Last night, at 11:08, Troy Davis breathed his last, courtesy of the State of Georgia. Davis was convicted of the 1989 murder of off-duty police officer Mark McPhail. I’m not going to talk about Davis’ guilt or innocence, except to say that his guilt is far from certain. In fact, I’m not going to say much at all that’s new, because the idea that a “Christian nation” would kill its citizens is just too depressing. What I am going to do is edit and repost a portion of an earlier entry that deals with the same subject. The original is titled UnChristian and what I said then applies now.
I have long marveled at the disconnect in conservative thought that allows people to call themselves “pro-life” while supporting the death penalty. I’m not sure if I’m getting this right, but the idea seems to be “All life is precious…, except the ones we don’t like”. And, the ones they don’t like seem to be poor people, minorities, convicted felons and pro-lifers. What really boggles my mind is that many of the people who feel this way claim to follow Jesus, a man who suffered the death penalty himself and whose words condemned such actions. In Matthew 5:21-22 He said,
“You have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago, Don’t commit murder, and all who commit murder will be in danger of judgment. But I say to you that everyone who is angry with their brother or sister will be in danger of judgment. If they say to their brother or sister, ‘You idiot,’ they will be in danger of being condemned by the governing council. And if they say, ‘You fool,’ they will be in danger of fiery hell.
And, in Matthew 5:38-42, He told us,
“You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you that you must not oppose those who want to hurt you. If people slap you on your right cheek, you must turn the left cheek to them as well. When they wish to haul you to court and take your shirt, let them have your coat too. When they force you to go one mile, go with them two. Give to those who ask, and don’t refuse those who wish to borrow from you.
In Luke 6:27-31, He said,
“But I say to you who are willing to hear: Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, offer the other one as well. If someone takes your coat, don’t withhold your shirt either. Give to everyone who asks and don’t demand your things back from those who take them. Treat people in the same way that you want them to treat you.
I don’t know about you, but the Jesus I follow is dead set against taking anyone’s life. When Peter asked how many times we should forgive someone who wrongs us, He replied “Not just seven times, but rather as many as seventy-seven times.” As Donald Spoto pointed out in his book The Hidden Jesus, it’s pretty damn hard to forgive someone after they’re dead. And forgiving them, then executing them? Well, that kinda takes the shine off the forgiving you’ve done. In the original version of this post, I said that I wouldn’t go as far as Spoto and say that you can’t really be a Christian and support the death penalty, but that’s not the case anymore. I’m saying it straight out: your claim to be a Christian rings hollow when you don’t follow the way of Jesus; a way which, as the scriptures above show, finds the taking of any life abhorent. And, a nation that is willing to starve, impoverish and even murder its citizens is so far from the Christian ideal it’s ridiculous.