Category Archives: Death Penalty

Let God Sort ’em Out

I didn’t really want to do another post on the death penalty or anything related to it. But it seems to me that stories about people being freed after serving long sentences for crimes they didn’t commit have been popping up a lot. One article in particular about a man in Texas being freed after 30 years in prison for a rape he didn’t commit caught my attention yesterday.

A little background: In my past I was a hard-core death penalty supporter.  Even now, I can’t say I am totally against it, if it’s administered perfectly without error. Which, of course, I can’t see how it could possibly be. As I’ve stated in these articles here and here, my mind began to change after reading the John Grisham book, The Innocent Man.

I was a little familiar with the subject of John Grisham’s book before he wrote on it, but after I knew more about the facts it made my blood boil how people could be so heartless as to fry a man just because he was a “freak” without having a shred of evidence.

Actually, it scared me.

I know what the Word of God says:

Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:6-8 NIV)

Regardless of my opinion on whether a man deserves death or not, and whether or not God gives governments that power, His word declares an innocent man isn’t to be put to death, nor are we to entertain false charges against anyone. Period.

A couple of recent articles in Texas Monthly Magazine about a man named Anthony Graves merely cements my viewpoint on this.

Anthony Graves was a man convicted of a gruesome murder and burning of the victims in Somerville, Texas about 20 years ago. His conviction came in spite of the actual murderer, Robert Carter, denying Anthony Graves had anything to do with it. Additionally, Anthony Graves had a good alibi complete with witnesses.

It’s a disgusting tale of ignorant police work, heartless investigation practices, and a desire merely to close a murder case at any cost. Even if that cost was an innocent man’s life. The worst of all is it’s a tale of district attorneys looking to make a name for themselves on the backs of innocent, poor, uneducated, and mostly minority men. A situation that is all too common in Texas these days.

 The first article can be read here and the second article, the one about him being freed, can be read here. Additionally an interview with Anthony Graves can be watched here.

To all who are death penalty supporters, again I would suggest you do a little research. Start with my article here and the links contained in it. Read the John Grisham book The Innocent Man. Move on to the David Dow book An Autobiography Of An Execution. Perform Google searches on how many innocent people have been freed because of DNA or other evidence.

Take a look at the total unreliability of eyewitness evidence and especially confessions from “criminals” who are subjected to hours and hours of questioning while being hungry, thirsty, and sleep deprived (a common interrogation tactic in many police departments). Over and over again it’s being proved people will confess to anything after being interrogated in this manner, even crimes they didn’t commit.

You’ll be amazed at what you’ll uncover.

Most of all, I appeal to my fellow Christians. We need to hop off the conservative bandwagon and stop parroting what so many of our conservative politicians are advocating and be people who are driven by the Word of God.

We need to see that true justice is done. True justice…..that no innocent man is put to death or wrongly incarcerated for lengthy prison sentences.

Please, my fellow Christians, pray about this…..search it out……turn every stone over and examine them….please be assured you’re on the side of true justice.

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Filed under Christianity, Death Penalty, personal, Politics

It’s All In The Execution

When I was in 11th grade, I had an American history teacher that was, for lack of a better word,  “liberal”. As he taught, he always felt the need to interject his viewpoint on whether he agreed with what was being taught or not.

There was a time once when he expressed his opinion on the death penalty in Texas, and of course he disagreed with it. I stood up and argued, rather heatedly, with him in front of the class. It went on for quite a while. I wasn’t going to let that one slip by.

I had been a good student, rarely ever getting less than an A on assignments. But when my final grade came out in the summer, I was given a 70. Barely passing. While I can’t prove it, I certainly feel my little hissy over the death penalty hindered my grade.

I was always a proponent of the death penalty and at times even joked about being the one who would gladly “flip the switch”.

My views have changed somewhat. I don’t know exactly what God’s mind is on the death penalty (in light of the New Testament, of course). I’m still a little unsure whether a person who is guilty deserves to die for taking the life of another. After all, the Apostle Paul would have been sentenced to die in the state of Texas. 

I do know, as I’ve written here before, that we are not to put an innocent man to death. At all. Ever. It’s now my opinion that any system that would allow it needs to be abolished.

And most of all, how dare any Christian support wholeheartedly any system of justice that would allow an innocent man to be put to death and then shrug your shoulders and say “Oh well, you can’t be perfect all the time”.

I just finished reading the book titled “An Autobiography of an Execution” written by David R. Dow. He’s a death penalty lawyer in Houston, Texas writing about his experiences representing over one hundred people convicted of the death penalty in Texas.

While the book is largely David Dow’s viewpoint, it doesn’t take hardly any research to know much of what he is saying happens in every death penalty case. The sad point is, it ought to turn your stomach. His account of inept attorneys, indifferent judges, an electorate that is largely ignorant of the death penalty process (of which I was one), and just the system in general ought to get the attention of everyone, but especially Christians.

After reading The Innocent Man by John Grisham (a non-fiction account of several innocent people on death row in Oklahoma) and now this one by David Dow, and considering most of all the words of God……

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:6-8 NIV)

We need to take a long hard look at just what justice is. What God says justice is. You see, whether it makes you uncomfortable or not, God loves everyone the same, even murderers. And in our thirst for revenge I do know that at the very least God said that we had better see that even a murderer receives justice.

Give both books a read. It just might change you forever.

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Filed under Books, Death Penalty, Evangelism, Politics

This Jesus Will Be The Death of Me

I recently joined Facebook. I’ve fought the good fight, but I finally gave in.

I guess I found the term “social networking” a little odd for something you do without having to face people. But I noticed my e-mails from people I know had dropped to zero. I asked my wife why and she told me everyone was on Facebook.

So I quoted a famous philosopher by the name of Jed Clampett and exclaimed “Whoo Doggy”. Then I joined Facebook.

While signing up for Facebook, one of the things you can post on your profile is your religious and political views. I’ve noticed that in the political views part that most of the people I know on Facebook either say “Republican” or nothing at all.

It ain’t healthy in an evangelical church to declare that you’re a Democrat. You might have the deacons grab you and try to re-baptize you repeatedly until you “convert” and declare Rush Limbaugh as your personal lord and savior and receive Shawn Hannity as your new “holy spirit”.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about why I have such as difficult time reconciling my faith with politics. I know that if there is one thing that the “religious right” has tried to do is just that. Meld politics and faith.

Just to get the record straight, though, I can’t vote Democrat as a rule. Abortion is murder and anyone that will support state sponsored murder will never get my vote. Ever. Far too many Democrats support abortion and unless I know for a fact they will take a stand against it, I can’t support them.

But that puts me in an interesting spot. Most of my fellow evangelical right wing Republicans support the death penalty. Oh, I used to. In fact there was a time in my life I probably would have flipped the switch myself. But not now. Far too many people have been found innocent since DNA has been used. I can’t support something that could kill even one innocent person.

As of 1989, there’s been 247 people freed from prison with DNA. Although I’ve had a hard time finding the exact amount that’s been freed from death row, it seems to be around 17. Remember, that’s just the ones that have been exhonerated by DNA and just since 1989. There is no telling how many innocent people we’ve executed or how many are rotting in prison.

Although I don’t have the numbers, it could be argued that far too many of these people were minorities or the poor that were run roughshod over by an overzealous system eager to earn any conviction.

Lives ruined, families broken up, millions of dollars spent, fear, and things that can’t even be mentioned on a Christian blog have happened to the wrongly accused. Yeah, that’s the kind of justice Jesus spoke of.

I recommend that any of my fellow Christian Right Wing Republican Death Penalty Supporters read/listen to John Grisham’s book, The Innocent Man. If you are still a die-hard death penalty supporter after that, I would consider doing some carpet time with God and seeking his mind on it. I was on the fence long before I listened to this book. But afterward I am thoroughly against the death penalty.

You see, God said

6 “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. 7 Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.8 “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous. (Exodus 23:6-8 NIV)

We wave our signs, we scream and sit outside abortion clinics, we stick stickers to our mini-vans because of the innocent life killed because of abortions, but us Christians don’t even give a second thought to flipping a switch on a young black man who was bullied into confessing at 4:30am to a murder he didn’t commit after he was deprived of sleep, water, bathroom, and rest.

God doesn’t see innocence the way we see innocence. We are born into sin. None of us are innocent. Steal a piece of gum, kill someone, both are a violation of God’s law and none of will be found innocent without the forgiveness of Christ.

God doesn’t give us an option on this. Read the verse above, It means DO NOT. Until we can be assured that we aren’t putting ANY innocent man to death we stop doing it. Period. Because God said so.

So to all you who use the following math formula, Christian=Republican=Conservative=Death Penalty, to determine a person’s salvation: I sure am glad Paul of the New Testament didn’t “get what he deserved”.

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Filed under Books, Churchianity, Death Penalty, Politics