Friday, May 27, 2016
The death penalty was abolished in Canada more than forty years ago and the murder rate continues to decline in this country. I used to wear a button which asked "Why do we kill people to show that killing people is wrong?" The United States is the only developed nation, if you can describe it as such with Donald Trump as a presidential candidate, which still executes its citizens. There have been 14 executions in the US so far in 2016 in five states: six in Texas, five in Georgia and one each in Alabama, Florida and Missouri. Last year, there were 28 in six states.
There are Christians in the US who eloquently and faithfully oppose the death penalty, including Shane Claiborne and Sister Helen Prejean, of Dead Man Walking fame.
Here is the irony. It may be a pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, which brings about the change which vigils and prayers has not been able to effect. Pfizer has announced that it will no longer supply the drugs which death penalty states depend upon for execution. This doesn't cover every form of execution, but this is one more challenge for those jurisdictions which use chemicals to kill people.
Do I think some people deserve the death penalty? Certainly. Should we use this as a retributive response to heinous crimes. Nope.
We know about the death penalty as Christians. Good Friday is about three executions by a regime that used crucifixion as a gruesome deterrent to execution. We know that the Roman Empire is long gone, so that didn't work out well. And Jesus, peacemaker, is still present in our world. Perhaps Pfizer is the answer to prayer.