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NEWS: Should Christians Support the Death Penalty?


NEWS: Should Christians Support the Death Penalty?

Credit / Source: Urban christian News

During an event on Monday, liberal activist Shane Claiborne and other panelists went on the offensive against capital punishment. They made the case why capital punishment was wrong and Christians should oppose it.

The panel, held on March 7 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, included Claiborne; Rev. Bernard “Chris” Dorsey, a professor at Western Theological Seminary; Gail Rice, an author, consultant and adult literacy specialist; and Randy Steidl, a former death-row inmate who was falsely accused of murder in 1986 and finally released in 2004.

This event was both thought provoking and perplexing; at some points convicting and at others theologically muddled.

On the one hand, Rice and Steidl presented powerful first-hand testimony about how capital punishment can go wrong. Steidl began the session by sharing his experience of spending nearly 18 years in prison, most on death row, after being wrongly convicted of a brutal murder in Paris, Illinois, in 1986. Although the case against him was weak, it took a monumental effort over many years to overturn his conviction, in large part because of a dysfunctional and corrupt justice system in Illinois at the time.

“Until they start holding police and prosecutors accountable, and make them do serious jail time, you’re going to continue to have innocent people on death row and doing life without parole in this country,” Steidl said.

Rice wrote in 2011 that capital punishment was “personal for me,” too. She has worked with prisoners over the years, including many on death row. But her connection goes even deeper than that. Her brother Bruce VanderJagt, a policeman in Denver, was murdered in 1997.

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