I didn’t watch the Republican debates the other night, just like I haven’t watched any of the previous ones. That’s not a surprise, though. With my ADD, sitting through a bunch of nimrods bitching at each other is about as likely as Congress actually agreeing on something. It doesn’t help that the current batch of Republicans give crazy a bad name. There was a time when I was a dyed-in-the-wool, conservative Republican hard-core cold warrior. In those days, I was ultra-conservative and, like most Republicans, I thought Ronald Reagan hung the moon. But, even in the deepest depths of my Reagan Republican mania would I ever have considered voting for any one of the fools in that debate. These guys love to invoke the name of St. Ronald, obviously hoping some of his magic will rub off. It ain’t workin’ and his daughter, Patti Davis, agrees with me. In an article she wrote for Time Magazine, she said “Note to Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and especially Newt Gingrich — you can invoke my father’s name until your tongues fall out, but you will never be anywhere near his shadow.” Now, whether you agreed with his politics or not (and I don’t anymore), you had to admit Reagan had style. He also had character. Another statement Davis made in that article really stood out to me. It was this: “The moment that would have broken my father’s heart was the moment when applause broke out at the mention of more than 200 executions ordered by Rick Perry in Texas. It was stunning and brought tears to my eyes. This is what we’ve come to? That we applaud at executions?”
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.” And, 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 kinda takes the shine off the forgiving you’ve done. I’m not going to go as far as Spoto and say that you can’t really be a Christian and support the death penalty, too. But, I will say that killing anyone is definitely an unChristian thing to do. So, is applauding anyone who signs the papers for it 200 times.