The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Death penalty: Yes or no?

Readers cite Jesus and God to make the case both ways

Thank you for David Miller's editorial, "A killing lie" (July). What a contrast to the letters to the editor on gun control. We need to decide whom we will worship: a God of life or of death. Most civilized nations have discovered what we refuse to face--that glorification of violence and belief in the myth of redemptive violence does, in fact, keep the upward "spiral of destruction" going. No other first-world country comes near to wreaking the havoc we do on members of its citizenry. Jesus taught us that vengeance, retribution and violence are neither saving nor redemptive, even as he showed us another way: the way of the cross.

Gary Roth
New Bern, N.C.

When we execute a person before they get to the point of remorse, have we contributed to the destruction of his/her soul as well? Executions in this country should be done away with, but we have to be careful about replacing the death penalty with life in prison without parole. Sister Helen Prejean includes in a footnote in Dead Man Walking that an individual rarely repeats the offense of murder and that murderers have the lowest rate of recidivism of any group of offenders.

A.R. Thies
Mays Landing, N.J.

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