, lynchings were commonplace, entire towns were off-limits to people of color, and police brutally enforced segregation. But the Civil Rights Movement showed that the teachings of our faiths can foster the peace, love and courage that break down barriers, change people’s hearts and build a more just society.
We can bring about the day when being the wrong race in the wrong place at the wrong time isn’t a life-threatening circumstance. But progress will take an honest acknowledgement of how much work we have to do, and an earnest desire to do it. We owe Trayvon Martin and the countless others who are killed on our streets and in our communities every day our best effort. The teachings of our faith demand nothing less.
Having racially diverse clergy speak out as the tension escalates in the media and in the community where Trayvon was killed is important right now. Read the whole thing here.
Demonstrators, activists and community leaders gathered yesterday in Washington, DC outside the offices of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) a secretive group of right-wing lobbyists which is responsible for pushing the “stand your ground” laws that have come under scrutiny since Trayvon Martin’s tragic death at the hand of a vigilante gunman.
Progressive faith leaders, including FPL’s own Rev. Jennifer Butler and Rev. Michael Livingston, Director of the National Council of Churches Poverty Initiative, joined the protest to call attention to the moral dimension of the debate over these right-wing laws and Trayvon’s senseless killing: