Thursday, November 29, 2007
Mike Huckabee's death penalty dodge
Why do you think Jesus would be against the death penalty? He commanded us to obey authority, which is given by God.
Remember, the thief on the cross was forgiven, but he still had to pay the penalty for his crimes.
"carrying out the death penalty was unquestionably the worst part of my job as governor. 17 times I sat by a phone with an open line to the death chamber, and gave the verbal order for the lethal injection. I never slept well those nights. I did the job that the law prescribed for me to do, but I hated every minute of it."
To say that Jesus would endorse state killing of captive prisoners or other cruel abuses of power against humanity, is not just un-Christian...it is anti-Christian.
Gov. Huckabee in his "dance" around the death penalty question attempted to gloss over the serious issues that are (pardon the pun) the "Elephant in the Room".
As an ordained minister, he shows a shaky knowledge of Jesus' position on the death penalty at best. For example, he is apparently unaware of the fact that Jesus himself released the woman caught in the act of adultery from the death penalty that she in fact deserved under the Law of Moses in place at the time (John 8).
There are many other passages that demonstrate that Jesus, as the New Covenant or New Testament preferred mercy and restoration of the person over condemnation and destruction of their life.
In his Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-6), Jesus establishes a new teaching that outranks the one then in effect: "Up until now, you have heard the commandment 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', but now what I say to you is: offer no resistance to injury. When a person strikes you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other." There are two others that mark self-incriminating behavior if not lived: "Blessed are those who show mercy; mercy shall be theirs" (Matt. 5:7) and "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." (Matt. 6:12) Whether one accepts these teachings or not, one has to admit that they are what Jesus taught.
Admittedly, in all probability to stand on these words would be a fatal political position, and a political candidate's advisors would no doubt counsel steering clear of a discussion of them. And to be fair, Gov. Huckabee is not running for President as a pastor, but as a politician.
But as a serious self-proclaimed candidate for President of the United States whose chief sworn duty is "to defend the Constitution", it seems that he surely would be aware of the record number of American citizens who have been recently released from penitentiaries, including death rows after spending years of their lives there, and who only now have been proven to have been innocent all along.
True, it can be argued that if DNA testing had been available when they went to trial, they may not have gone to prison or to death row. So whose fault is that? The point is, the due process of a justice system in place at the time was followed, but that system convicted them and sentenced some to death, although in reality they were innocent. The point is if Gov. Huckabee were aware of these facts, he could hardly have used "due process" being followed as the basis for justifying the death penalty.
A visit to the Innocence Project website (www.innocenceproject.org/ ) tells the stories of those who were innocent yet convicted, some condemned to die. The stories of these exonerated persons establish an appalling record of sometimes well intentioned, yet flawed processes, or sometimes crass incompetence on the part of public servants who are themselves sworn to serve the cause of justice and protect the rights of all citizens.
Gov. Huckabee could have used the question posed to discuss these facts and to demonstrate that he is an enlightened candidate concerned about justice in the system, if that is, indeed the case.
A simple visit to the Death Penalty Information Center (DPIC.org) will provide facts for every state in the union regarding their record on the administration of justice for all. A visit to the website of the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty (NCADP.org) will reveal even more about the state of justice--or injustice--in this nation. If Gov. Huckabee were prepared to serve the Constitutional rights of all Americans, he would be familiar with these websites and the information gathered there.
The fact that Governor Huckabee can refer to a due justice process having been followed in cases only exposes the fact that he is, for all practical purposes totally uninformed of the serious developments unfolding around the death penalty and a criminally flawed justice system that executes the innocent, preys on the poor and minorities, and is sometimes even inhabited by prosecutors who seem to be more concerned about the political points to be gained by executing someone than by making certain they are guilty of the crime for which they are sent to their death at the hands of the state.
When such public officials and systems fail, they fail the Constitution and the vision of the Founders of the nation who created it. These Revolutionaries had seen enough people executed at the will and whims of those in power, with no protection of their rights to a fair trial and to equal justice under the law.
When such systems fail through the weakness or lack of serious concern of elected officials or those seeking election to public office, then it falls to the citizens of the nation to restore the system by removing from office officials who fail justice and the Constitution, and electing officials who will truly take to heart the evidence of a flawed system and who will restore it to the justice system intended by the Founders.
When all is said and done, this is a government of the people, by the people and for the people. It falls to the people to remember that when any human being is put to death in this nation, they are killed in the name of we the people. And it falls to the people to make certain that anyone who is executed is at the very least, truly guilty.
It falls to the people to entrust the lives of all Americans to candidates who have demonstrated that they take that trust seriously. And we will be accountable to the source of all Justice not only for each execution, but also for the officials we elect to administer justice--or injustice--in our name.
At this point in time, I for one am not confident that a vote for Gov. Huckabee would be a vote for one who is prepared either as a man of faith or as a candidate for President of the United States to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of this nation, or to respect the sacred value of every human life, innocent or guilty, in the eyes of the Creator and Jesus.
Tom Bombadil calls it Flip-Flop Christianity.
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