The Executed God: The Way of the Cross in Lockdown America

By Mark Lewis Taylor | Go to book overview

preface

Isn’t it odd that Christendom—that huge body of humankind that claims
spiritual descent from the Jewish carpenter of Nazareth—claims to pray to
and adore a being who was prisoner of Roman power, an inmate of the
empire’s death row? That the one it considers the personification of the
Creator of the Universe was tortured, humiliated, beaten, and crucified on
a barren scrap of land on the imperial periphery, at Golgotha, the place of
the skull? That the majority of its adherents strenuously support the state’s
execution of thousands of imprisoned citizens? That the overwhelming
majority of its judges, prosecutors, and lawyers—-those who condemn,
prosecute, and sell out the condemned—claim to be followers of the fet-
tered, spat-upon, naked God?

—Mumia Abu-Jamal, Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of
Conscience

Is it a contradiction that Christians pray to and adore their imprisoned and executed God while supporting or tolerating the execution and imprisonment of so many today? The United States is now on a lockdown craze, and many confessing Christians have played a key part in building it up. Termed lockdown America in a recent book by Christian Parenti,1 this nation now incarcerates more than two million citizens. The massive number now confined–70 percent of whom are people of color—is nearly quadruple the figure of 1980, being “the largest and most frenetic correctional buildup of any country in the history of the world.”2

Mumia Abu-Jamal is one of these imprisoned two million, and one of the thirty-seven hundred locked down on death row (usually for twenty-two or twenty-three hours per day), awaiting execution. He is fighting for his life and for a new trial, aided in this by Amnesty International, branches of both the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and by a worldwide movement.3 In 1999 and 2000 alone, while Abu-Jamal waits and fights for his own life, nearly two hundred people were marched down prison corridors for execution, often with the approval of Christian chaplains and U.S. Christians.

Is Abu-Jamal right? Is there not only something “odd” but perhaps also something hollow, inconsistent, wrong in Christians supporting the imprisoning and executing apparatus of lockdown America while claiming to be followers of a “fettered, spat-upon, naked God”?

-xi-

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