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The Death Penalty vs Your Religious Beliefs


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Is the death penalty allowable within your religion, or your belief system? Is it considered murder? Is an ultimate judgment like that reserved for your deity or can man hand out capital punishment? Is your religious/spiritual stance at odds with your political stance on this issue?

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No inherent problems with my religious nor moral beliefs. (Whether it is impractical or not I assume you don't want in this thread).
As long as it's not solely a political impracticality, I would like to hear it.

 

I know people who are against the death penalty from a religious POV, but think it's a necessary deterrent in society. I personally think it's immoral and we surely can come up with better deterrents.

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Both the Bible and the Qur'an are in support of the death penalty for many things that today we would find far more trivial that the authors.

 

For example, the bible says this about homosexuality:

 

Leviticus 20:13

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

 

The Qur'an says that unbelievers should be put to death.

 

Qur'an (8:12)

YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

PICKTHAL: When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

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I though Leviticus said that about people who eat shellfish too.

The bible also says "thou shalt not kill" so it contradicts itself.

 

I'm mildly puzzled by "Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them."

Without their heads, just how worried about their fingertips will thy be?

Whatever, I'm pretty sure that the Koran also says that you shouldn't kill unbelievers- you tell then about the word of the prophet and, if they don't pay attention that's their problem.

 

As you might have realised, I'm an atheist so my viewpoint on the death penalty is that it's only applicable if you can be certain that they person concerned is guilty- because it's not something you can reverse. (I realise that compensating someone who was wrongly imprisoned doesn't really amount to justice).

Since only the God (that I don't believe in) can be entirely sure that a man is guilty, you shouldn't have a death penalty.

 

It's probably telling that practically no civilised nation still has the death penalty.

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My religion is Catholic. If I recall correctly Catholic cannon says the death penalty is permissible under the very narrowly defined circumstances. Also if I recall correctly, they say its virtually impossible to have all of those circumstances so it should be forbidden in law. So maybe Hitler.

 

Personally I’m against the death penalty. Our nation was founded on respecting each individual’s right to life, liberty, and property. Life is a requirement for the other two. I like the idea of living in a society that always gives deference to life.

 

On the flip side however, I think it is cruel and unusual punishment to lock someone in prison for life without the possibility of parole. The death penalty destroys someone’s life. But life without parole destroys their liberty and property rights. I really see it as torture. So if you can’t let them out, why keep them alive? I really struggle with this. In the end however I always end up on the side of life. Well, because they might be innocent.

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So if you can’t let them out, why keep them alive? I really struggle with this. In the end however I always end up on the side of life. Well, because they might be innocent.

 

Two very good points, waitforufo. The whole 'may be innocent' argument is very strong. Death is pretty permanent, and can't be redressed.

 

I really wish I trusted our court system (notice that's not a 'Justice System.') to only charge and convict the guilty. DNA evidence has been a real eye opener. It adds to the validity of the conundrum.

 

One point that I haven't seen addressed so far, is the question of what the whole legal system is actually supposed to do?

 

I would posit that it is supposed to protect the citizens who live under these laws, from those who prey upon them. There are certain crimes, and certain levels of crime where the only protection is to take the predator out of the picture, forever. No amount of rehabilitation or remorse on the part of the predator will suffice for you to want this predator in your neighborhood.

 

A humane death does the same thing as life behind bars, but it's cheaper, and more sure. Predators can continue to prey on others who are behind bars, and that's another place where the 'may be innocent' argument gives me pause.

 

When we're sure. . .really sure. . .kill them. Not as punishment, but as protection from the threat they have proven themselves to pose.

 

Sometimes, something nasty crawls out from under your sink and you just step on it. You're not angry, you're not trying to punish it, you just can't afford to have it around, it's a danger to you and your family.

 

Same principle, as far as I can tell.

 

Bill Wolfe

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One would thus need to establish the rates of recidivism (re-offense) for various classes of crime and develop a system to tell if a violent offender is likely to be a danger in the future.

