Zoom Meeting Sermon July 17 2022

Topic: Capital Punishment

This can be a sensitive issue for many people. Path doctrine is not exclusively for or against capital punishment, but only the most heinous crimes, committed by the unrepentant -such as serial killers, especially if cannibalism was involved, or people who murder their children- should qualify for what is essentially putting down a rabid animal. In those cases, the death of a murderer may be the only way the victims’ families may have some sort of closure.  Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer come to mind as examples.

We also need to develop a humane and painless way to perform executions. If we must resort to killing somebody, we need to do it with as much Compassion as possible. Not only for their sake, but for our own as well, to prove to ourselves that we are not also monsters. Remember that Compassion requires a certain degree of emotional distance; we only seek vengeance when we allow our emotions to overrule our rational selves. Path doctrine is to always determine the most Compassionate reaction to evil, as “Everything that does evil is in pain.” (Clive Barker, Imajica). If such evil is done that it can be safely determined that the individual is intrinsically broken beyond rehabilitation, then the most Compassionate thing to do is to humanely euthanize them and end their suffering. This is what Doloris pointed out during a previous meeting.

However, new evidence, particularly DNA evidence, has exonerated eighteen people on death row, so the burden of proof and amount of evidence must be carefully weighed. The American justice system is deeply flawed, especially when it comes to public defenders in criminal cases. There are innocent people in prison, some of whom may die before their case is reviewed, and their blood is on all our hands. It is more Compassionate in some cases to let them live their lives in prison, unable to hurt anyone else but not killed, just in case it turns out we were wrong.

In the end, it must be acknowledged that while some people allow themselves to become monsters, how we deal with them tells us a lot about who we are as a society. We have hanged, electrocuted, shot, gassed, and chemically euthanized them. While we have made some progress in finding a painless way to put people to death, we still need to be more judicious about who we kill.

There’s some positive news, though: Capital punishment has been on a more or less steady decline since 2000. (Source: Statista.com) This is a good thing. It means fewer lives taken, but it also indicates a decrease in the kind of crime that comes with a death sentence. Violent crime overall is down across America. Maybe this is a good time to reassess our values as a nation and make absolutely certain we are in the right before we deem somebody irrevocably broken and condemn them to die.

Would you like to share your own personal views on capital punishment?


Reverend CJ Carlin



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