The phrase, "seamless garment" was coined by Cardinal Joseph Bernardin and refers to a consistent ethic of life. From a religious Christian perspective, this image challenges all individuals to possess a seamless, or unrestricted respect for life from the womb to the tomb. The first of the nine key themes of Catholic Social Teaching states that the value of human life contains great worth, dignity and should be treated with respect. The death penalty conflicts with this statement because it denies the sacredness of human life. Humans were made in the image of God, and he intended for them to possess intelligence and freedom from manipulation and exploitation. Embracing the concept that human life is a gift from God, Christian teaching takes a strong pro-life standpoint. Human life has intrinsic value, even if a person has murdered another individual. It is stated that all of us have the responsibility to protect human life from conception to natural death. .
The ninth theme, or the "preferential option for the poor" is emphasized to state that the wealthy should assist the plight of the hard-pressed working unfortunates. Through collaborate efforts, everyone could be working together so that full participation will be extended to all, without discrimination or favoritism. This does not always hold truth because the majority of people on death row are poor. In the movie Dead Man Walking, Helen states, "We have something in common. We both work with the poor." Had the convicted been wealthy, they may have been able to afford attorneys and defense lawyers that could represent them at a better and more equal fashion. Ninety-five percent of all people sentenced to death could not afford their own attorney. In this sense, the death penalty is discriminating against minorities and the poor. The Catholic Church wholly believes in the seamless garment concept, and blatantly refers to the Ten Commandments, especially the fourth: "Thou shalt not kill.