 

At the moment, I don't think we understand enough to do that. Are their certain cases where we consider the risk of recidivism high enough to warrant the death penalty or life in prison?

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At the moment, I don't think we understand enough to do that.
And we're not likely to educate ourselves as a society in the near future, either. On a federal level, we allow many things to happen that are at odds with our morality, just because it's easier. I fear we won't look into a more efficient, more productive, more humane way of dealing with violent offenders because the current system is like a salve that takes the pain away temporarily, but doesn't stop us from being wounded in the future.

 

 

 

My future solution to the death penalty:

"Oh, they've encased him in carbonite. He should be quite well protected. If he survived the freezing process, that is." ―C-3PO

:D

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Is the death penalty allowable within your religion, or your belief system?

Does any faith even permit it actually? That's the real question.

 

My own *belief system* allows it for personal use -- i.e. done by the hand of another citizen, not law -- but only if they're responsible enough to fully accept the legal consequences of unlawfully killing another person. Then again, it's a belief system that's enhanced by what consistently, regionally, and historically passes the test of reality -- in a level-headed manner.

 

 

Both the Bible and the Qur'an are in support of the death penalty for many things...

I'll have to disagree. See why below.

 

For example, the bible says this about homosexuality:

 

Leviticus 20:13

"If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."

Notice (in the surrounding passages) how God didn't instruct Moses that a court or government must put them to death. Notice also, if onlookers from the surrounding crowd didn't participate in the kill (by stoning or whatnot), there'd be consequences by God.

 

Which to me sounds as if government is highly disliked in the writings of certain religions -- as if their leaders would rather BE the government. Which in a nutshell sounds like various politics of today.

 

The Qur'an says that unbelievers should be put to death.

 

Qur'an (8:12)

YUSUFALI: Remember thy Lord inspired the angels (with the message): "I am with you: give firmness to the Believers: I will instil terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers: smite ye above their necks and smite all their finger-tips off them."

PICKTHAL: When thy Lord inspired the angels, (saying): I am with you. So make those who believe stand firm. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger.

SHAKIR: When your Lord revealed to the angels: I am with you, therefore make firm those who believe. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.

What you quoted is God's instructions to angles, not humans. People aren't given instructions to carry out the death penalty, and especially not for government to do so.

 

 

It's probably telling that practically no civilised nation still has the death penalty.

QFT. And I think we shouldn't have one until we figure out precisely the reason why that's the case.

Edited by The Bear's Key
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One of the problems with the death penalty is connected to time element between the crime and the punishment (too much water under the bridge). The mind starts to forget the harsh real time reality of the victim as time goes on. It starts to focus on the legal alternate reality needed to defend the criminal.

 

If someone broke into your house and was about to kill you and/or those close to you, and a police officer shot and killed the suspect, just in the nick of time, it would be a righteous death penalty. Nobody in that house would call the police a murderer. They would thank him, since the terror was real time, and the choice was clear.

 

On the other hand, say the suspect killed your family and got away. If enough time goes by, via his hiding and via legal foot dragging, and the lawyers painting alternate reality to protect their client, we forget about the terror of the lost victims (water under the bridge) and try to defend the criminals rights, like he is the victim. Memories of the past fade and real time changes to something more based on verbal fantasy.

 

What would be useful is if we had a film of a murder and a film of the civil rights of the poor misunderstood criminal being manhandled. We play this second tape to get the alternate reality in motion. "poor, poor ax murderer". Then we show the murder tape, so we can compare levels of real time victimization and not depend on faded memories of your original outrage, and the alteration of this fading memory due to the verbal fantasy. The families left behind play that terror tape daily in their heads. The do gooders play a different tape in their heads.

 

Old time justice was based on an eye for an eye. The corollary was, "as you have done to others, so it shall be done to you". What that means is if you kill with an ax, you shall be killed with ax. If you rape and beat your victim for hours, so it shall be done to you. What we call the death penalty is quite mild and merciful compared to old justice.

