This week, two major Texas newspapers featured op-eds calling for the abolition of the death penalty.
In the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (“‘Myth of violence’ drives capital punishment,” May 1, 2012), Reverend Bernard Kern (a new member of the TCADP Board of Directors), describes support for the death penalty as part of the “myth of redemptive violence.” Here’s an excerpt from his op-ed:
The archaic and barbaric death penalty is still viewed by some people as a just punishment for the most heinous of crimes and as a way of curbing crime. Some even believe that their religion justifies its use. This belief rests on the foundation of what theologian and author Walter Wink calls “the myth of redemptive violence.” It is the belief that violence saves, that war brings peace and that might makes right. If God is what one turns to when all else fails, then violence certainly can function as a god.
This myth, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today. In the case of the death penalty, it is the belief that by killing another person we are made safer. The nature of the myth is that it demands obedience. Consequently, the person who embraces this myth will tend to reject any evidence that would call it into question or prove it to be false.
Faith in the myth of redemptive violence must be seen for what it is: a false religion that must be exorcised from our hearts and minds.
In the San Antonio Express-News (“It’s time to abolish the death penalty,” May 3, 2012), Fred Williams cites the risk of wrongful conviction and wrongful execution, the lack of a deterrence effect, and international and national movement away from the death penalty in his call for “Texas to join with Justice Blackmun and the rest of the civilized world and do away with the bloody practice of killing people.”