It's just really tragic that after all the horrors of the last 1,000 years, we can't leave behind something as primitive as government sponsored execution.
September 11, 2010
"Violent crime has a powerful, corrosive effect on society . . The human community is saddened by violence, and angered by the injustice involved. We want to hold accountable those who violate life, who violate society. Our sadness and anger, however, make us vulnerable to feelings of revenge. Our frustration with the complex problems contributing to violence may make us long for simple solutions. Such are the circumstances under which we, as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, speak to the death penalty."
These words are from the most recent social statement on the death penalty issued by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. We are a Christian community of some 4.5 million Christians in the U.S., Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I serve as the bishop in Oregon.
Lutheran Christians recognize and respect the authority of the state to order society through laws and consequences for violent behavior. However, we speak against the death penalty because of deep concerns with its implementation. Implementation of the death penalty in the U.S. has consistently been shown to be unfair, to fail in its attempt to end cycles of violence, and to be used in public discourse to further agendas of hatred and revenge. The death penalty does not further healing, hope or harmony for citizen of this country.
With this goal in mind, as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America speaks against the death penalty, it also commits itself to be a place of healing and hope for victims of violent crimes. We support and value the voices of those who work in prisons, as police officers and in our court system. We actively pursue prison ministries and the rehabilitation of offenders. And, as on ongoing community of moral liberation, we pledge our ongoing participation with all who pursue clarity and understanding in difficult times.
Please join us in our common struggle to end violence and lift up healing for all.
Bishop Dave Brauer-Rieke
Oregon Synod-Evangelical Lutheran Church in America