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If the guy gets killed while in the process of committing the crime there's not much chance that you have killed the wrong guy.

Also, there's the difference that in one case one guy ends up dead but in the other case that guy and some others end up dead.

To me those look like real differences.

 

The fact that old-time justice was different doesn't mean that it was better any more than old-time science was better. Phlogiston theory anyone?

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We play this second tape to get the alternate reality in motion. "poor, poor ax murderer".

So wrong. It's likely the "poor human". Go find us anti-death punishment opponents who lack any sympathy for the murdered person's family and close ones. I'll wait.

 

Perhaps their concern is against something else as well.

 

There are inborn responses many of us have for certain situations, yet are entirely wrong for those situations -- however, others will play on such inborn responses merely for their own benefit, even if we all get screwed in the process.

 

It'd be the equivalent of politicians circulating leaflets telling us to run when encountering a cougar. It might feel right, but it's the wrong move. And I'll wager someone reading this doesn't realize your best chance of living is to stand your ground and possibly fight it. Why don't they realize it? Because their instincts claim otherwise.

 

Same goes with death punishments. It just feels right, but obviously it hasn't worked in all the history of its mass use. So what other reason does the politician have for motivitaing us towards legalizing a death punishment? In line with the spirit of the thread, it could be a religious motivation and power thing.

 

Will you go looking deeper, or fear it?

 

That answer's the real key to thinking for oneself, or the more popular: to be "set free".

 

Old time justice was based on an eye for an eye. The corollary was, "as you have done to others, so it shall be done to you". What that means is if you kill with an ax, you shall be killed with ax. If you rape and beat your victim for hours, so it shall be done to you.

But places like that exist, however I doubt you'd wanna live there. Or do you want to live in a culture of mass poverty and/or constant strife? Yet the more important question is why must such places be like that, why not civilized? And if that's an inevitable result of such legal practices, might the ones desiring it also want our society to become more like the nations with "old time" justice?

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For me it has nothing to do with my religion/spirituality.

 

My philosophical reasons I've explained in other threads.

 

I think the rejection of the Death Penalty in civilised societies is based on two principles. (In many ways)

 

1. The acceptance of the concept that there is a difference between "in the heat of the moment" and "in cold blood".

 

Taking humans out of it for the moment. If a bear came into your house and you shot it dead, then nobody (except loony greenies) would complain. However, if the bear was instead captured and put in a zoo and you then went and shot it, you would be wrong for doing so. The same principle applies for criminals.

 

2. The rejection of the concept that a government can mandate that one persons life is worth less than anothers.

 

You either value life or you don't. To say in effect "We value life and will kill anyone who doesn't" is morally, philosophically and logically wrong.

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I think the death penalty is inconsistent with my religious beliefs.

 

By that I mean that it is always wrong to take another life. In any circumstances. That includes war, or police shooting a bad guy, or even self defence.

 

However, I think as a society we should be taking a bigger view. Sometimes one has to do wrong things in order to better society. So taking a life can sometimes be the "lesser of two evils". For example, killing the bad guy in a hostage situation is wrong (because you are taking a life) but it may be less wrong than letting him kill the hostages.

 

I think the death penalty is very similar. Killing the serial killer is wrong, but letting him kill more children is more wrong.

 

I would also take this further. Killing violent criminals is wrong. But processing them via our current punishment system (high security prison as criminal training camps, followed by releasing dangerous criminals back into society to re-offend) is more wrong.


Merged post follows:

Consecutive posts merged

I think the rejection of the Death Penalty in civilised societies is based on two principles. (In many ways)

 

1. The acceptance of the concept that there is a difference between "in the heat of the moment" and "in cold blood".

 

Why do you think it is better to kill "in the heat of the moment"? Surely that killing indicates a loss of control, so makes the criminal more dangerous, not less. If the killer kills for a reason, then it is more likely that they can be re-educated not to kill in the future.

