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Religion And The Death Penalty

             Capital punishment has been occurring within the United States for over two centuries. An idea first created in ancient Egyptian times, the topic is continually used in today's society of crime and punishment. Although enforced for so many years, the topic was not morally debated until recent times. Records of Ancient Egypt indicate acts of criminal condemning by different methods of execution ("Classical Judaism" 142). Even though biblical references state executions of crucifixions and stoning of criminals, the Catholic Church, in addition to an array of various other faiths, still has plead politicians in America to end this form of punishment. Denominations and groups opposed to capital punishment include the Roman Catholic Church, United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Episcopal Church, Disciples of Christ, and American Friends Service Committee (Zorn 1). Judaism and Islam allow for capital punishment in some very narrow circumstances, although the American Jewish Committee is officially against it. .
             According to the United States Catholic Bishops (Winsor B5), "the question for judgment and decision is whether capital punishment is justifiable under present circumstances." The Church goes on to say that it "believes that in the conditions of contemporary American society, the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty." The Church envisions a legal system abolished of capital punishment and empowered with more constructive forms of retribution and rehabilitation. "Abolition sends a message that we can break the cycle of violence, that we need not take life for life, that we can envisage more humane and more hopeful and effective responses to the growth of violent crime." In the eyes of the Catholics, these principles are exemplified by Jesus, "who both taught and practiced the forgiveness of injustice.

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