Sunday, May 04, 2014

Capital punishment & the Greyhound to glory

Jesus was crucified, so obviously God favors the death penalty --- my favorite among the pro-capital punishment arguments floating around last week in the wake of Oklahoma's botched attempt to execute convicted murderer Clayton Lockett (left).

We're just lucky Jesus came along when he did, another chimed in. Today, he'd have died by lethal injection and we'd all be wearing little gold gurneys around our necks.

Lethal injection has become a problematic strategy for state-sanctioned killing for a couple of reasons. Reputable drug manufacturers are unwilling to provide the materials; medical professionals generally are unwilling to administer them. Plus, except in Texas, executions are infrequent and the personnel involved in them, inexperienced.

Iowa abandoned the death penalty in 1965. Republicans try to resurrect it when it seems politically expedient to do so, but so far these attempts have failed to gain traction.

So the operations have become a deadly sort of amateur hour. In Lockett's case, something went badly wrong and he apparently suffered a good deal before finally expiring of a heart attack some 45 minutes after the process began.


The polling data involving capital punishment is kind of interesting. The latest Gallup Poll results, from 2013, suggest that 60 percent of Americans are in favor of the death penalty when murder is involved.

But apparently only about 5 percent believe Jesus would approve, according to data from a Barna Group study cited here by Jonathan Merritt. That includes Christians.

So there's a bit of a disconnect, since interpretational acrobatics are required to make even a circumstantial case implicating Jesus in a call for blood retribution. That guy was all into forgiveness, after all, and turning the other cheek.

Al Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's flagship seminary, penned a piece for CNN entitled "Why Christians should support the death penalty" without mentioning Jesus once. 

So let's face it, from many perspectives, we serve an inadequate, wussy and downright embarrassing savior. All that love. Jeez!


Rachel Held Evans put it this way, in a Twitter comment: "I think this all points back to a culture in which Jesus is viewed simply as mechanism for salvation, not someone to obey & follow."

And that's about it, I'd say.

Many of us see the big guy as driver on the Greyhound to glory --- but unqualified to offer advice on how we live our lives otherwise.

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