The death penalty. It remains one of the most divisive issues in contemporary society. And though we've moved from the colonial days of swift justice being meted out via public humiliation in the stockade followed by hanging to a modern-day antiseptic lethal injection, the moral contradictions remain.
Proponents of the death penalty may quote the Old Testament's "an eye for an eye" concept of justice, while opponents hearken back to Jesus' call to "turn the other cheek."
Even today, those who oppose the death penalty do so for different reasons. Some claim it is simply an ineffective means of fighting crime. Others say it is not worth risking the execution of an innocent person. Many oppose the death penalty because they believe it is morally wrong to take another life. After all, "thou shalt not kill" sounds pretty unequivocal.
In this frank and challenging two-session study, we examine the historical background of the death penalty to set a discussion of current issues into perspective. Then, in session two, we consider the pragmatic issues of the death penalty: Does it work? Is it fair? Is it humane? Finally, we tackle the moral issues inherent in what is truly a life or death decision: Is killing ever justified? And do we as mortal men and women possess the moral authority to kill what God has created?