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"Hot" religious topics

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Capital punishment:
All viewpoints on the death penalty.


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electric chair About this section:

This section of our website deals with the execution of criminals found guilty of having committed very serious crimes.

This used to be a universal practice in North America. However, in recent decades, almost all democracies in the world have abandoned the death penalty. The U.S., Japan, and South Korea are the only exceptions. Of course, many dictatorships and theocracies in the world retain the death penalty as a terror weapon.

In North America, as of 2014-MAR-30:

  • 18 states in the U.S. and the country of Canada have abolished the death penalty.

  • Connecticut and Maryland are the most recent states to eliminate executions. Maryland is the only state south of the Mason-Dixon line to have done so. However, Connecticut still retains 11 inmates on death row who may be executed in the future. Maryland became the sixth state in six years to abolish executions.

  • Californian adults voted in Proposition 34 -- a citizen initiative -- on election day in early 2012-NOV. Voters were able to choose between two options: to preserve capital punishment or to replace it with life imprisonment without any possibility of parole. The final vote was 52.8% in favor of the more expensive option -- retaining the death penalty -- and 47.2% for ending executions. If it had passed, it would have saved the state about $100 million a year.

Like other topics elsewhere in this website, we try to explain objectively all viewpoints. Thus, no matter what your beliefs are, you will certainly see material with which you strongly disagree and other material with which you will agree.

Topics covered in this section are:

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An innovative T-shirt:

Picture of t-shirt As of 2010-DEC, Amnesty International is selling a T-shirt showing the U.S. states that still have the death penalty as red stars and those that don't as white stars. The star representing Texas appears to have trailing blood smear, apparently because of the enormous number of executions per capita in that state. The caption says "Abolish the Death Penalty." Amnesty International is working to ensure that more red stars will flip to white. They enclose a stencil with some fabric paint so that you can change red stars to white as additional states abolish capital punishment. See: http://shop.amnestyusa.org/  Amazon.com offers free shipping for Amazon Prime members.

Because this shirt will likely be a conversation-starter, AI has supplied three arguments against the death penalty:

  • Two wrongs don't make a right.
  • The death penalty system is too flawed to be fixed, and risks innocent lives.
  • There are more constructive ways to address violent crime!

To which we would like to add: (Bias alert)

  • It is more expensive to execute someone than to keep them in jail for life.
  • Most Americans favor life sentences without any possibility of parole, instead of execution.
  • Whether you are executed or not depends a lot on how much money you have to spend in your defense, and your skin color.
  • Stopping the death penalty:
    • Is a pro-life position.
    • Keeps more prison guards employed.
    • Helps create a culture in which human personhood is so highly valued that not even the state is allowed to kill people.

One great thing about this T-shirt is that you can proudly wear it if you are a supporter of the death penalty. All you have to do is to buy some red paint. It might also help to eliminate the word "Abolish."

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Copyright © 1995 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1995-JUN-8
Last updated 2013-MAY-03

Author: Bruce A Robinson
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