The 1991 ELCA Churchwide Assembly adopted the social statement on the death penalty by more than a two-thirds majority. The statement affirmed our church's opposition to capital punishment. Today it's increasingly evident that public opinion and the law are moving toward abolishing the death penalty. These are among the factors that are coalescing to hasten its abolishment:
• The moral or religious convictions against killing people.
• Legal issues ranging from jury tampering and false witness testimony to incompetent legal representation and judicial misconduct.
• The inability to be 100 percent certain that the accused is guilty, leading to the likelihood that innocent people have been executed.
• Racism: African-Americans represent 13 percent of the U.S. population but 42 percent of those on death row.
• Wealth inequality: more than 90 percent of those on death row could not afford their own attorney.
• Studies show the death penalty isn't a deterrent to murder.
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