 

2. The rejection of the concept that a government can mandate that one persons life is worth less than anothers.

 

Governments already do this by locking people away. Are we not saying that a criminal's life is worth less by locking them away from society?

 

In fact, isn't any society which rewards merit (with greater status or pay) inherently judging some people's lives to be worth less than others?

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Why do you think it is better to kill "in the heat of the moment"?

I didn't say it was better, I said there was a difference. Someone breaks into your house, you fight, he dies. These things happen. Someone breaks into your house, you capture him, tie him to a chair and then kill him, that's different.

 

There is a difference between doing things when emotions and adrenalin running high and doing things in a cold blooded, premeditated fashion. All the counselling and training in the world will not change that fact of human behaviour.

 

Governments already do this by locking people away. Are we not saying that a criminal's life is worth less by locking them away from society?

 

In fact, isn't any society which rewards merit (with greater status or pay) inherently judging some people's lives to be worth less than others?

 

No, they are imposing an arbitary "value" on that persons contribution to the society, not a value on their life. To show the fallacy of this supposed "value", does anybody really think footbal players contribute more to a society than the Doctors and Nurses that put them back together?

 

To decide to kill people because they don't "contribute" enough to a society, or on the basis that they are a drain in any way on a society is a very dark road to go down.

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No, they are imposing an arbitary "value" on that persons contribution to the society, not a value on their life. To show the fallacy of this supposed "value", does anybody really think footbal players contribute more to a society than the Doctors and Nurses that put them back together?

 

I don't see the difference in the value of their contribution to society and the value of their life. Surely they are the same. (At least from society's point of view.)

 

I would agree that footballers are overpaid, but I also don't see what that has to do with the price of fish.

 

To decide to kill people because they don't "contribute" enough to a society, or on the basis that they are a drain in any way on a society is a very dark road to go down.

 

Why? Isn't that a slippery slope argument? With violent crime there is a very definite line in the sand. Couldn't someone more "liberal" than either of us say:

 

"To decide to incarcerate people because they don't "contribute" enough to a society, or on the basis that they are a drain in any way on a society is a very dark road to go down."

 

Should we get rid of the legal system altogether?

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No, they are imposing an arbitary "value" on that persons contribution to the society, not a value on their life. To show the fallacy of this supposed "value", does anybody really think footbal players contribute more to a society than the Doctors and Nurses that put them back together?

 

To decide to kill people because they don't "contribute" enough to a society, or on the basis that they are a drain in any way on a society is a very dark road to go down.

Ha, that's exactly the word popped up -- "contribution" -- as I was reading Severian's post too :) But "deterioration" also popped up, so here's an opportunity to use it...

 

I don't see the difference in the value of their contribution to society and the value of their life. Surely they are the same. (At least from society's point of view.)

The criminal's life is worth plenty. That's why (non-forced) rehabilitation, civil rights while in prison, and treatment is a concern. Now in the U.S., treatment must be fixed -- politicized leaders of the criminal system often view them as non-human or "animals".

 

No wonder people here think it's a mercy to just kill them instead of giving a long prison sentence.

 

Anyway, besides just their contribution, it's the deterioration of society that's an issue as well, but you can't just throw anyone in prison who "deteriorates society", you must balance this need with protecting our guaranteed liberties. So yes, people end up getting away with deteriorating to soceity, if they haven't broken a law or denied civil rights.

 

 

Why? Isn't that a slippery slope argument? With violent crime there is a very definite line in the sand. Couldn't someone more "liberal" than either of us say:

 

"To decide to incarcerate people because they don't "contribute" enough to a society, or on the basis that they are a drain in any way on a society is a very dark road to go down."

 

Should we get rid of the legal system altogether?

No, because the more liberal person is concerned with two very key points in our advances for liberty.

 

1. Do anything you want except for a) taking liberty from others b) destroying shared resources, like access to pristine nature and clean outdoors.

