Periscope: State Not Walking by Faith

By Streuli, Ted | THE JOURNAL RECORD, September 15, 2015 | Go to article overview

Periscope: State Not Walking by Faith


Streuli, Ted, THE JOURNAL RECORD


It's another execution day in Oklahoma.

One of the condemned man's greatest advocates is Sister Helen Prejean. The 76-year-old nun from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, joined the Sisters of St. Joseph of Medaille in 1957. She started her prison ministry in 1981 when she became pen pals with Louisiana death row inmate Patrick Sonnier, whom she visited frequently. The experience led to her 1993 best-selling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty, which was made into the 1995 film.

In 2013, Sister Helen gave a speech in New Orleans titled, "The Spark: Christians as Catalysts Against the Death Penalty." Promoting that appearance on her blog, Sister Helen wrote, "While I've been traveling the country I've been sensing the changing shifts in the Catholic community, a tide rising against the death penalty. At the same time, I've seen Christians in general and, indeed, people of all faiths doing important, determined work to create a country- wide shift towards abolition."

It made me wonder whether Christians are opposed to capital punishment. I know what Presbyterians think but I wasn't sure about the other denominations, so I looked it up.

Generally, the mainline Catholic and Protestant denominations are opposed to the death penalty while Fundamentalist and other Evangelical denominations - except the Amish and Mennonites - favor capital punishment.

The Presbyterian Church (USA) is abolitionist. So is the Methodist Church, the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Reformed Church in America, Disciples of Christ and the Eastern Orthodox churches. The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) opposes the death penalty, as do American Baptists, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and Unitarian Universalists. The Amish and Mennonites are opposed too.

Among mainline denominations, the only ones in favor of capital punishment are Southern Baptists and the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod. …

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