 

2. A guarantee of basic liberties. Prison is the current method to balance the two, via separation, but a criminal's rights doesn't end because of imprisonment.

 

The main problem is our legal system's infected by certain leaders who view it as a chance to satisfy base urges by exacting punishment,* rather than it being a separation of the criminal from society to protect others' liberties. Until we act/perceive otherwise, it's going to remain such a problem.

 

 

*Old habits (before The Enlightenment).

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I don't see the difference in the value of their contribution to society and the value of their life. Surely they are the same.

And that is why many American States have yet to join the civilised world.

 

Footballers were used to show that monetary fame and lionization are forms of arbitary awards and have no relevence to the person's actual contribution to society.

 

Why? Isn't that a slippery slope argument? With violent crime there is a very definite line in the sand.

Firstly, if the "line in the sand" is so definite, could you define it for me? It's a lot greyer than you might think.;)

 

Secondly. I can see how it might appear as a slippery slope argument. It's not, it is simply the rejection of certain answers to problems. There are a couple of reasons. One is that this sort of power (allowing the government to kill) has been abused way too often in the past. By not allowing the power, we prevent future abuse as a public policy.

 

Another is that since it is wrong to take such action against an enemy soldier in wartime, so why should it be allowable inside the society in peacetime? It removes a contradiction.

 

When considering the values of our society we need to see the big picture. Our laws must reflect those values, or at least try to. If we reject the idea that cold blooded murder is wrong for the individual, then we must also reject it for governments. Otherwise we are only doing it by proxy.

 

Emotionally, there have been many people who I thought would look their best as the centrepiece at a funeral. Regardless of that, I won't kill them in cold blood. Nor am I so much of a hypocrite that I would get some other sod to do it and then say "I didn't do it, the system did." That is just passing the buck and deluding ourselves.

 

That is why TBK isn't a hypocrite. We all accept certain limits on our freedom to act as we want. This is the price we pay for living in a civilised society. Constantly speed and your "right to drive" will be taken away. Be a constant PITA, and your "right" to associate with the general society will be taken away.

 

But at no time will your basic rights be taken.

 

Speaking as a non US person I find it bizarre that a nation that reveres a document that says;

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men

 

still has the Death Penalty. A Right to Life cannot be "secure" if the government can take it away.

 

The rest of us actually view these things as self evident too, we might not say it in a great "Declaration", but we do. So we don't have a document, but we do believe it and argue for it and act on it. You have the document and tell the world that you do, but you don't act on it.

 

Without the action, a great document has been reduced to mere words on paper, worth no more than a 10 cent novel. That is a sad, sad thing.

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What might be a good compromise that combines both life for the offender and justice for the victims, is to give the offender life in prison, then invite the extended victims, such as family members, to particulate in a good old fashion whipping. The court will give each extended victim x-minutes with the whip. Make the whip painful but not lethal.

 

This is called murder justice therapy. Here is how it works. If the extended victims had the opportunity to confront their villain, where he is restrained, so they can punish him, to release their fear and anger, to the point where they feel sorry and can't beat anymore, the victim spell will be broken.

 

One has to look at the big picture. The murder released evil spirits into the many extended victims souls. The extended victims exorcise these demons so the demons go back to where they belong. The evil spirits re-enter through his blood. Once the justice therapy is over, the offender and the extended victims begin life.

Edited by pioneer
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Interesting idea.

 

I must admit to being in favour of corporal punishment.

 

I remember a few years ago a young American was sentenced in Singapore (?) to 11 strokes of the rattan for vandalism and many were up in arms. I have no doubt that while he might have reoffended in the US and recieved his "counselling", he would not reoffend in Singapore.;)

 

I'm quite Heinleinian on this. Pain is natures way of telling us that something threatens our existence. It is a survival mechanism built up over millions of years of evolution. To not use this mechanism in a sensible way strikes me as quite silly.

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